My thoughts exactly. I thought the same with "Swimming Pools (Drank)" too...I feel like a lot of people aren't realizing that this song is sort of parodying his start in rap and "Drank" is disapproving of the wasted/faded lifestyle.
I guess it comes down to what sells for him/his label, which is kind of sad. I'd love to see "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe", "Art of Peer Pressure", or "Money Trees" as next single.
I hate when people say shit like this, especially about rappers. Of course an artist isn't going to intentionally pick songs that would perform poorer as singles, especially if they have a good chance of getting a lot of radio airplay etc. with a different song. "Backseat Freestyle" makes perfect sense as a single and is a great song. Who cares if people "get" it? Get over yourself.
Who says "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" or "Money Trees" would perform poorer? "Vibe" has a solid hook and "Trees" shortened a bit would do great on rap radio with potential crossover to mainstream/indie markets with that Beach House sample. Hell, he has a great song with Drake on the album...that's a surefire hit single right there. "Backseat" is a good song, but it's safe and not even close to the best song on the record. I know you don't really care about messages or rappers having lyrical depth beyond cars and sex, but there's a reason the album went Gold right as "Swimming Pools" was just peaking. This album's getting universally praised for its lyrics and story, simple as that. People are finding his voice and vulnerability refreshing at this point of commercialized rap. By taking the song that parodies his earliest attempts at imitating other rappers and making it the single, the wrong message is being sent about Kendrick's music and album.
EDIT: "Backseat Freestyle" is only the third single in the UK. "Poetic Justice feat. Drake" is the third single stateside. Placing my bet now that it'll hit Top 10 once a video comes out.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the fundamental basis of your argument is as follows: the label/artist should pick singles based upon the "message" of the album (as perceived by you), as opposed to how big of a hit they could be, correct? Kendrick is signed to Interscope. He's getting promoted like mad. A track with a Hit-Boy beat as massive as "Backseat Freestyle," especially given Kendrick's popularity at the moment, is bound to be a smash. I think most knew it would be a single from the moment they first heard it.
You keep saying this song is a parody. Is it? Really?
I almost mentioned "Money Trees" in my original post, as that is most likely going to be the next single after this one. Yes I know it's already a single in the UK; the UK radio market is vastly different from the American one. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if "Backseat Freestyle" doesn't become a single over there. "Money Trees" will certainly make a very good single, but it's more "laid-back" if you will, and isn't nearly as infectious as "Backseat." Not saying it isn't a good cut, just a different type of song. Also just because Drake's on a song doesn't guarantee it's a smash...it just increases the likelihood that it will be one.
I'm definitely not saying labels should solely focus on a song's message and completely disregard a more generically themed song's hit potential. I get that Interscope is running their business and is going by what likely sells best. My claim is that, as Kendrick is breaking out to mainstream success, he/the label should release a song that marries a solid beat with his amazing lyricism and storytelling. Yes, Hit-Boy absolutely killed it on that beat and, again, it's an easy hit. But compare the lyrics of that song to the lyrics from the rest of the album. They're a little overblown, goofy, lighthearted, and at the part of the album where the songs about him at 17-18 years old. It's definitely a side of Kendrick or was a part of him at one point in his life, but, if Section.80 and Good Kid have been any indication, his legacy will hopefully be as a writer that can supersede typical rap lyric conventions and make hits. I simply think "Backseat Freestyle" isn't the track that sets him apart from other rising rappers...but tracks like "Money Trees" and "Poetic Justice" might.
I just looked it up..."Poetic Justice" charted at No. 78 on Good Kid's release week without being designated as an upcoming single. If it's the next single in the US (which is looking to be the case), it's almost certain to do well.
I still don't get why it's not a good choice in your view. If someone is familiar with Kendrick's body of work then they already understand the context of "Backseat." If they aren't familiar with his work then they probably a.) don't care or b.) live under a rock at this point. Yes, "Backseat" is unlikely to further establish him as any of the things you want him to be established as blah blah blah but who cares? It's a really fucking good song that will go nuts on the radio and get Kendrick tons more exposure, primarily with people who don't give two shits about the qualities you described in terms of lyrical depth etc. Besides, the "pray my dick get big as the Eiffel tower" line is fucking genius anyway, so who cares.
As I said previously, that will make a great next single.
I tend to agree that "it doesn't matter what the artist was trying to say, it's still a hit"
it's a bit ironic that a bunch of people are getting drunk while listening to Swimming Pools and they think it's a drinking song
Yeah it definitely is both ironic and to a certain extent unfortunate that it's misinterpreted like that, but that kind of thing happens in popular music--especially when an artist has a song that operates on multiple levels and isn't simply comprised of base vapidity--and has for forever. (See also: Reagan attempting to use Springsteen's "Born in the USA" in the 80s as a campaign anthem/patriotic rallying cry, etc.)
I stand by what I said. A hit is a hit is a hit. And they're both good songs. Personally I'm just stoked to be able to turn on Top 40 and hear some shit I like a lot (Kendrick, Frank Ocean, Miguel, The Weeknd, most of the G.O.O.D. Music stuff and whatnot) alongside the sludge of shit.