What's the Point of Releasing a Sting - Shaggy Album?
Because the 90s? "Don't Make Me Wait" Video
When Sting performed at the Grammys, it felt like a missed opportunity. In a year where hip-hop overwhelmingly dominated the culture (and, often, the top charts), four minutes of valuable stage time that could've gone to Migos instead deferred to a bland, old guard decision towards the come-and-gone. That feeling transitioned into something new when Sting brought on Shaggy, to perform the new single off their upcoming joint album, '44/876' (due April 20th). That feeling landed somewhere in between IRL Mad Lib and "Wait, what?".
Of course, there's a logic to a collaboration between these two. Since his days with The Police, Sting has occasionally forayed into what you might call pop-reggae fusion (or, as one AllMusic critic put it in 2010, "reggae-injected" rock).
Shaggy, then, plays the medium—his iconic Mista Lova-Lova voice adding an authentic flare Sting wouldn't have on his own. Evidently, this song and its upcoming album are a sort of tribute to reggae and Jamaican culture. The 'Don't Make Me Wait' music video projects as much: featuring those classic slow-mo shots of cute Jamaican kids playing soccer and having fun, inter-cut between Shaggy's reserved cool and Sting's weak attempts at facial expressiveness.
At a relaxed 90 bpm, Don't Make Me Wait didn't do anything to save its performers on the Grammys stage, though. Those nearest in the crowd did their best to add energy by clapping along, while the rest of Madison Square Garden sat idly by wondering what food would be served at the after party, or whether, if Shaggy and Sting could produce offspring together, the baby would look like that other Shaggy from 'Scooby-Doo'.
For as good as their intentions may have been, this single feels a bit...ersatz. The glossy video, the poppy feel (the whole song contains only six chords), especially the lyrics, project less of a true honoring of a worthy genre than a passing attempt at milking that genre for some leftover pop value. Here, for instance, is the most lyrically involved section of the entire song:
"It didn't take me long to fall in love with your mind
And I won't even mention the way your body perfectly design, so fine
And judging from your outlook on life, I knew this would be more than just one night
But now I'm ready for the next level and you're telling me you need more time, no crime
Nothing wrong with waiting a little bit, yuh know this is more to me than just hittin' it
But only get a love like this once inna life time and if this is our change I ain't missing it
My whole life I never felt like this, just wanna run where I don't wanna fight this
I ain't rushing yuh to make up yo mind, just wanna put some more quality in a we time
Come on, girl"
There wasn't an audience member as MSG that night who couldn't have written this verse. It appears to have very little to do with Jamaica. It's the sort of thing that makes the chorus--"Don't make me wait, don't make me wait/To love, to love, to love you"--sound more like "Don't make me wait, don't make me wait/To bang, to bang, to bang you." The music underneath isn't any more complex than the lyrical content, though it is quite catchy (in an ear worm way).
So we're now in wait-and-see mode. As Sting told Rolling Stone last month: "The most important thing to me in any kind of music is surprise. And everybody is surprised by this collaboration – by what they're hearing. We're surprising." Surprise they've very much achieved already, though surprise isn't known to cash checks. These performers will have to prove why, in 2018, they still belong on stage besides the likes of Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar.
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