Get Ugly: A Literary Analysis

Tonight I’m going to start an ongoing series of posts where I, a man with an English Literature degree, will analyze and translate popular songs that my daughters subject me to both at home and on the road.  My English Literature education had proved to be of little use otherwise and I figured this would finally put my parents money to good use.  So here you go Mom and Dad!  Enjoy!

With this first post we will look a little deeper into Jason Derulo’s song Get Ugly Jason’s real name is Jason Joel Desrouleaux.  This other spelling of Derulo is French in origin.  Jason’s parents were Hatian and Haiti was colonized by the French way back when so this is how Jason ended up with a last name of French origin.  Haiti was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492.  Spain created a colony there and controlled Haiti until the 17th century.  It was then that France began colonizing the western half of the island.  Slaves were brought to Haiti from Africa to work the sugarcane plantations.  But during the Haitian Revolt that began in 1791, the slaves and free people of color defeated Napoleon himself to claim Haiti for themselves. Thus, Haiti is the only nation in the world to have been formed by a successful slave revolt!  However, none of this has anything to do with the song, Get Ugly, although some might suggest that things got pretty ugly for Napoleon back in 1804.

Below are the lyrics of the song.  My commentary and analysis will be provided within the song.  Jason’s words are in regular font.  Mine will be in italics.

 

“Get Ugly”

Girl, ladies, let your hurr down
Let your hurr down
We’s about to get down
In this first verse of the song, Jason is suggesting to the ladies that they might be inclined to “let their hurr down”.  Hurr, in this case, refers to hair which is a protein filament that grows from follicles located in the dermis of humans both male and female.  Sometimes this “hurr” is contained with a band of elastic nature “up” on the head.  This is usually done to control the hair while the human conducts the more serious affairs of life such as work or study.  But when the human female (in this case) is ready for less serious pursuits such as getting “tipsy off that peach Ciroc”, which will be a subject extrapolated by Mr. Derulo in the next verse, they may “let their hurr down” thus freeing it from it’s elastic based prison and allowing it to swing about in a way that suggests merriment.  This idea is further supported by the final line of the verse, “We’s about to get down”.  Getting down is a slang term for celebrating or “partying” which are some of the most common activities carried out while the hair is down.

Oh my, oh my, oh my God
This girl straight and this girl not
Tipsy off that peach Ciroc
Like la la la
Ching-a-lang-lang, ching-a-ling-a-lang-lang
Jeans so tight I could see loose change
Do your thang, thang, girl
Do that thang like la la la

In this verse, Mr. Derulo gets more specific about the qualities of the women who have just recently let their hurr down.  He begins with an exclamatory statement “oh my god” which suggests that he is surprised or excited by the women in his immediate vicinity.  The video interpretation of the song supports this explanation of the exclamatory statement as the females in the video all seem to be both willing to procreate and of a high quality of health that would make them prime candidates for motherhood.  However, as the second line states, not all of the females are heterosexual.  One of them, Mr. Derulo states, is “not straight” meaning that she prefers that another woman stimulates her genitalia.  While this sort of woman may still have the attributes that Mr. Derulo finds attractive, her preference for other females makes her less likely to procreate as she is not fond of the penis.  The next line tells us that at least one of the women is “tipsy off peach Ciroc”.  Ciroc is a brand of Vodka, a distilled alcoholic beverage, in this case flavored with peach.  Alcohol is known to lower the inhibitions of the person who partakes of it and is also considered to be and aphrodisiac.  The combination of these two factors makes the “tipsy” woman more likely to want to procreate with Mr Derulo which would be a secondary explanation for him exclaiming “oh my God”.  The next part of the verse could serve two purposes. “Like la la la Ching-a-lang-lang, ching-a-ling-a-lang-lang” could just be verbal frivolity that is pleasing to the ear and used to set up rhymes with words in future lines such as “thang”.  However, the urban dictionary tells us that ching a ling is:  “The object of thrusting your body in a forward and backward motion in a seductively alluring manner in order to attract the opposite sex, or in rare occasions, the same sex.”  This definition corroborates my earlier analysis that the women of the song are hoping to entice Mr Derulo to situate his penis in such a way that it might fertilize their ova upon release of the ejaculate.  Although the definition allows for the other females mentioned in the song who have no interest at all in Mr. Derulo’s ejaculate.  But that doesn’t disallow these particular women from the activity of ching-a-linging.  The next line describes the clothing choice of at least one of the women mentioned in the song.  She is wearing jeans which are one of the most common lower body garments for both men and women.  They are most often made of a material called denim and are usually the color blue, although any hue is acceptable.  These particular jeans are possibly too small for their occupant as Mr. Derulo seems certain that he would be able to see monetary units called coins through the material, should the woman possess any.  Mr Derulo then suggests to the penniless woman in the too small jeans that she “do your thang”.  Once again, based on the video, her thang seems to be bending at the waist, placing her hands on her knee joints, and causing her gluteal muscles to vellicate rapidly.

