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The Rockologist: Pants On The Ground

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Repeat after me, kids:

Pants on the ground pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
with the gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground,
call yourself a cool cat
lookin’ like a fool
Walking downtown with your pants on the ground
Get it up!
Hey, get your pants off the ground!
Lookin’ like a fool,
Walkin, talkin’ with ya pants on the ground
Get it up!
Hey, get your pants off the ground!
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
Gold in the mouth, hat turned sideways
pants hit the ground,
call yourself a cool cat, Hey, get your pants off the ground!
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
Gold in the mouth, hat turned sideways
pants hit the ground
lookin’ like a fool,
walkin’, talkin’ with ya pants on the ground
Boom, yea pants on the ground
lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground!
with ya gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways
pants hit the ground, call yourself a cool cat…

Learn it, know it, live it. Because I’ve got this really odd feeling that General Larry Platt and his “Pants On The Ground” is going to be with us for a good long little while.

Has it really come to this?

I don’t know about you, but I sure hope so.

I’m normally not a big fan of American Idol, but I try never to miss the early episodes in order to see all the really bad singers during the initial audition stages. For sheer entertainment value, the William Hungs and the Bikini Girls of the world rarely disappoint.

But I also have to admit that even the whole bad-singer shtick has started to wear a bit thin in recent years. At best, it’s grown tiresome, and at its worst it’s just downright cruel, such as when Cowell and his cronies have ridiculed some of the more mentally challenged contestants in recent years. Remember when Simon called that one poor kid a monkey?

When Idol debuted its new season this past week, I feared more of the same, and it looked like that was what I was going to get. You had your token William Hung in that Korean kid who whispered his broken English through “All By Myself.” Yuk, Yuk, Yuk.

The freaks were equally represented by some goth-ghoul who looked like a cross between Marilyn Manson and Latoya Jackson. The righteously indignant rejects had their man for the season in the guy who stormed off screaming “Mary J. Blige can’t sing a damn lick,” middle fingers flying proudly for all of America to see.

Business as usual, right? But then along came 62 year old General Larry Platt with his “Pants on The Ground.”


All Rights to American Idol And FOX Television

Basically you can look at the whole “Pants On The Ground” phenomenon in a number of ways. You can see it as the short-term viral joke that it most likely is. You can also view it as a hopeful sign that the whole American Idol circus act may finally be close to having run its course, and that there may yet be hope for the pop music landscape it essentially ruined by reducing it to a game of survival of the fittest karaoke singer.

Personally though, I prefer to see General Larry Platt and his “Pants On The Ground” as a major artistic breakthrough. If we ever needed a Bob Dylan for the new millennium, we need it now. I submit to you that General Larry Platt may be that man. Hell, “Pants On The Ground” even has a ring to it not at all unlike “Like A Rolling Stone.”

When you break down the lyrics, Platt also has a message that is every bit as relevant and socially conscious as anything by Dylan, Springsteen, or Neil Young. In fact, when Jimmy Fallon did the song the other night under the guise of Young on his late night TV show, he turned it into a beautiful and haunting plea to the inner-city youth of America. Judge for yourself:

If this version is ever released on CD, I’ll be the first to buy it. Neil’s just more my speed. But beyond that, the timely message of finding inner-strength and taking pride in who you are is clear in the lyrics “Hey, get your pants off the ground/ Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground/
Gold in the mouth, hat turned sideways/ Pants hit the ground.”

This man is a major new discovery who might just be the poet that a new generation has been crying out for. General Platt isn’t just a visionary songwriter — he’s a true role model for the youth of America.

Besides all of that, the song itself has a hook that is simply unstoppable. Given a choice between Platt’s soulful funk and the non-stop parade of faceless singers and irritating-all-over-the-place vocals that Idol dishes up year after year, I’ll take Platt and his “Pants” any day.

Like Dylan and his ever-present croak, Platt also clearly understands the art of phrasing and control. A focus on a single turn of phrase for emphasis says more than cramming as many as octaves as is humanly possible into a single line ever will. General Larry Platt knows this.

Put this guy in a studio with someone like Timbaland, and for my money the possibilities are endless, as the numerous amateur remixes already out there clearly demonstrate (one of my favorites of which is featured in the video below). Even without the studio gimmickry, though, the acapella performance from Idol is catchier than anything on the last several Kanye West albums — and Platt doesn’t even need autotune.

Personally I still like Fallon’s dead-on, close-your-eyes-and-you’d-swear-it-was-him Neil Young version the best — even if it isn’t actually by Neil Young. But those crazy kids today will probably demand something a bit more contemporary and upbeat. Whatever it takes is what I say.

Pop music has never needed a new savior more than it does right now, and America could do a whole lot worse than General Larry Platt. With the heart of a poet and the soul of a bluesman, he is the total package. He even has a damn catchy name with that “General” moniker of his. Record industry take note, ’cause this is the answer to all of your prayers these past ten years or so.

Think I’m kidding? Think again. And if it seems like I may be a few days late in coming to the party, I respectfully disagree. The party in Platt’s pants is just getting started.

Repeat after me:

Pants on the ground pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
with the gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground,
call yourself a cool cat
lookin’ like a fool
Walking downtown with your pants on the ground…

Has it really come to this? One can only hope.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Looks like NBC has already yanked the great Fallon/Neil Young version of “Pants On The Ground.” But fear not. If you click on the video, just scroll across the extra videos on the bottom and you’ll find a few clips of the NY remix that still work. They’re not as good quality wise, but for now they do still work.

    -Glen

  • Jordan Richardson

    So great.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Without a doubt.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    We have a working Neil Young video now.

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    You know, the Neil Young-ish version does make “Pants” sound like social commentary! I’m waiting to hear Bob Dylan’s interpretation. ;)

  • SlickRick

    I run into the fat red-headed kid that sang God Bless America once in a while in the Renton highlands. You know the guy…his sidekick was the kid that Simon so affectionately called a”bushbaby”.