tremble clef

Monday, December 11, 2006

Omarion featuring Timbaland, "Ice Box" (2006)

I don't have much patience with the protagonists of songs who spend the track proclaiming that they've been hurt before, and now they're really complicated as a result, so, hey, they've got to take it slow (by which they often mean: I'm going to keep playing the field while I "heal"). In other words, songs like Take That's "Patience." Oddly enough, in real life, I seem to have a lot more tolerance for that kind of emotional manipulation; or at least I did once, even if I now think "never again." But that's a different story for another time.

When I first heard Omarion's "Ice Box," I thought it was the same kind of song. But the track actually catches its narrator in the process of being legitimately messed up: he has been spending a lot of time fighting with his girl, whom he now barely recognizes, and feels himself growing frosty ands detached as a result. "I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin'," he tells her, and us. "And I really hope you still want me the way I want you/I said I really wanna work this out, damn girl I'm tryin'." He has the self-awareness to acknowledge that "it's no excuse, no excuse." But he also knows that he's gradually getting -- may have already gotten -- "this icebox where [his] heart used to be."

What makes the song especially vivid is that we get to hear, in a sense, the creeping process of numbness Omarion battles against, because his vocals sit on top on of some terrifically icy synths that clearly represent his heart dying and turning cold. These come courtesy of Timbaland; although it sounds a bit like he's recycling the synth sound that, this year, will be more associated with Justin Timberlake's "My Love," it's sonically more apt here. Timbaland's other contribution is in the form of backing vocals. It's almost automatic that this is the less vital contribution, but it's especially the case here, because the vocals largely consist of his intoning the line, "I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold." It's awkward because redundant -- we just heard about Omarion's heart being an ice box, so we get that it's going to be cold, dude. No need to state the obvious -- but, in the final reckoning, a blip on an otherwise impeccable track.

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