I’m a little late to this party, but have been meaning to write something about Strip That Down since it was released.
The thing about this song is… everything the critics have said about it is true. It is a “summer club banga.” It is, as someone called Jordan from Express and Star opines, “incredibly fun to listen to.” Even Laurence Mozafari from Digital Star is correct – “the song screams of trying to be grown up.”
When I was freshly 18 our favourite club was called The London. The floor was sticky, the music changed every two minutes, and the DJ said “put your hands up” in the mic before every drop (each drop sounded exactly the same). They did Jagerbombs for $3. I think that says it all. This song is exactly the kind of song that would be wild at a club like The London. Pulsating, in a melodic way. Danceable. Singalong-able.
But, goddamn, from the moment I first heard this song, all I could think was – Liam! You have just had a baby with a woman ten years your senior!!! The baby was born in March, the song came out in May. I don’t know how long the song was in planning, but he would have surely known Cheryl was pregnant as far back as July 2016… So allow me to analyse this song’s lyrics in light of that fact to reveal to you, dear reader, exactly how utterly confused this song’s message is.
The first verse discusses retreating from the spotlight, chilling out, until meeting a girl whose “love, it hit me hard” and is “bad for my health” – well FUCK, Liam, are you sure you want to have a baby with her in that case?
Moving on, the contradictions abound.
I just wanna have fun and (get rowdy)
One Coke and Bacardi (sippin’ lightly)
One Coke and Bacardi? Dude, that is so not my definition of getting rowdy! Do you see what I mean?
And the chorus is all about meeting a girl and… dancing with her in the club, I suppose? I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of “strip that down for me.” It does bring up, for me, connotations of literally removing clothes. Liam has mentioned the word in interviews, in the context of wanting to strip back the music. So, perhaps, in the chorus he is both talking to the girl (Now there’s a lot of people in the crowd/But only you can dance with me) and the DJ (You know, I love it when the music’s loud/But c’mon, strip that down for me). This leaves it ambiguous as to which one of those he is referencing when he says “Oh, strip that down, girl/Love it when you hit the ground, girl.”
Maybe he is talking to one person in the whole chorus – a girl who is a DJ? Simultaneously controlling the music and slut dropping on him? But Cheryl Cole (who he has just had a baby with) is not a DJ?
It is all so confusing. This is what happens with social media and celebrity gossip with these days. We know all too much about celebrities real lives and it overwhelms me with cognitive dissonance when the gap between who they say they are through their work is at such a stark contrast to their paparazzi pictures and Instagram output.
Next verse – all generic lovey dovey stuff. But, to his credit, it rhymes really well. But yet-
You know, that I don’t need no money
When your love is beside me
Mate, you’ve just spent a lot of time talking about how you enjoy money and excess. Make up yr mind! Unless, of course, the contrast is supposed to make a point. But… I doubt it.
Anyway, don’t even get me started on Quavo’s verse. Typical brilliance. I love it all. The word “gon'”. Background repetition of the last word of every line. Of course, the obligatory ‘skrrt skrrt’… One day I will do an analysis of all of Quavo’s verses in the various songs he features on. Today is not that day, but still. I can’t wait.
IN CONCLUSION, I RATE THIS SONG AS – highly confused. For a song that seems intended to be empowering, to establish Payne’s true identity post One Direction…. It really appears to have little to do with the realities of his daily life, as splashed all across the front of Dailymail.
Can’t wait to contribute more analysis of his future work to the blogosphere and totally fascinated to see if he will continue to release club bangaz like this that schizophrenically ignore the reality of his life as a father, even as his child evolves from infant to toddler.
EDIT: Just found out from Dailymail Liam will miss his first fathers day due to work commitments, which is probably the only thing that makes sense about his life when interpreted in light of the lyrical content of this song.