Tell them pretty-faced girls tryna brass each other
And them undercover freaks who ain’t nun’ but trouble
Baby, I’mma tell you some’ only cause I love ya
People all around the world sexy motherfuckers

Mr. Derulo begins by suggesting that there is something we should tell the attractive women who are trying to “brass each other”.  Once again, we will refer to the urban dictionary for the definition of “to brass”.  It says “Commonly used following the infliction or inflicting of defeat, or when you fail in an endeavor and are consequently embarrassed, or when you inflict bodily pain upon yourself or someone else”. So, it would seem that the attractive women are trying to inflict pain or defeat upon each other.  This is a common practice among the famales of many species when vying for the attention of a male, in this case, Mr Derulo.   But we’re not just supposed to tell THESE women something but also the women referred to in the second line, “them undercover freaks who ain’t nun’ but trouble”. First, let’s translate this line into the King’s English, for better or worse.  Undercover suggests that the women referred to as freaks are attempting to hide the qualities that make them freaks.  Based on the context, it would seem that “freaks” refers to women who’s sexual proclivities fall outside the societal norms.  In Mr Derulo’s opinion, these women who are attempting to conceal their unusual sexual proclivities are most likely to create turmoil in his life. Mr Drulo is not clear about why these particular women are “nun’ but trouble” and it is beyond this author’s scope of knowledge to presume to understand why.  My education in literature left me ill prepared to analyze women with unusual sexual proclivities.  The very closest representative to this sort of woman in American literature was Hester Prynne and I would hesitate to refer to her as an “undercover freak”.  So we will move onto the message that Mr Derulo wishes to impart, not only to the “pretty faced girls” and the “undercover freaks” but also to the “sexy motherfuckers” all around the world.  Before we get to that message though I suppose we should analyze who the “motherfuckers” are.  It is clear that the word fuck means to copulate.  It is also clear what the word mother means.  But is Mr Derulo really directing this message to individuals who have copulated with their female parent?  If we expand the definition a bit to include those who copulate with A mother who isn’t necessarily HIS mother then the word can encompass many who are less deviant than a man who would have sexual realtions with his own mother.  Any father is “technically” a motherfucker as they copulated with a woman who was or soon became a mother.  It may be this more liberal use of the term motherfucker that led to the acronym MILF which we will likely analyze further in a future post when we discuss Fergie’s song M.I.L.F.$
Get ugly
Yeah, get ugly, baby
Get ugly
You’re too sexy to me
Sexy to me
You’re too sexy to me
Sexy to me
So sexy
Damn, that’s ugly
It is here in the song’s chorus that we finally get to the message that Mr Derulo has been leading up to. The message is “Get ugly”, the title of the song.  So what is he referring to?  Once again I am going to rely on the urban dictionary for an explanation.  In this case, there are two choices so we many need to use the context clues to derive which meaning Mr Derulo is referring to.  The first definition is “to get drunk”.  While the earlier lines of the piece certainly suggest that Mr Derulo wants the women involved to be inebriated, it seems that they were already much progressed along this road by the second verse so it seems unlikely that the entire thesis of the song is that the women should drink more alcohol to the point of intoxication.  The second definition is, “To get down to get dirty or nasty ; to get bad if you’re a good person”.  I find it far more likely that Mr Derulo was referring to this definition of the phrase get ugly.  The first part of the definition “to get down” was exactly what Mr Derulo suggested that the women should do in the very first verse of the song.  However, the second part of the definition is a bit of a puzzler.  “To get dirty or nasty” might suggest that he wishes the women of the song to act in a way that would deviate from the average sexual habits of other females.  Hmm, where have we heard this description before?  Perhaps when we were discussing “undercover freaks”?  Well I for one am a bit confused.  According to Mr Derulo, this sort of woman is traditionally “nun’ but trouble”.  But now he is requesting that the pretty faced girls as well as the undercover freaks AS WELL as sexy motherfuckers all around the world should get ugly.  Well god damn, Mr Derulo, make up your mind!  The undercover freaks are already “ugly” by any definition suggested heretofore. Are you suggesting that they should become ugly to an even greater degree?  As far as the sexy motherfuckers go, I’m not sure it gets any uglier than copulating with one’s mother.  But I digress.  Perhaps Mr Derulo is employing the technique of hyperbole — extreme exaggeration — to merely expand upon his original thesis that the ladies should “let their hurr down”.  

