If “Teenage Dream” is sitting in the passenger seat of the car staring at his jawline with a quiet smile, “Super Bass” is zooming down the highway in your pink Aventador, driving and cackling as your man looks at you. There are love songs about the quiet and casual moments. There are love songs about the explosive and heartwrenching moments. And there are love songs like “Super Bass.” It is anything but quiet, but too light to be that punch to a gut. It’s about flying rather than floating, about a heartbeat that skips rather than pounds. Your heartbeat is running away because he is charmed by your laugh, your confidence, your attitude, your everything. “Super Bass” is about leaping off a cliff but making that decision to leap yourself. “Super Bass” is about losing control after making the decision to fall deeply.
Compared to “Monster,” few words have been written about “Super Bass.” It’s silly: “Super Bass” is the most Nicki Minaj track that I can think of on a lot of levels. Popularity wise, “Anaconda” may have charted higher, but “Super Bass” went 8x platinum. (If you’re wondering what that means, by comparison, “Call Me Maybe” also went 8x platinum and “Fancy” has gone 4x platinum so far.) It had longevity, mass and international appeal, and a slew of memes involving cute kids rapping on Ellen. “Super Bass” is the promise of Nicki Minaj as a global pop star fulfilled.
Certifications, popularity, and sales aside, it’s also the quintessential Nicki Minaj track because literally no one else could sound like this. “Super Bass” may not be your favorite Nicki Minaj song or your favorite version of Nicki Minaj, but it’s a perfect pop song and it’s a pop song that only Nicki Minaj could make. Sure, she raps and she sings, but this is so full of Nicki Minaj because of the details. The way that her voice drops when she says “excuse me, you’re a hell of a guy!” The sighing relatability of “You know I really got a thing for American guys!” The utter swagger of “Somebody please tell him who the eff I is!” And that way that final “bass” in the bridge zooms off for the very last time! “Super Bass” is so fucking Nicki.
When Roman Reloaded came out, I complained that the record didn’t fulfill the promise of “Super Bass.” What I meant is that “Super Bass” is so tough, so hard, and so unapologetically feminine. If we talk about how Nicki Minaj actively pushes outward on the boundaries of hip-hop, we can’t not talk about “Super Bass,” which is still, the perfect blend of tough raps and the girliest girl. Nicki Minaj wants you to know that you can be tough and smart and strong and liking pink does not negate any of that. Whereas Roman Reloaded is, on surface level, split into almost distinct halves of rap and pop, masculine and feminine, “Super Bass” is a perfect three and a half minute blend of both.
Anyone who doesn’t put it in their top 5 Nicki Minaj songs is either lying to you or to themselves.