I must be some kind of clairvoyant. Last week, I mused about whether or not a new chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100 would surface considering that both Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars both respectively hit that spot after Ed Sheeran's seemingly endless dominance of the top spot. And now, another song has taken that spot! More impressively, it's a debut at the the top spot. Too bad the song pretty much sucks.
"I'm the One" is the new song by DJ Khaled, and it's a small miracle that Khaled is still releasing new music. He's become more of a celebrity these days, showing up in TurboTax commercials and what not. Perhaps his biggest impact in the music world is crafting the titanium-grade anthem "All I Do Is Win", which got further immortalized when Emma Stone wiped the floor with Jimmy Fallon during one of his patented "Lip Sync Battles". This time, instead of T-Pain and others, he's brought in a whole crew of friends to buoy the song, that crew being Justin Bieber, a relatively new talent named Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne. I'm still trying to figure out what they're doing here.
The song is really nothing special, save for maybe the somewhat endearing chorus sung by Bieber. These "getting it on with women" lyrics need to stop. Even "Bad and Boujee" had some elevation because they were bragging about making it to the top (another tired hip hop concept but still), and Migos and Lil Uzi Vert had a compelling flow that masked the lyrical deficiencies and music video cliches. "I'm the One" has an even worse video, with everyone partying at Khaled's giant mansion while women in bikinis are to be ogled at. If the lyrics let everyone down, Quavo and Lil Wayne also have their tracks shamelessly Auto-Tuned, and not even in an inventive way. It make you wonder what year Khaled thinks he's in.
If there's one saving grace to the song, it's Bieber, unlikely as that sounds. The truth of the matter is that Bieber has somehow evolved as a pop star. That doesn't mean he's stopped being problematic, not by a long shot. However, he's singing better than ever, with songs that are actually high-level material. He still is capable of that pop star plead that you hear in other stars like Shawn Mendes, but his default setting now is a soft, breathy stream with some rasp in it. If he stops being a jerk, apologizes for the stunts he's pulled in the past (saying "Fuck Bill Clinton" shouldn't have been one of them, but we'll take apologizing for peeing in a bucket), and devote himself to rehabilitating his image in the same manner as his music, he might actually earn the respect he clearly wants to have. Too bad this song won't get him that anytime soon.
Don't get me wrong. Having a new No. 1 is good for breaking up the monotony. The fact that Khaled is the child of Palestinian immigrants and a Muslim is a perfect rallying cry for those still burning in justice-filled rage at the Trump era. However, despite all of Khaled's charisma, it would do everyone better to have songs that backed up his huge popularity. "I'm the One" is pretty lousy, but if it continues his winning streak, maybe we'll see a No. 1 that's worthy of his talents.