Yesterday, @snarke was playing the new Taylor Swift album as we were driving around, and during the intro to one of the songs, I inserted some Willyisms, those filler words that Will Smith drops into his music (see “uh,” “a-HA!”, “whut,” “word,” etc). Many of his characters seem to have the same predilection.
But my extraordinary rapping skills failed that day, because @snarke did not realize the Willenium was upon us; no, dear Reader, she thought I had entered into Boy Band Mode. This delighted me, for it allowed me to revisit the best of all possible singing tropes: The Thing Where The Guy With The Deep Voice Says “Girl,” And Then Has A Sensitive Conversation Via A Pop Song.
Now, we could argue, you and I, about the most beloved, perfectly-executed TTWTGWTDVSGATHASCVAPS, and you would be correct as long as you concluded that it’s “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, carried by the sonorous stylings of Michael McCary.
Let’s investigate further, shall we?
Girl, I’m here for you
This is the most important section of Michael’s soliloquy because not only does he tell the woman he’s here for her, but he does so in a much more dramatically-deep timbre that we expect. It clues us, the audience which has no real business eavesdropping on this private moment, that what he’s about to say will be incredibly serious and probably seductive. GIRL.
All those times at night
When you just hurt me
And just ran out with that other fella
Baby I knew about it
I just didn’t care
This…does not seem to be a great argument. Michael, you’ve spent the last two and a half minutes singing about the woman with whom you’d wanted to spend the rest of your days, the one you can’t let go of although you’ve come to the end of the road. It’s unnatural! You belong to each other. Remember all that? So telling her you don’t care about this apparently long-standing affair is not really accomplishing your objective here. HOWEVER, the manner in which you say “Baby, I knew about it” projects CONFIDENCE, and people love confidence.
You just don’t understand how much I love
I’m here for you
Here, Michael starts to mansplain his love for the One Who Got Away, but then reminds her again that he’s here for her. This is the second time he’s made this claim in less than 20 seconds, but this iteration is different: he says “I’m here for YOU.” Previously, before we all knew each other, it was a lowercase “you.” This is a whole new level.
I’m not about to go out and cheat on you all night
(Maybe I’ll forgive you)
Just like you did baby
But that’s all right
I love you anyway
(Maybe you will try)
And I’m still going to be here for you until my dying day
Michael, being one who’s Here For You, isn’t going to cheat on the Girl, as she did to him. No, instead, he’s going to remind her a third time that he’s here for her, but NOW it’s until his dying day. None of this short-term Hereing For You for our man Michael. He’s in this for the long haul.
(We should be happy together forever)
Just come back to me
While the rest of the Boyz butt in on the conversation, our cavernously-voiced crooner informs the Girl that he’s in pain. So much pain, in fact, that he asks her to return to him, but then keeps talking even before she’s permitted more than one second to respond. His “just come back to me” is impassioned, pleading. It’s such an earnest “back” that you’d endorse it for office.
Yes baby, my heart is lonely (Lonely)
And as it happens, the “back” was only the beginning, because now Michael is emphasizing syllables all willy-nilly. “My heart is lonely,” he says, adding “My heart hurts, baby,” in case the Girl hadn’t picked up what he was putting down. “He finishes with “I feel pain too,” driving his point home before asking her one again to reconsider. He’s sincere, honest, and singing in the basement’s basement.