arts

COLUMN: Pitbull's 'International Love' is a lie



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Pitbull smiles at the camera on radio row for Super Bowl LIV on Jan. 31 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami. Tribune News Service

As the world around me becomes bleaker I've been using old pop songs to escape. But sometimes it just makes things worse.

There are glaring issues with 2012's “International Love” by Pitbull and Chris Brown. Obviously, on the surface, a problem is that Chris Brown is featured on the track. That is a given. But lurking beneath the flexes and autotuned histrionics are numerous blemishes. 

First, the chorus doesn’t mention a single international city. New York City, Los Angeles and Miami are all domestic. Why is the song called “International Love” if the chorus is all about American cities? 

“But Kevin,” you’re probably saying to yourself. “Pitbull raps about other countries. He talks about all the women he’s slept with from each nation.” Shut up. No one knows any of the words to the verses of this song. If you put a gun to my head and told me to recite a couple bars, I would tell you to shoot me. 

Plus, I don’t believe Pitbull. Romania? Sure, OK, yeah. The song didn’t receive any certifications in Romania. It went triple platinum in Canada, though, which is weird to me. 

“I don’t play football, but I’ve touched down everywhere. Everywhere? Everywhere.”

Yeah, OK, Pitbull. 

“I don’t play baseball, but I’ve hit a home run everywhere. Everywhere? Everywhere.”

I doubt the veracity of these claims.

This song shouldn’t be called “International Love” because it’s not about love. It’s about sex. Lust and love are not synonymous. Pit thinks a woman telling him “Pit, you can have me and my sister” constitutes love. It doesn’t. Pit may think these women love him, but they don’t. They don’t know him.

“There’s not a place that your love don’t affect me, baby. So don’t ever change.” He's singing to the audience, here, thanking them for their love. This isn’t love, though. There is nothing loving or nurturing about any pop star’s relationship with their fans. It's not loving the person, it's loving what they do for you.

The flexes in this track are representative of another problem in pop music.

The song was written by six people. I’m beginning to think countries like Romania, Lebanon and Greece were chosen specifically to fit a rhyme scheme. How much truth is there in the world? Can we trust anyone if we can’t trust Mr. Worldwide?

As a kid I believed everything. There was no way it couldn’t be true. Pitbull touched down everywhere (Everywhere? Everywhere). Flexing wasn’t yet a part of my vernacular. Hyperbole was just something we talked about in English class. Everything was clearly delineated.

“International Love” and other pop music of the early '10s sold us a lifestyle we’ll never live. Sometimes I wish people would stop selling us anything.

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