LMFAO’s delirious satire of manliness.
The Gordy boys are related to Motown founder Berry Gordy, who is Stefan’s father and Skyler’s grandfather. As befits a duo with Motown in its blood, LMFAO are wholehearted showbizzers, packing every square inch of the LMFAO brand with entertainment value. (You can even watch Redfoo on Mad Money animatedly sharing investment strategies.) They wear fluorescent animal prints and big plastic glasses with no lenses. They dance jubilantly in almost all their videos and at their concerts. Their videos and lyrics have recurring slogans, memes, and cast members: One character, called the Shuffle Bot, is a guy wearing a cardboard robot head; another, who goes only by the sobriquet Q, looks uncannily like Ronnie from The Jersey Shore. The videos involve fantastical, relatively elaborate setups: In “Party Rock Anthem” LMFAO must survive a dancing-zombie apocalypse (by dancing); in “Champagne Showers” they are trapped in a nightclub full of female vampires (so they dance); in “Yes,” a 10-minute clip that features a star turn from Jamie Foxx, they play professional curlers (who dance, with their brooms, across the ice). Both Gordy boys are great at mugging for the camera, Redfoo especially. He has strong comic timing and a mischievous, Bugs Bunny-ish mien that helps make a move like the Wiggle feel lightheartedly prankish rather than gross.
LMFAO are party rappers. They aren’t good at crafting rhymes so much as slinging together clichés and delivering them so vigorously that it doesn’t matter: They brag about being “up in the party,” looking “fresh to death” and getting it “on and poppin’ ” while “the bass is knocking.” Their individual personalities are largely indistinct, but in “Yes,” Redfoo plays the cad to Sky Blu’s softie. Picturing the good life, Redfoo imagines a team of women bathing him and declaring, “Your royal penis is clean”; in Sky Blu’s dream-world, “Grandma’s cooking breakfast, she makes pancakes the best/ I check my MySpace and I got a lot of friend requests.” (Aim high!) Their music puts a ProTools sheen on the blooping, whirring, squelching sounds of 1980s electro, disco, and videogames, with contemporary touches thrown in, like tremoring dubstep bass lines and copious Auto-Tune.
Spiritually, LMFAO nod not only to the bratty hedonism of the early Beastie Boys but also the smartass raunch of the Bloodhound Gang and, more recently, the hip-hop send-ups of the Lonely Island. In the “Champagne Showers” video, Redfoo and Sky Blu do a lurid bottle-popping pantomime: Holding imaginary bottles at crotch level, they jerk them back and forth a couple times before sending the invisible contents spraying with a comically graceful arc of the hand. You can picture Andy Samberg kicking himself for not having thought of it first.
For all their talk of lady-killing, LMFAO cultivate a certain circle-jerk-at-the-treehouse ambience, which the “Champagne Showers” dance almost literalizes. It’s also on display in the video for “La La La,” where Redfoo and Sky Blu, hanging around the house together in their underwear, use a computer to create the perfect babe, Weird Science-style; in the “Shots” video, where they splash vodka into each other’s open mouths and are mock-fellated while standing side-by-side; in the “Yes” video, where Redfoo caps off a locker-room pep talk about “swallowing” adversity with a “no homo” amen that makes the whole thing 0 percent less gay. And it’s in the Wiggle, of course—a pleasure best enjoyed while in possession of a penis and in close proximity to other penises. This all relates to a tension, at LMFAO’s core, between its two main influences: hip-hop’s bros-before-hoes braggadocio on the one hand and club music’s inclusive utopianism on the other. One ostensible complaint against LMFAO, along these lines, is that they annex space on the dance floor for boors to crowd together and raucously celebrate their dicks. But “Sexy and I Know It” isn’t a straight-up tribute to manliness so much as a delirious satire of it, in the neighborhood of its clear antecedent, Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”: “Girl look at that body—ahhh!—I work out,” Redfoo, whose physique suggests several lapsed gym memberships, preens. The Wiggle goes to such farcical, homoerotic extremes that it can’t help but function as parodic. Wiggle in bad faith and the joke’s on you.
Jonah Weiner is Slate's pop critic.