Wa$$up walks the fine line between fully conceived brand and gimmick. If Ke$ha were to split into seven Korean idols and then trained in the art of twerking, it would come as close to capturing Wa$$up as anything else on this planet. With “FIRE”, a song ostensibly meant to promote the World Cup but one that ends up being a much more effective promotion of midriffs and knee high socks, Wa$$up delivers a music video that is aggressively cheap and blatantly sexual and the group blissfully gives zero cares about either of those facts. It’s cheeky (in more than one way) and fun.
“FIRE” is a sprint. The part hip-hop, part reggae beat relies heavily on percussion and grungy synths to get by. The effect gives “FIRE” an unfinished polish, a theme which is smartly capitalized on. Wa$$up is auto-tuned to death which adds a whole other layer of purposeful shoddiness to the beat. The chats of “Yeah-eh-eh-ee-yeah” are legitimately catchy and Wa$$up breathlessly keeps pace with the increasingly frenetic tempo. Everything sounds like it’s on the precipice of spinning out of control which is surprising given the rather straightforward nature of the production. But then again, barely controlled chaos is a pretty apt description of Wa$$up.
The video is unsubtle to say the least but subtlety is anathema to Wa$$up much like black people are anathema to Justin Bieber, so it works. The video is framed as Wa$$up preparing for a soccer (or “football” for those that don’t recognize America’s greatest sport) match but it is more or less an excuse to get Wa$$up in some knee-high socks and booty shorts and have the group
bend over a lot do plenty of stretching. The premise is so thin that Wa$$up can’t even be bothered to come up with even teams for their game (Team Fire4Life). The set isn’t so much a set as it is a green screen with some early nineties zubaz print loudly plastered on it. The green screen is so ubiquitous that Wa$$up looks like they’re floating on fields of color most of the time. The direction and editing add all it can to the tackiness. Large bolded text is abused with perfectly executed obnoxiousness (ARE YOU READY!!!!) to help guide the three amoebas who may have a hard time following what is going on in “FIRE”. The camera doesn’t really pan so much as it just cuts, and zooms in and out at random intervals, much as if a monkey had accidentally gotten ahold of the “zoom” button on the one working camera that Wa$$up had and the group just decided to go with it. It’s disorienting, a little sickening and purposefully aggravating but the lack of fucks displayed here is so enormous that it’s subversively admirable.
Wa$$up knows how to sell trash well. The group twerks, bends and flaunts about with a determination that borders on pathological. Importantly, Wa$$up is unapologetic. Outfits that stretch the very definition of athletic apparel, dance moves that are designed to be gawked over rather than imitated and members that attack sexy with all the fervor of a Pentecostal church service. The appeal is a very base one to say the least but good lord do Nari, Dain and the rest of Wa$$up (but especially Nari) hit it.
If a bar for artistic taste exists, then Wa$$up doesn’t ignore or trip over it; they break it between their thighs and use the remains as weapons. They are the Mountain destroying the Red Viper of analytic thought.
“FIRE” is tacky but Wa$$up doesn’t hide from the cheapness of their World Cup promo/song and it ends up being perverse fun. Wa$$up knows exactly what it aims to accomplish and they succeed as well as Nari looks in dem shorts. It’s hard to be a joke when one shows how clearly they’re in on it.