Going through my mental checklist of perfect songs about perfection, it was no surprise that so many of them were hiphop or R&B. Unlike rock's moping demigods, hiphop and R&B stars have the guts to want perfection, the pro-activeness to go looking for it, and the confidence to feel okay once they've found it--and the great ones always do.
1. "It was a Good Day," Ice Cube
Cube's perfect day starts off happy, ends happy, and he gets fucked, faded, and fed in the meantime. He even sees the lights of the Goodyear Blimp and--in classic American blues mythos braggadocio--they read, "Ice Cube's a pimp." Ice Cube is Odysseus with a jimmy that runs deep and full on cop-invisibility.
2. "Can't Get You Outta My Head," Kylie Minogue
Here, Kylie expresses perfect puppy love--nothing but innocent pre-teen crushing. It is almost fairy tale-ic in its perfection, and the backing track sounds ethereal as a ring-tone.
3. "Can't Help Falling in Love," Elvis Presley
When Elvis sang this song, he was perfect. His hair, his shoes, his cuff-lengths, his PR, his voice. And, in "Can't Help," so is his lover--his ideal personification of feminine perfection.
4. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," Gayla Peevey Little Gayla wants a hippo so bad it hurts. Even though mom says it'll eat her, she knows better: "Teacher says a hippo is a vegetarian." Yes! The perfect Christmas present.
5. "A Better Son/Daughter," Rilo Kiley
Rilo's Jenny Lewis is singing about creating the ideal Jenny. And even though the lyrics run a little insider-y, it's easy to glean empowerment from her advice. This one doesn't get enough radio play, but if it did, there would be far more positive, tough, righteous children around.
6. "U Can't Touch This," MC Hammer
This is deluded, hubris-racked perfection, but perfection nonetheless. It is the perfection of self-confidence. Though the music is dated, when you were 12, this shit knocked your Hawaiian-print Keds off. Hammer made the typewriter dance and ridiculous pants seem cool because he believed they were.
7. "Gigolo," Nick Cannon
What's perfection for Mr. Cannon? Gigolo life, for reals. Spending lots of dough, going home with the groupies. Playersville as utopia. Mindlessly stupid, but perfect--a dicey contradiction.
8. "Beautiful World," Devo
An ironic tale of perfection. Devo talks about the gloss they see around them, and how it leaves a knot in their collective plasticized gut. The fruit of their frustration is their greatest song ever. Hands down.
9. "Tiny Dancer," Elton John
The ultimate '70s woman. Pretty eyes. Pirate smile. She's a seamstress for the band. Bernie and Elton's love letter to these tough, capable (albeit unappreciated) ladies.
10. "Family Affair," Mary J. Blige
Mary lays it bare, a perfect new life. Of course that's a life sans drama or hateration--just crunked-to-the rafters dancing, love, and music that lifts your heart like a gospel choir running on wild faith and rapturous inspiration. This is not the ragged Mary waking up as the morning light casts nightmarish shadows on her walls and her coke hangover makes her wanna hack it all up. This is happy Mary, pretty Mary, Mary in love and possessing a supernaturally "on" voice. Perfection incarnate.