Nicki Minaj isn’t crazy. The exorcism-themed debut of her new song “Roman Holiday” at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night was gleefully nonsensical, sure, and tinged with lunacy. But it also simultaneously reinforced the Harajuku Barbie’s credibility as an uncompromisingly weird MC, presented her as a pop star weird enough to steal the spotlight from Lady Gaga, and established her as a cultural force shameless enough to provoke the usual leave-us-alone-with-our-altar-boys grumbling from the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue. Her other new songs from the past couple of days get right back to business.
Minaj’s newly unveiled “Starships,” the latest track to emerge from her forthcoming sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (currently set for April 3), points its dubstep drops at a different marketing segment. The choppy guitar riff recalls Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” but this song has Skrillex-style wub-wubs and a so-high-we’re-in-the-stars theme that echoes Young Money boss Lil Wayne’s universe-eating mixtape run five whole years ago. Where “Super Bass” stands alone, this reportedly Red One-produced musical Patron commercial is only a few cuts above the dreck Karmin brought to Saturday Night Live. Still, it does give Minaj a chance to spit, “Fuck who you want / And fuck you who you like,” which we hope makes Bill Donohue’s head spin while spewing green vomit.
A third song surfacing from Minaj in recent days, “Young Forever,” polishes off her rabid eccentricities still further to please yet another potential target audience. As fantastic as the “Right Thru Me” singer’s pop ballads can be, and for as much as the severely macho community of online rap nerds tends to underrate them, this one’s a bit on the bland. We sort of hope it’s not intended for Roman Reloaded.
Unlike the original Pink Friday‘s similarly soft “Your Love,” this one lacks any elements as memorable or distinctive as that song’s Annie Lennox sample and weird “geisha”/”Samurai” imagery. This time we basically just get Nicki singing a generic love song, again amid occasional dubstep drops, her charismatic voice the only element carrying a song that awkwardly equates eternal romance with eternal youth. A gray hair or two? Oh noes!!! Valentine’s Day is ruined! (Bring on the bitter sogns!)