So, Liam Payne and Jason Derulo have gone up against one another in a “rap battle” in which the objectively worst member of One Direction emerged victorious. I’m not sure what else to tell you. Many strange cartoon voices coming from both sides of the ring, Jason Derulo delivers some “lines” but immediately ruins them by mincing about like Mac in “The Nightman Cometh,” Liam Payne actually makes an Anchorman reference in the year 2017.
It shouldn’t exist, and yet somehow it does. It is, simply: bad. So bad, in fact, that we can’t in all good consciousness let it slide. Like the United Nations of Bad Things Happening In Music, I’m afraid we have no other choice but to hold an official Noisey roundtable to unpack in excruciating detail all the ways in which it is insufferable.
First, let us observe:
JASON ROUND #1:
Ryan: Why does this show exist?
Tshepo: I genuinely did not know this was a show. I would, however, like to know who every single person in this crowd is, so I could look them dead in the eyes and ask how it felt to pretend Jason’s Liam Hemsworth gag was worth that “ohhhh.” The fun thing about this is that it taught me Jason released a song called “Swalla,” which he handily plugs at the end of this “round.”
Emma: This feels like someone has based a play on my high school the year 8 Mile was released, prompting boys called “Nick” and “Gareth” to square up to each other on the playground and do things like point at the physics teacher who famously wore a toupee but refused to admit it. “That’s you that is,” Nick would go. And Gareth would go, “YEAH? THAT’S NOT WHAT YOUR MUM SAID LAST NIGHT”. And everyone else would go “OOOHHHHHHHH!” And I would stand there wishing I was dead.
LIAM ROUND #1:
Ryan: At this point I still don’t really have any actual words, so I’m just going to plagiarize one of our VICE colleagues and place this here:
Lauren: As a person from the West Midlands like Liam Payne, I feel as though I understand him on a psychic level you can only access if you call your mum “mom” and ate frightening, orange chips as a child. This means I understand the deep core of self-hatred which lies at the very heart of Liam Payne. The grey nothingness wrought by a childhood spent in Wolver-fucking-hampton with a once yearly trip to Cadbury World; the shame of having an accent which is like if someone put your speech in slow motion while the rest of you moves at normal speed. Obviously, that deep indignity is why Payno flirts with an American twang here (though not before using his ordinary voice, and then stopping because he has quickly and correctly identified that he sounds like a children’s party entertainer from Solihull), because anything is better than resembling Ozzy Osbourne trying to rap. This much I know. These things I can explain. The rest of it however… well the rest of it is something else entirely.
Tshepo: “Well, I mean, what-wha-wha-what we gonna do about that Josh?” Liam Payne asks the beatboxer, tripping over his words before he’s even begun his ‘battle’ bars. I think we have to give Liam credit here for fitting exactly eight words in four bars, plodding along like a 1992 educational video on saying no to drugs that would’ve been fronted by a white guy in a sideways cap doing mock gang signals with his hands. I hate this.
Emma: Which level of hell is Liam Payne opening his ‘roast’ of Jason Derulo with the noises “HOAAAAYYY! YES! YES! YES!” like H P Baxxter from Scooter, or your Christmas-pissed dad putting his all into a Will Smith song on Karaoke Revolution.
JASON ROUND #2:
Ryan: Remember being a child and strolling around a toy store, looking for whichever talking animatronic toy had a "press here to test me" button then repeatedly ramming as many of them as possible and all at once to create a cacophony of noise—an entire shelf of Buzz Lightyears having a mini-stroke? Jason's "Give me something CRAZYbro—I WANT SOME CRAZY BRO" is kind of like that, except he's just the one toy and actually a malfunctioning 28-year-old who isn't even famous enough to have his own action figure. And then he raps :(
Lauren: Jason Derulo is not a bad rapper; he is certainly a much better rapper than Liam Payne, but that is not saying very much, as it would be true of a dog, or a saucepan. He is, however, responsible for the single worst moment in what is, in all, a very harrowing video. His line “You take shirtless selfies like you a crown, but I’m the only one who should be strippin’ it down,” unfortunately provokes Payne into lifting up his shirt. What results is like if the cultural concept of The Gym came to life and animated the body of an absolute div, Armani boxers above the jeans and all. Horrifying.
Emma: Very fond of the bit where Jason Derulo forgets where he is and slips into audition mode for the part of Macavity in Cats.
Tshepo: Ah yes, of course: this is where the "your mum" jokes begin.
LIAM ROUND #2
Tshepo: I’m sorry but “I GOT THAT ONE D THAT WILL MAKE YOUR LADY GO CRAZY” delivered right after a your mom joke has ended me, I am gone, this is so uncomfortable.
Emma: Feeling nostalgic for the days of 'Liam Round #1' when he was just Your Dad's New Gf's Perturbed Son whose idea of a savage bodying was calling Jason Derulo "a weekday."
Lauren: Burn it. Burn it until it is ashes, removed from the annals of human history. This is the worst of us; both a reminder of how low humanity has sunk and a stark warning that we may well still have far more sordid depths to plummet. If Liam Payne is allowed to win ‘rap battles,’ and release songs called things like “Strip That Down” and “Bedroom Floor” (which, by the way, have the cheek to insinuate that his idea of a good time isn’t just a korma, a Cobra, and seven minutes of missionary???), and indeed have a career in music at all, we are fucking doomed. I am going, now, to sage my eyes and cleanse them of all the evil they have seen.
Ryan: The human race has created many a form of mild torture – hanging socks on a clothing line, mis-sold PPI, diarrhoea, sunburn, celebrity workout DVDs, children. Watching Liam Payne and Jason Derulo do a rap battle isn’t really comparable with these things – it’s not terrible, it’s also not good, it’s just something there that’s in the ether between this life and the next: taking up space in the great big cloud in the sky among all the other mildly interesting things like adverts for dog food or big budget adverts by Lloyds TSB and thankfully now I’ve completed this sentence it shall never be thought about again.