(Battle of the Acronyms)
Hey, Lambily! Welcome back! It's time for The Battle of the Acronyms... No, I'm not making this a thing, but it's a thing today so I'm rolling with it. Anyways, back to Mariah. 'H.A.T.E.U.' vs. 'G.T.F.O.' Why am I battling these two gems? Let's begin.
On September 29, 2009, Mariah delivered us "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel." I have to say, this is in my top 5 favorite albums, which is largely the reason why this blog is named after the masterpiece. My mom bought me this album when I was in the 6th or 7th grade. Long story short, I loved it and at the time, 'Obsessed' was my favorite song on the album.
Well, that changed in 2014. I grew up. I had been with my fair share of ass holes by then and really started to appreciate tracks like 'Candy Bling,' 'Inseparable,' and of course 'H.A.T.E.U.', deeper than I had the capacity to when I was younger, "with the purity of a child's heart before it was ever broken." It is my favorite track on this album. It's the perfect get over your ain't-shit-ass ex, but not really at the same time.
On September 13, 2018, Mariah dropped the "buzz" single 'GTFO' to kick off the grown and sexy era that was "Caution!" Can we take a minute to say Happy Anniversary to GTFO?! Anyway, 'GTFO' feels like the successor to 'H.A.T.E.U.' in my opinion. Both are solid R&B-Riah breakup anthem moments, with 'GTFO' being the more stripped-down of the two. To settle this versus, I'm going to be comparing lyrics, music/production, and vocals. Which song is superior?
Why? Storytelling elements are vivid. the subject matter matches the vulnerable tone. Throughout this song, she takes you through the emotional rollercoaster caused by a fresh heartbreak.
The lyrics communicate to the frustration you feel when you can't stop thinking about them and can't shake that annoying sense of bitter longing in a way that is not only relatable but just feels real and honest.
Why? You get whisper-Riah, with tease of belt-Riah, and of course, Whistle-Riah.
You even get at taste of her rich lower register in the pre-chorus where she sings:
"We went 'round for 'round
'Til we knocked love out
We were laying in the ring
Not making a sound"
She layers the vocals here perfectly she once said in an interview, "I sing a recurring melody in the upper register of my voice; it's not an ad-lib, but an integral part of the song's hook." The isolated vocals on this track are amazing. She transitions between her whisper voice, to chest voice, to her whistle register fluidly throughout the song.
This record gives me all the elements I look forward to in a proper Mariah song. Check out the isolated vocals and maybe you can hear for yourself what she's talking about. This is such an underrated ballad, but I digress.
I always listen to the instrumental of any Mariah song if it's available. It's a down-tempo R&B love song produced by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, who also worked on another iconic track with Mariah, "Touch My Body." When listening to the instrumental of 'H.A.T.E.U.,' the opening sequence feels like a lullaby at first.
It calmly grabs your attention to tell you that this is about to be an emotional record. I mostly enjoy the consistent bass that's accompanied by the organ arrangement softy playing in the background. It makes for a well-rounded sound that just feels good as you listen to it.
"Get the F**** Out"
Why? I like the directness in the tone and the word choice. This feels like what happened after 'H.A.T.E.U.' However, with such a direct tone, it also created a sense of simplicity, which at times can be a hit or miss for me and also make the song feel less serious.
This of course was the intention according to Mariah, it was "Just for laughs." and it shows. As a result, there are far more heavy-hitting lines in 'H.A.T.E.U.'
Why? 'GTFO' very much stays within that sultry whisper part of her voice, with a little chest voice in the chorus and a lower harmony in the background, which ultimately contributed to the simplistic nature of the song. I appreciate Whisper-Riah here. Soft and silky vocals that are easy to listen to. It contrasts with the message of the song in a way that compliments it though! Only Mariah can tell you to 'GTFO' and it sounds so pleasant!
However, It's missing the excitement that she gives us with the 'H.A.T.E.U.' vocals. There is no real climax, which we all know Mariah is good for delivering. A belt-Riah moment would have been nice to hear on this track, though I can understand why she may not have wanted to go in that direction because it wouldn't have fit the "Just for laughs" vibe the song was meant to serve but it feels like it's just a little too calm to be telling someone to 'GTFO.'
The instrumental is similar in style to 'H.A.T.E.U.' down-tempo R&B love song, and for the most part is equally as enjoyable because I'm a sucker for a slow, smooth R&B moment. But lack of a stronger bass presence makes the song feel like it's missing a heartbeat, something 'H.A.T.E.U.' has going for it. H.A.T.E.U. simply knocks and that's preference for me I guess.
I think if she would have gone with a more piano-driven ballad-style arrangement the song would have felt deeper. Check out this acoustic arrangement I found on YouTube, that completely changes how this song feels and compliments the whisper vocals on this record better. Both versions are great in their own way but had 'GTFO' went in this direction, it had the potential to feel every bit as sentimental as 'H.A.T.E.U.' But again, that was not the mood intended for this song.
Consider the first verse in GTFO:
“You took my love for granted
You left me lost and disenchanted
Bulldoze my heart as if you planned it…”
This is a strong introduction to the song. The imagery and storytelling are there. But in comparison to the first verse in HATEU, it's a little vague:
"Once upon a time
We swore not to say goodbye
Something got a hold of us
And we changed
And you sat alone in pride
And I sat at home and cried
How'd our fairy tale just end up this way?"
H.A.T.E.U. is far more detailed. As a result, this song has a more developed sense of story and sets you up to understand why the pain in this song exists. Heavy-hitters from H.A.T.E.U. aside from what is mentioned above include:
"I can't wait to hate you"
"Make you pain like I do"
"Still can't shake you off"
"And I just keep having one last thing to say"
"I can't wait to face you
Break you down so low there's no place left to go"
"And I wish I could press reset and feel that feeling again"
Honestly, the whole song is a heavy-hitter for me. Heavy-hitters from 'GTFO' aside from what was already mentioned, include:
"I looked beyond all the signs
I guess fool's love makes you blind"
Other than that, the vast majority of this song is far more playful than H.A.T.E.U. with lines like:
"(How 'bout you) take your tings and be on your merry way
(How 'bout you) fly off with the wind, bye bye, baby"
I love both of these songs, but H.A.T.E.U. is the superior song, lyrically and vocally.
This was an instant fave upon my first listen. I enjoyed everything from the instrumentation to the vocals and lyrics on a deeper level than GTFO. "I can't wait to hate you" is literally how I feel after a breakup. It gives me something to look forward to through all the pain.
That line alone opens up a can of worms and will get you in your feelings. From there, the song goes on to cut deeper as it builds to that final whistle in the climax from 4:03 - 4:08. This song always hits hard. It's a smooth R&B moment, yet impactful. It's honest and most importantly, it tells a story we can all relate to in a way that is vocally superior to GTFO.
I love 'GTFO,' but for the simple fact that it's a fun song and the directness in the tone of the lyrics. Some times you just have to be blunt and tell the MF to GTFO. However, because of the simplified vocals and playfulness in the lyrics, it doesn't quite deliver the emotional turmoil and journey that 'H.A.T.E.U.' puts you through as the breakup anthem they both are meant to be. So for this battle of the acronyms, 'H.A.T.E.U.' is the winner.
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Also, please check out my book, Manstress Diaries which includes plenty of Mariah-inspired moments that only the Lambily could truly appreciate, including chapters: "Stay the Night" and "Don't Forget About Us."
See my previous post for more information about me, this blog, my book and also peep the complete list of chapters to whet your appetite, or check out the product page. Thanks for reading! More song reviews to come soon!
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