Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
This is the radio-friendly version of Cee-Lo Green's expletive-laden viral hit, "F--k You." In the original rendition of the song about being jilted for a Ferrari-driving slickster, Cee-Lo drops 16 f-bombs in just 3 1/2 minutes.
You may have thought the inspiration for this song was a heartbreaking lady whom upset "The Lady Killer." However, Green disclosed the hit came about as a result of creative differences with his label, Elektra Records. "I did 'F--- You' to be an a--hole, to be spiteful toward the label," he said. "Because it had taken about three years to do The Lady Killer, and I just felt that after recording almost 70 songs I could not please them."
The song features Green's Elektra labelmate Bruno Mars. It originated during a session in L.A. with Mars and Phil Lawrence of the production team the Smeezingtons. The pair played to Cee-Lo a rough demo of a song they weren't sure was worth completing. "When Bruno first sung 'F—- You' to me, they were still a bit indecisive on whether or not it could work at all," Green told Entertainment Weekly."I was like, 'I like it. Let's record it.'" The trio then completed the song with Cee Lo contributing many of the verse lyrics.
Cee-Lo told Entertainment Weekly that the lyrics about a gold-digging ex aren't strictly autobiographical. "I mean, it's based on something true… As far as me personally, it's not a current event. It's a figurative account. It's not completely fictitious, though."
Cee-Lo first appeared on the music scene in 1995 with the Southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob. He is best-known as one-half of the duo Gnarls Barkley, who had a worldwide hit with "Crazy
The video broke the two million view mark on YouTube within one week of its release but also received criticism for the foul language used by Cee-Lo. The musician claimed rather loftily in an interview that it's actually a work of art. "What I've tried to accomplish, like, is making art products ... so I still believe that (the song) can be classified as art because it's an original piece and the edge and alternative is there, and the integrity is intact," he said.
Cee-Lo added that he was trying to elevate music with the song, something he feels the music industry does not do enough. "The system does not, you know, advocate art, so to speak, but it does package and promote products and product placement, and there's a definitive difference between the two, art and product," he said. "I have yet to sit down and try to write something for the sake of radio. I just never done it, not consciously."
The Gnarls Barkley star admitted the revamped version with milder lyrics wasn't part of the initial plan. "It wasn't like we were looking for it to be a radio hit of some sort. It was only until a short time after that we considered doing a clean version just in case."
Cee-Lo told NME about the song: "It's a fictitious account of love lost. But it's a trial that we've all been through some time or another, and I think that's why people can relate to it."
The official music video was released on September 1, 2010. It features grade school and high school versions of Green getting their heart broken by the girls they love. The singer told Billboard magazine that while he wasn't directly in charge of casting, he had a large part in deciding who got the role. "I [did] have a final say in who I would think best represent me. I picked quite a few of the people that you see." he said.
The song topped the charts in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and was a top ten hit in many other territories including Australia, Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, and Sweden.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow performed this song on "The Substitute" episode of Glee
, in which she plays a substitute teacher who Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) falls for. The Glee
version debuted at #11 on the Hot 100 marking Paltrow's first entry on the chart. Can you name the two previous other songs the actress has contributed vocals to, which have graced other Billboard charts
1. Her Huey Lewis duet "Cruisin' " topped Adult Contemporary the week of December 16, 2000.
2. Simultaneously with her success with this song, Paltrow also charted on Country Songs with "Country Strong," the title track from the 2010 film in which she co-starred.
Some Gwyneth aficionados might have come up with "It's Only Love
," a track from Sheryl Crow's 2002 album, C'mon C'mon
. However, this never featured on any Billboard
The sweary version was named by Spin magazine as their Best Song of 2010.
Bruno Mars explained to Rolling Stone that when he came up with the piano riff, he thought it was an old soul riff from the '60s or '70s. Said Mars, "I guess I'd know by now if it wasn't original. When Cee-Lo got in there and sang, we all got the chills."
In what looked a lot like Elton John's appearance on The Muppet Show in 1977, Cee-Lo performed this song at the Grammy Awards in 2011 dressed in feathers and backed by a band of puppets. The song became a duet when Gwyneth Paltrow joined in, eventually ending up on top of Cee-Lo's piano. The song was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and won for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
When the Glee version debuted at #31 in the UK on the day of the 2011 Oscar ceremony, Gwyneth Paltrow became the sixth Academy Award winner for Best Actress to also make that country's singles chart, following Liza Minnelli, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet.
Bruno Mars recalled to Q magazine: "For years I'd been saying, 'I wanna work with Cee lo Green.' We came up with the title and sung the chorus for him. We were a little nervous about it cos we didn't want it to be like a skit. He said, 'That's incredible, let's go.' We wrote it in two hours."
Divided Souls: Musical Alter Egos
Long before Eminem, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj created alternate personas, David Bowie, Bono, Joni Mitchell and even Hank Williams took on characters.
Little Big Town
"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."
The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal.