It would be fine if CeeLo Green’s Robin Williams were simply a half-baked, derivative pop number. Unfortunately however, it’s something much more insidious than that. Although designed to be a moving paean to celebrity lives lost, the song feels more like a cheap attempt to capitalise on the goodwill we feel towards comedians and actors who have passed away too soon. In that way, as in so many others, it is a hideously tacky and cheap attempt to make a quick buck; the kind of exploitative rubbish one would expect of a musician much less interesting and talented than Green.
The lyric is particularly insulting. The expressions of grief and sadness over Williams’ untimely death are poorly written to the point where they smack of the kind of shallow epithets one would find emblazoned on a cheap motivational poster.
The tune is defined by a kind of laziness. Namedropping John Belushi and Richard Pryor makes sense in the context of the song, but a cheap and barely thought out reference to Philip Seymour Hoffman makes it seem as though Green is clutching at straws, jumping at whatever tragic death he can think of.
In the press release for the song, Green refers to the Robin Williams as a ‘homage to our humanity.’ One can only hope that the musician truly believed that this was what the song was about, and simply got lost on the way to that end goal. Otherwise, one would have to give in to that creeping insinuation; that Green has exploited tragedy to turn in the most insulting pop number of the year.