In The Ones of the ’10s, I’m reviewing every single that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 2010s and working my way up into the present.
Far East Movement- “Like a G6” (feat. The Cataracs & Dev)
HIT #1: October 30, 2010
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
One big trend in music during the 2010s was the globalization of pop. As social media allowed for artists and their fans to stay connected and music streaming services like Spotify were launched, it gave music listeners unlimited access to all kinds of music, genres, and artists that wouldn’t have had much of a chance in the United States. Now all of sudden these types of music started to gain success. This is especially true of Asian based genres such as k-pop which would wind up becoming one of the most popular genres in the 2010s largely thanks to loyal fanbases and a growing Asian-American population.
Despite all that, Asian and Asian-American artists have tended not to have much success when it comes to the pop charts. Most of this is largely due to industry racism with worries about how to market Asian and Asian-American acts in the American music market considering most of the songs are usually not sung in English. And when an Asian foreign-language song like PSY’s “Gangnam Style” crosses over, it’s usually regarded as a viral novelty and not representative of the genre as a whole (“Gangnam Style” peaked in 2012 at #2. It really should have hit #1 but didn’t thanks to Billboard methodology rules that we’ll get into later on. It’s an 8.).
There have been exceptions. In 1963, Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Arukou),” a song fully sung in Japanese, managed to hit #1 on the Hot 100 in an era dominated by surf rock, girl groups, and Wall of Sound pop. In 1978, Hawaiian born and half-Japanese singer Yvonne Elliman hit #1 with the Bee Gees written disco track “If I Can’t Have You” which owed its success to its inclusion in the blockbuster film Saturday Night Fever and its best selling soundtrack.
32 years later, Asian representation on the Hot 100 reached a new high point with back to back #1 singles from Asian-American artists. Bruno Mars, who is half-Filipino, got to #1 with “Just The Way You Are.” After 4 weeks on top, the rap group Far East Movement landed at #1 with their mindless party jam “Like a G6” becoming the first Asian-American group to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Far East Movement formed in 2003 with high school friends Kevin Nishimura (Kev Nish), James Roh (Prohgress), and Jae Choung (J-Splif) with DJ Virman Coquia joining a few years later. They started performing around their native Los Angeles and putting their music online. They started putting out music in 2005 with their mixtape Audio-Bio and put out a few independent albums, 2006’s Folk Music and 2007’s Animal. Through this, their buzz started growing as their songs were being used for various TV and movie spots. They eventually signed to a major record deal with Cherrytree Records, a subsidiary of Interscope Records.
Looking for material for a new album, the Far East Movement heard of a new song called “Booty Bounce” from up and coming singer Dev and her two-man producer team called The Cataracs. The Cataracs had noticed Dev on MySpace where she uploaded two songs and got her to join them in the studio where they signed to the label Indie-Pop. In August 2010, they released “Booty Bounce,” a pretty annoying piece of hip-hop influenced electropop.
The part that got sampled in “Like a G6” appears twice in “Booty Bounce.” The Cataracs decided on the line “like a G6” so they could rhyme with the previous line “Sippin’ sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6,” which was a reference to the Three 6 Mafia song “Sippin’ On Some Syrup,” (Three 6 Mafia have never gotten a Top 10 single. Their highest-charting single, 2005’s “Stay Fly,” peaked at #13. Member Juicy J though will eventually appear in this column as a featured artist.). The G6 refers to the private airplane model Gulfstream IV, known as a G4, as The Cataracs had heard it being referenced in many songs but felt G6 would scan better than G4 (The Gulfstream VI had already come out in 2009.).
When The Cataracs got in contact with the Far East Movement for a new song, they produced a new beat and sampled the bridge of “Booty Bounce” which eventually gave way to the title “Like a G6.” As Dev recalls, “I remember when the Cataracs just made the beat and I would listen to the beat in the car, I just loved it so much. The next step was to make the hook, and the Cataracs and I just loved the bridge that we had just laid down for “Booty Bounce” so much, they were like, “We should put this over [Far East Movement’s track].” And I was like, “If you guys wanna do it, I’m down.” It ended up being a massive song and gave me so much experience and opportunity and it was absolutely beautiful. Thank god I agreed to that!”
“Like a G6” is basically another party song. It has a maddenly repetetive hook that stays in your head forever the moment you hear it. Dev’s hook is used to better effect here than it was on “Booty Bounce” and helps carry the song along. It’s a good thing for that because the Far East Movement’s parts aren’t all that impressive. We get lyrics describing a wild night partying filled with heavy drinking which includes drinking cough syrup, “Sippin on, sippin on sizz, I’ma ma-make it fizz.” In the chorus, all artists celebrate this debauchery as it makes them feel so high like a private airplane. All of this is delivered in an annoying and phony way that doesn’t leave much impact. The Autotune they use on the bridge is reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” from 2009 adding to the annoyance.
There’s not a lot to like about “Like a G6:” the reckless debauchery, the annoying phony delivery, and the glossy-repetitive production. And yet I find myself enjoying it every once in a while for a mindless party jam. Maybe it’s middle school nostalgia but it’s still a fun time to listen to. And really, “Like a G6” sounds a lot like what you’d expect for a song describing a drunken night out and its after-effects. Nothing all that great but not the worst either.
All three artists would never hit #1 again after “Like a G6.” For the Far East Movement, they notched one more Top 10 hit with “Rocketeer” with OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder which peaked at #7 in 2011 (It’s a 5. As a member of OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder has had two singles peak at #2: 2007’s Timbaland collaboration “Apologize” and 2013’s “Counting Stars.” “Apologize” is a 7. “Counting Stars” is a 9.). They’ve released more singles and albums in the following years to diminishing returns in the US. Dev never made it into the Top 10 again though got close with 2011’s “In The Dark” which peaked at #11 before dropping off the mainstream. The Cataracs would go on to continue producing music for Dev along with other artists such as Robin Thicke, Selena Gomez, Enrique Iglesias, and 50 Cent but never made another big hit in the vein of “Like a G6.”
BONUS BEATS: Here’s Richard Cheese’s lounge cover of “Like a G6” that he included on his 2011 album A Lounge Supreme
BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s a 2011 Dunces & Dragons parody of “Like a G6” called “Roll a D6”
THE 10S OF THE ’10S: Taylor Swift’s post-breakup country ballad “Back To December” peaked at #6 behind “Like a G6.” It’s an 8.
(Taylor Swift will eventually appear in this column)