By now you've no doubt heard, or rather seen, Cee-Lo Green's supremely NSFW "Fuck You" on YouTube. Green uploaded a video for his expletive-laden single August 19, and it quickly acquired late-summer anthem status, garnering millions of views and the adulation of Rolling Stone, which called it a contender for best track of 2010. Green, best known as half of Gnarls Barkley, released the video as a sneak preview of his third solo album, The Lady Killer, due in December—and took the YouTube route to circumvent the FCC's regulatory grip on the airwaves. The song became so popular so fast that it was rushed-released to radio within six days, in explicit and bleeped versions, and also as the watered-down "Forget You," which Green has said he hates. The video even spawned a remixed response by 50 Cent, who freestyles over the opening chords with customary bluster.
All this over a video in which there wasn't much to see: It consisted entirely of the song lyrics, in big block type, bouncing around to the tune onscreen. (See below.) The titular refrain appears simply, triumphantly, against a solid red background. Call it the anti-OK Go—a band whose video for "This Too Shall Pass," which went viral back in March, is an astonishingly complex feat of engineering that took the band six months to create; it features a giant Rube Goldberg machine timed in sync with the music. With a piano crashing to the ground on cue and band members supervising the spectacle in paint-splattered jumpsuits, the song itself is all but an afterthought. Green's video seems of a different era.