Jake Gyllenhaal Is Right About Sean Paul and if You Disagree You’re a Chump
Have you seen this delightful video of Jake Gyllenhaal expressing his enthusiasm for the music of Sean Paul during a BBC Radio 1 interview? If not, you should probably give it a look before we go any further.
Gyllenhaal, and his Spider-Man: Far From Home co-star Tom Holland, were participating in a segment on host Greg James’s show called “Unpopular Opinions,” in which listeners call in to submit their hot takes and guests either roast them or tell them they agree. After a few boring questions about selfies and British versus American nomenclature for various daily meals, listener Brandon posited, somewhat out of the blue, that “Sean Paul is massively overrated.” Gyllenhaal responded by making a funny face, telling James to hang up on the guy, and expounding, in extremely animated and charismatic fashion, on Paul’s many virtues: “he’s a genius,” “there’s not a moment he comes on the radio, where you’re not like, c’mon,” “he’s like, brrap bap bap!,” “he does so much great stuff.”
You will have one of two responses to this video. Either you’ll find something charmingly idiosyncratic and baffling about Jake Gyllenhaal’s deep love for this dancehall-pop artist and strangely longstanding fixture of the American radio airwaves, or you will recognize a deep truth in his outburst, a shared secret knowledge, a gateway to our truest humanity, a precious talisman passed from one Dutty Rocker to another. Either you’ll laugh at Jake Gyllenhaal, or you’ll recognize that he is correct: Sean Paul is responsible for some of the greatest music you’ve ever heard in your life.
“Gimme the Light“? C’mon! “Baby Boy“? Forget about it! “Get Busy?” Do we even have to discuss this? “Like Glue“? I am weeping tears of joy! “Temperature”? The dancefloor has become a portal to another dimension where earthly concerns dissipate like weed smoke and love reigns eternally supreme!
If you, like this writer, are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years old, Paul’s string of hits in the early 2000s probably soundtracked all sorts of awkward grinding at school dances and other fitful early attempts at sexuality. Maybe you still think of them this way: nostalgic, kitschy, a little embarrassing. Or maybe at some point you came around, and realized that the feelings of happiness they arouse in you run deeper than simple sense-memory associations. For me, it happened at around the time of Paul’s guest appearance on Enrique Iglesias’s “Bailando” in 2014, which marked a surprise return to the airwaves, one that felt like the resurrection of a savior we didn’t deserve. “Bailando” itself is likeable enough, but Paul’s spirited interjections—Enrique! Sing to them!—take it to another level. To quote Gyllenhaal: “Sean Paul makes every song better…There’s not a song he’s on, a remix he’s on, that isn’t good.”
James closes the interview by asking Gyllenhaal for his favorite Sean Paul sing, and his choice is a little surprising: the remix to Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” another of the scattered hit guest appearances that have defined his 2010s second act. “Cheap Thrills” is the sort of song that’s been played in so many pharmacies and 7-Elevens since its release that it’s almost impossible to assess objectively, but it’s true that the version with Paul is superior. If the original comes on the radio, I’m likely to change the station, but as soon as I hear Sean Paul announce his presence on the remix—Sia!—I’m in for the long haul. This seems to be what Gyllenhaal is responding to: Paul’s ability to make unremarkable environs briefly transcendent by the simple fact of his presence.
Brandon, if you can make it through the below song without smiling, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not too late to be converted.