Peel the internet curtains back at Gothamist HQ, and you'll find more than a few odd traditions and obsessions lurking—some of us have Sour Power Straw addictions, some of us hoard whiskey-in-a-can, some of us watch seemingly endless loops of Heyyeyaaeyaaaeyaeyaa. And some of us blast R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" every Friday at 5 p.m. with pavlovian precision. This week marks ten years since "Ignition (Remix)" was hot and fresh out the kitchen. It's the greatest "weekend" song of all time, and there's nothing left to do on a Wednesday afternoon but bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.
It's hard to know where to start unpacking one of the greatest songs of the '00s, a universal anthem of bounce-ation. It's always remarkable to us to realize that there really is a non-remix piano-led version of "Ignition" (it appears right in front of the remix on Chocolate Factory!)—and it has much filthier lyrics. It was even an R&B single BEFORE its much better known sequel, though it didn't really crossover. The "Remix" did peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart though.
And yet, the "Remix" has lived on like universal musical wallpaper, in the background of a million bodgas, limos, clubs, and hotels—a genre-defying modern crowd pleaser, up there with Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood," Outkast's "Hey Ya!," Beyonce's "Single Ladies," and Daft Punk's "One More Time." A long time before cancelled cruises, "intimate nights" at strip clubs, and Broadway plays, there were just transcendent singles like this. Oh, and peeing allegations.
And the best part is that it's an unabashedly joyous song whose silly lyrics are deeply self-referential without lapsing into self-parody (or preciousness). On the one hand, it has tons of playful onomatopoeia ("So baby gimme that toot toot /Lemme give you that beep beep;" "Cris-tal poppin'"). Then there's the spoken word intro ("Go head' on and break em off wit a lil' preview of the remix..."), the pre-chorus which situates Kelly in a car overhearing the song ("Bouncin on 24's /While they say on the radio"), and then the mighty chorus hook: "It's the remix to Ignition/hot and fresh out the kitchen."
As for the bubbly music underneath, Matthew Perpetua said it best: "Like the best Prince songs, it has an ability to make you feel vicariously smooth and sexy, even if you are not a particularly smooth or sexy person." Or as Pitchfork put it when it named the song its 19th favorite track of the 2000s: "You have to work very hard indeed to sound this casual. "Ignition (Remix)" is a lazy, buzzed collage of a night on the town put together with a craftsman's eye."
There's no doubt that "Ignition (Remix)" is R. Kelly's crowning masterpiece, a single distillation of everything he does well, his "Stairway to Heaven"—which we guess means, following this poor metaphor to its logical conclusion, that "Trapped In The Closet" is like a never-ending "D'yer Mak'er" (or something). We don't know how many times a person should bounce per day, but we do know that "Ignition (Remix)" inspired one of the greatest song parodies of all time: Dave Chappelle's "(I Wanna) Pee On You" and its followup, "Piss On You (Remix)."