LMFAO continues family tradition of redefining music

Benjamin Smith

Editor's Note: The Life & Arts senior staff combed through this year's pop culture and selected the artists, albums, books and movements that they think, in one way or another, helped define 2011. This is the first in a two-day series.

I hate the “club scene” like Batman hates injustice, and if you know anything about Batman, you know injustice is, like, the one thing he can’t stand. It’s only logical, then, that I should have a deep-seated hatred for LMFAO, the electro-pop duo that party rocks about nothing but drinking, grinding and screwing — I don’t though, and as it turns out, in 2011, few people did.

The group, made up of Stefan Kendal Gordy, or Redfoo, and his nephew Skyler Husten Gordy, better known as Sky Blu, hit it big over the summer with “Party Rock Anthem,” the first single from their new album Sorry For Party Rocking. The song reached No. 1 in seven countries and was followed up with “Sexy and I Know It,” which shared space in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Party Rock Anthem” for several weeks and is currently the No. 1 song on iTunes.

Sexy and I Know It” is also the No. 1 music video on iTunes. Consisting mostly of gratuitous shots of men’s junk bouncing around in neon leopard print banana hammocks, the cartoonish opus to the group’s genitalia features a slew of cameos by “Dancing With the Stars”-level “celebrities” like Ron Jeremy and Wilmer Valderrama and currently has about 148 million views on YouTube. 148 million is an impressive number of views, but it’s still a pretty paltry number by LMFAO standards — their video for “Party Rock Anthem” currently has more than twice that.

The music videos of LMFAO are the point of demarcation between them and the likes of other electro-pop artists like Ke$ha and 3OH!3. While Ke$ha’s videos are little more than episodes of “Intervention,” the majority of LMFAO videos are self-aware exhibitions of postmodernism.

I know how that sounds and yes, my hands cramped up in silent protest as I wrote it, but before you get your ironic mustaches in a twist Austin, just hear me out.
That LMFAO might be more than they appear first occurred to me when I watched the 10-and-a-half-minute long video about a curling tournament they made for a three-minute song called “Yes,” which followed a three-act structure and climaxed with a heavy-handed performance by Jamie Foxx. Then I saw the video for “Party Rock Anthem” — it’s an homage to zombie films, most notably “28 Days Later,” but more than that it’s pretty much a commentary on the mindlessness of the song itself. The sequel to that video, “Champagne Showers,” has them fighting sexy vampires with masturbatory hand gestures and holy champagne bestowed upon them by a break-dancing Jesus. It became clear from these videos that LMFAO knew what it was doing — that the group’s persona is calculated.

Looking at the pedigree of Redfoo and Sky Blu themselves, one finds that the duo grew up immersed in popular music. The Gordy family is music industry royalty — the family’s patriarch, Berry Gordy Jr. is the founder of Motown, the record label that almost single-handedly racially-integrated popular music. Stefan Kendal Gordy/Redfoo, who up until the formation of LMFAO was a day trader, is his son. The duo’s career bleeds with an understanding and appreciation of pop music past and present and reads more as a commentary on that than a continuation of it. By satirizing pop music’s present, the group looks to reclaim it’s past — the watershed music videos of Michael Jackson that blended filmmaking and music and the Motown classics that transcended race and culture with infectious melodies and universally relatable lyrics.