The Show Floats on—Tremendous Feat or Musical Suicide?

Publicity Photo from http://www.lupefiasco.com

Now that Lupe Fiasco’s single “The Show Goes On” has become a Top 100 hit around the world, it is time to mention its “originality”. Many people consider Lupe Fiasco an original and innovative artist. However, this single is not very original.

I understand that greats learn from the successes of other greats. Innovation is finding a new way of doing something or improving on an existing work. The music industry is no exception. Lupe Fiasco has been an innovator in the past based upon his unique subject matter and sound, like in his 2006 single “Kick, Push”. Now, Fiasco attempted to improve an existing work; that work was Modest Mouse’s “Float On”.

The first time I heard “The Show Goes On” it was on a hip-hop radio station. I thought to myself, “Why are they about to play Modest Mouse on this station?” I continued to listen and nearly gagged. “Float On” is one of my least favorite songs in the entire world. Personally, I think Lupe Fiasco made a HUGE mistake sampling this track.

The initial guitar lick is enough to draw parallels to the greatly successful Modest Mouse track. Fiasco goes on to imitate the chorus as well. Modest Mouse’s song sings “All right, already/We all float on” and Lupe Fiasco’s sings “All right, already/The show goes on”. The similarities may be used to introduce Lupe Fiasco to a new market, fans of artist like Modest Mouse. He may have also used the technique employed in many Caribbean songs. Once a song becomes popular, ten more songs will come out on the same riddim so they will be well-received.

Unfortunately, taking Modest Mouse’s “riddim” may not work for Fiasco because fans of the two artists may not overlap. He may consider the music universally attractive. The universally attractive theory proves to work; it ranked #7 in U.S. Rap Songs and #2 in Australia. The idea of listening the “The Show Goes On” a few more times does not completely disgust me, so I would say Lupe Fiasco accomplished a tremendous feat. He took a love-it-or-hate-it alternative rock song and turned it into an extremely successful hip-hop single.

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