Okay, so some context: The Ghostbusters remake, out July 15 and starring four very funny women in the place of the original's four funny men, has seemingly been plagued by controversy from the get-go. Some of this controversy is extremely stupid: A real contingent of men are super mad that the main characters are no longer men.
Some of it is less stupid: After the first trailer was released, it was difficult to ignore the fact that, out of the four Ghostbuster characters, the three white ones are apparently scientists -- whereas the character played by Leslie Jones, the only black Ghostbuster, is a "sassy" working-class woman with a job at the MTA.
With three weeks left before the movie hits theaters, however, Ghostbusters has since outdone itself. "Ghostbusters (I'm Not Afraid)" is now officially The Worst Thing About Ghostbusters. It might even be the worst thing about official motion picture soundtracks, which is really saying something, considering. Gone are the simple, cheesy, Huey Lewis-shaped synth notes of our youth, and in their place is something that sounds a bit like robots trying to recreate '80s music in a stark underground torture chamber. Even if the schlocky, over-the-top guitar and distorted vocals are supposed to be a nod to the decade from whence the original tune came, calling this cheap-sounding remake an homage to Ray Parker Jr.'s Academy Award-nominated original is like calling Snapchat's 4/20 blackface filter a touching and well-executed tribute to Bob Marley.
Of course, I expected as much from Fall Out Boy. We all expected as much from Fall Out Boy! The best thing Fall Out Boy has ever done is an 11-year-old chewed-up Laffy Taffy gob of a song that should only ever be consumed alongside this YouTube video.
But Missy? Missy. Missy Elliott, if you're a member of the unlucky quadrant of society who only learned about Missy Elliott when she handily upstaged Katy Perry during the latter's Super Bowl Halftime Show, is more than a legend. She's a queen, and she can do whatever she wants. She's been sick in recent years, so she was out of the spotlight for a bit, but she also gave a presentation with Michelle Obama and Queen Latifah at this year's SXSW, in a great example of shine theory at work. She's still among the most innovative and talented rappers alive, and -- you know what? I'm getting too emotional. MISSY BREAK.
Here's the thing: The studio executives tasked with selling a movie whose driving premise is bankable nostalgia know exactly how I feel about Missy Elliott. They did their research. Combining Missy Elliott and Fall Out Boy with Ghostbusters as a branding strategy is essentially jolting a BuzzFeed listicle of Things Only Kids Born In the '80s Will Understand with a taser until it springs to cinematic life, a lumbering, self-aware marketing Frankenstein that feeds on the dollars of #Millennials and reeks of summertime sadness. So it makes sense that calling this track "forced" is perhaps the understatement of the year. None of the parties involved sound even remotely like they want to be here -- and who can blame them?
All of which is to say, Missy: You're better than this. Making a terrible song with Fall Out Boy for a soundtrack for the remake of a blockbuster is a demonstration of the opposite of shine theory. You now have the scent of Fall Out Boy all over you, and I'll get past that, but it's going to be a slow and difficult process. Which hurts, because Missy: You didn't have to do this. You don't have to do this. Please don't do it again.
But since you did, I hope you did it for a really nice paycheck.
[Ed. note: I could not actually make it all the way through "Ghostbusters (I'm Not Afraid)," and chose instead just to watch more old-school Missy Elliott videos (see below). If the last 45 seconds of said theme song somehow redeem the entire thing, someone please let me know.]