Rhymes

Report from Rick Porter here:

Grammys 2011: Cee Lo Green, his puppets and Gwyneth Paltrow steal the show

Lady Gaga took the stage in an egg at the Grammys. Cee Lo Green came dressed as a peacock — and because he brought puppets and Gwyneth Paltrow, well, we kinda think he upstaged Lady Gaga.

Cee Lo performed the radio-friendly version of his infectious, Grammy-nominated song “F*** You” — identified on the show as “the song otherwise known as ‘Forget You'” — at Sunday’s (Feb. 13) Grammys, sitting at a mirror-covered piano wearing a suit of red feathers, a breastplate and chain-mail coif and a riot of giant, multi-colored feathers on his back.

And also: Puppets! A puppet band, complete with three puppet backup singers and a weird-looking dog bopping along at the piano, accompanied Cee Lo on the first couple of verses before Gwyneth Paltrow, who performed “F*** You” when she was a guest star on “Glee,” joined him for the remainder of the song. She did her best impression of Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” slinking around on the top of the piano.

But mostly, the feathers and the puppets. That was just fantastic.

(Video on this site and many others.)

Cee Lo took home a Grammy for “Fuck You”, as Best Urban/Alternative Performance. In any case, the media had once again to cope with the song’s title. (Earlier discussion on this blog here and here.)

Maybe the most inventive approach was taken by Stephen Colbert, who on November 9 owlishly offered “Fox News” to Cee Lo as a rhyming replacement for “Fuck You”. Not exactly a rhyme, but a complex combination of imperfect pun and half rhyme, producing something that strongly suggests the original without using anything taboo (while simultaneously getting in a jab at Fox News). Some details:

News for you is a simple half rhyme, of the “subsequence type”: youse would be a full rhyme for news, and you would be a full rhyme for new, but instead we have /uz/ matched with the subsequence /u/ — all of this in service of getting Fox News as a result.

Fox for fuck is more complicated, though it also has the matching of a longer sequence (/ks/) with a subsequence (/k/). (There’s a nice parallelism in that both words in Fox News have a final alveolar fricative lacking in the corresponding words of fuck you.) But in addition it has /fak/ matching /fʌk/, which is more than half rhyme; it’s an almost perfect match — an imperfect pun — with the only difference lying in the matching of the (phonetically very similar) vowels /a/ and /ʌ/.

One Response to “Rhymes”

  1. Ben Zimmer Says:

    Cee Lo’s avian outfit has spawned another rhyming variant: “Pluck You.

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