Good news, everyone! The Internet Outrage Machine had a great day yesterday. People were angry over Nazi imagery in Nicki Minaj’s lyric video for “Only.” People were angry that Eminem made light of the Ray Rice situation in the Shady Cypher. But mostly people were outraged to learn that Ariana Grande and Jessie J were remaking Brandy and Monica’s 1998 smash hit “The Boy Is Mine.”
The song is being made at the behest of the song’s original producer, Rodney “Darkchild” Jenkins, who explained to Hits Daily Double in an interview yesterday that, “Next year is my 20-year anniversary, and I’m doing a very special project. Some originals as well as reimagined hits. So for example, I’ll do the 'The Boy Is Mine' with Ariana and Jessie J.” Despite the fact one of the creators of the song thinks it's OK to remake it, tweets and thinkpieces rang out about how this is such a terrible idea and basically the worst thing to ever happen to anyone. Sigh.
Calm your nerves. There’s nothing wrong with remaking a song from the Golden Age of America a.k.a. That '90s Show. Please stop with the Internet Outrage. Especially because you, me, and everyone else who wrote something about the upcoming song haven’t even heard the song yet. Is it gonna suck? Probably. If it sucks, that means it’ll be just like the majority of recorded music. If you're not willing to at least hear the song before decrying it, well in the wise words of Chris Rock, “Anyone that makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fucking fool.”
Second, and more importantly, the original version of that song is not some holy text. Nothing is sacred. If you’re offended at the mere suggestion that Ariana Grande and Jessie J could hold a candle to Brandy and Monica, bear in mind that the original “Boy Is Mine” is a response song (though not line for line) to “The Girl Is Mine”—a song by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Now, maybe Ariana and Jessie aren’t quite Brandy and Monica (and a response song isn’t quite a cover), but nobody is gonna say Brandy and Monica could compare to the Beatles and the guy who made Thriller. Not to mention that “The Girl Is Mine” is, in fact, on Thriller.
And finally, let's not forget that covers can still be great songs—even if they don't surpass the originals. If remaking a Brandy/Monica song is considered blasphemous, then isn't remaking a Michael Jackson song worse? Well, where was the outrage when the Weeknd—who didn't even have an official album out at that point—recorded an excellent cover of MJ's "Dirty Diana" in 2012? What about when Alien Ant Farm (remember them?) blew up in 2001 with a cover of "Smooth Criminal?" Maybe you don't care for Marsha Ambrosius covering Portishead's "Sour Times" (I sure don't), but that shouldn't stop you from jamming to AlunaGeorge's cover of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." And if you wanna talk '90s classics, Blackstreet's "No Diggity" is as classic as it gets—and for my money, it's better than "Boy Is Mine." And yet, a white dude with a bushy beard named Chet Faker not only did it justice but put his own spin on it.
I suppose I ought to be more offended because I’m old enough to remember watching the music video for the original “The Boy Is Mine” on The Box. As a child, I didn’t know Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” was a response to “The Girl Is Mine”—just like I didn’t know Puffy was remaking hits from the '80s even though he said just that on “Feel So Good.” But then again, in 1998, I was 12 years old and Thriller was released when I was negative 4, so why would I know?
1998 was a long time ago. If you’re 12 right now, then the original “The Boy Is Mine” came out when you were negative 6. Which means you probably never heard of Monica, and if you do know Brandy it’s probably because she’s the sister of the guy who made a sextape with Kim Kardashian. Oh, and that 12- to 18-year-old demo, that’s kinda where pop stars like Ariana Grande clean up nicely. So let the babies have their bottles of reprocessed junk.
But no, we can’t let the kids have nice things without throwing a fit. Not for their sake mind you, but for our own. News of someone remaking a '90s song doesn’t signal the end of integrity in music (integrity in music? Lolz!). It just means the '90s were so long ago you can remake it and young people won’t care. Which leads to more good news everyone! You’re old, you’re getting older, and one of these days, you’re going to die.
Have a great week!
Insanul Ahmed is a Associate Editor for Complex living in Los Angeles. He believes nothing is sacred and plans on killing all of his idols. Follow him on Twitter.