Bruh, I can’t, I can’t even lie
I’m about to be that guy
Someone else gon’ have to drive me home
La la la
Bang-a-rang-rang, bang-a-ring-a-rang-rang
Bass in the trunk, vibrate that thang
Do your thang, thang, girl
Do that thang like la la la

Much of this verse is populated with ideas expressed in earlier verses such as “la la la” and “do your thang, girl”, and another version of “la la la”.  But there are some new ideas here too.  The first two lines are somewhat open to interpretation.  “Bruh” is generally considered another way of saying “bro” which could be an abbreviated form of the word “brother” but not necessarily a biological brother.  Mr Derulo is probably speaking to one of his male compatriots when he uses the word bruh.  He then suggests that he “can’t even lie”.  I assume that he is attached to some sort of equipment that is measuring his physiological responses and would alert his associates if her were to tell a lie.  Or he could suffer from a similar medical condition to the somewhat infamous Pinocchio whose nose elongated when he was not truthful.  A third possibility is that Mr Derulo has lost the ability to lie because of sociological or biological conditioning.  Whatever the case, we are led to believe that Mr Derulo is being truthful when he says that he is “about to be that guy”.  Without further explanation, we have no way of knowing who “that guy” is.  “That guy” could be anyone from Pee Wee Herman to Ronald Reagan.  We just can’t be sure with the information provided.  Luckily, further clues are included in the very next line, “someone else gon’ have to drive me home”.  Now there are a thousand reasons that someone else would need to drive Mr Derulo home from a flat tire to elective surgery, but given the themes of the piece up until now, I think we can assume that Mr Derulo expects to soon be inebriated.  Is this because he too decided to “get ugly”?  This is the most likely explanation.  The next line of the song is rather open to interpretation.  Bang-a-rang is most known to all of us as the battle cry of the lost boys in the movie Hook.  However, this hardly fits with the other themes put forth by Mr Derulo.  A second definition is “Jamaican slang defined as a hubbub or uproar”.  This one makes far more sense.  Jamaica is a mere 100 miles from Haiti where Mr Derulo’s parents originated, so it is quite possible that some of Jamaica’s slang phrases migrated into the Derulo vocabulary.  Also, the idea of a hubbub or uproar fits well with the idea of “getting ugly”.  The final original line of the verse is “Bass in the trunk, vibrate that thing”.  I think what were seeing here from Mr Derulo is the use of another literary device, double entendre.  As Chanel West Coast described so eloquently in her song “Bass in the Trunk”
Bass in the fucking trunk, bitch
Get the fuck outta here
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
This is the more obvious interpretaion of bass in the trunk — music speakers installed in the rear compartment of a car to enhance the lower notes of a musical arrangement.  However, I am going to suggest that Mr Derulo was also suggesting an alternate defintion of bass in the trunk.  “Trunk” is often used to refer to the posterior or gluteal area of a woman’s anatomy.  The next line, “vibrate that thang” could be referring to the vibration that would be caused by the reverberation of the bass from the speakers in the rear compartment of the automobile.  HOWEVER, when we combine this idea with the line “do your thing, girl” with the image in the video interpreation of the song where in a woman is causing her gluteal muscles to vellicate rapidly, well, I think we can see that Mr Derulo may have had something else in mind entirely than Chanel West Coast did.
Tell them pretty-faced girls tryna brass each other
And them undercover freaks who ain’t nun’ but trouble
Baby, I’mma tell you some’ only cause I love ya
People all around the world sexy motherfuckers

Chorus

Ay, Ricky
This beat give me that ugly face, man
Everybody lose control
Let’s get ugly, dysfunctional
Everybody lose control
Let’s get ugly, dysfunctional

Tell them pretty-faced girls tryna brass each other
And them undercover freaks who ain’t nun’ but trouble
Baby, I’mma tell you some’ only cause I love ya
People all around the world sexy motherfuckers

Light them up then pass that, pass that
La la la
Everybody lose control
Let’s get ugly, dysfunctional
Get ugly
You know what I’m talking about
You’re too sexy to me
Sexy to me
You’re too sexy to me
Sexy to me
So sexy
Damn, that’s ugly

The rest of the song is more of the same with a couple of exceptions.  In one line, Mr Derulo is speaking to someone named Ricky.  I think that we can assume that the Ricky being referred to is co-writer and producer, Ricky Reed.  Another line suggests that we should “light them up then pass that, pass that”.  Unfortunately, I believe that Mr Derulo may be referring here to marijuana, a substance that is still illegal in many states.  But, as the song suggests, we should “get ugly”.  I consider the use of illicit drugs to be a little beyond, “ugly”, but I’m not here to offer social commentary, only literary analysis.  And I hope I have done so successfully in this maiden edition of “Guy with an English Literature degree analyzes modern pop music”.  I very much enjoyed breaking down Mr Derulo’s work.  I hope you enjoyed reading it.

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