[The entirety of this post should be read with periodic “Uh, uh” and “ha-ha, ha-ha”s interjected between sentences, preferably out loud, by you, in a manner implying maximum swagger.]
As the earth continues to rotate on its axis, and the planets spin ever on around the sun, so too do aging global superstars swirl onward around the zeitgeist, convening meetings with their teams in order to find some way in, some pop-culture asteroid to knock their Q Score out of its routine orbit and send it hurtling back toward the white-hot center of societal dominance they once commanded. Many will do this by attempting carefully planned-out “comeback” campaigns, often attached to bold new projects designed to showcase their artistic growth, cultural cache, and of-the-moment relevance.
Or, if you’re Will Smith, you send DJ Jazzy Jeff to scavenge through Pitbull’s trash until he finds a discarded EDM track, and then you write a song set to it.
“I wanted to make a record that reminded each and every one of y’all to let your light shine,” Smith announces at the beginning of this video, an inspirational platitude that he immediately renders literal by pointedly informing the crowd that no, seriously, hold up your phones and activate the flashlight, because the Fresh Prince is filming a video here. And thus begins “Get Lit (Live),” a thunderingly generic EDM track that only stands out for two reasons:
1. God bless him, DJ Jazzy Jeff is still throwing in the occasional record scratch between bass drops
2. It’s international superstar (and beloved American treasure) Will Smith singing.
And sing he does, to the immediate regret of everyone within earshot. The song itself is deeply forgettable, the kind of thing LMFAO would’ve heard and thought, “Eesh, I dunno, do you have anything more cerebral?” Will Smith is almost 50 years old at this point, and while we certainly don’t want to lob any ageist comments in his direction, there is something a bit weird about an unbelievably famous man who long ago gave up the need to craft pop hits suddenly attempting to hop on an already-tired trend. It’s not as desperate as MC Hammer suddenly going gangster, or as out of left field as Bob Dylan rapping with Kurtis Blow, but it’s pretty close to your dad turning up “Look What You Made Made Do” and doing the Dougie in front of your friends at your bar mitzvah.
You give him points for trying, but really, everyone just wants to post a few Instagram pics and then go home. Noisey calls it the official arrival of Will Smith’s midlife crisis, which is a reasonable suspicion, but we’re going to give Smith the benefit of the doubt and just chalk it up to the same bad-decision process he’s been doing for years now. After Earth, Winter’s Tale, Collateral Beauty: These are the movie roles of a man ready to drop a particularly ill-conceived needle.