“Generobanger”. That’s my one-word summary of the new Nicki Minaj tune. It’s called ‘Starships’, it’s the “official lead single” from her potentially career-shaping second album, and it’s a studio hook-up with RedOne. Him again. Here, he’s taken the opportunity to perfect the Kenwood technique of pop production.
A handy precis: 1) Shove sundry recent chart hits into a blender. 2) Churn this glutinous mixture up a bit. 3) Crank the resulting mulch all the way up to BANGIN’. I’ll let you play your own game of Spot What This Bit Sounds Like, but Pink, Flo Rida and LMFAO should all be pleased Nicki’s been paying such close attention.
To be fair, it’s not ineffective. ‘Starships’ improves in direct correlation to volume of blastage, consumption of alcohol and sweatiness of surroundings. It’s Minaj’s surest chart bet since ‘Super Bass’, though it lacks that song’s innocence and effortless effervescence. ‘Super Bass’ seduced slowly, unexpectedly, almost by accident. ‘Starships’ struts on over, sticks out its nipples and shoves its tongue down your throat.
Whether you want it to or not. There’s not much actual rapping here, but Minaj still manages to transcend the generic – in bursts. She sounds primed for the asylum on the opening bars. Later on, she quotes from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Even the initially nonsensical hook line – “We’re higher than a motherfucker” – seems to acquire a kind of brutish brilliance. Give it an asterisk and it’s a Topshop T-shirt.
These glimpses of “Minajy-bargey” prompt a question – one that’s been posed before, but remains pertinent. Do we want this gobby, abrasive and batshit artist to make gobby, abrasive and batshit music for the blogs – see her recent teaser tracks ‘Roman In Moscow’ and ‘Stupid Hoe’. Or do we want her to bring some gobby, abrasive and batshit to the charts? So that she can do things like, I dunno, simulate an exorcism at the world’s biggest music awards. Of course, Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be Nicki Minaj if she wasn’t trying to have it both ways.