I don’t speak Spanish, but when my daughter mentioned how cold she was in the middle of a particularly cold British winter, and that she’d like to be somewhere like Miami instead, she was impressed when I said “bienvenidos a Miami” to her.
Unlike me, she does speak Spanish, and apparently I got the pronunciation just right… which was as much of a surprise to me as it was to her.
I’m not claiming that Will Smith’s “Miami” is the most intellectual or technically complex song ever written. But it’s a very joyful song and always puts a smile on my face when it comes on the radio… not that this happens very often these days…
When I looked it up, I was a little put out that “Miami” was riding high in the charts 20 years ago. It doesn’t seem nearly that long.
But I also had a slightly puerile chuckle when I remembered that “Miami” came from Will Smith’s album “Big Willie Style” (that’s apparently much funnier in the UK than it is overseas…).
The late 1990s were something of a high point in Will Smith’s pop career. You might argue that his theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was more the zenith of his pop career, or the theme to Men In Black, perhaps.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those songs. They’re both good. But neither is as much out-and-out fun as “Miami”…
Here I am in the place where I come let go
Miami the base and the sunset low
Every day like a mardi gras everybody party all day
No work all play okay
If that’s not an invitation to a party, I don’t know what is…
Of course it helped that the video for “Miami” featured cloudless skies, attractive people and convertibles cruising slowly down wide, palm-fringed boulevards. But “Miami” creates a chilled-out party vibe in a pretty impressive way.
It also leverages Will Smith’s personality really well. Not so much the sassy Fresh Prince persona, but the relaxed, good humoured conversationalist who is always a popular guest on the chat show sofas.
He comes across as precisely the sort of person you’d rather like to cruise down palm-fringed boulevards with, on your way to a relaxed showbiz party. The video for “Miami” was the perfect calling card for Will Smith’s post-Fresh Prince life.
I only came here for two days of playing
But every time I come I always wind up staying
This is the type of town I could spend a few days
Miami the city that keeps the roof blazing
The atmosphere isn’t all down to Will Smith’s relaxed and self-confident personality, though.
The choice of “And The Beat Goes On” by The Whispers to sample was a particularly good decision by Will Smith and his songwriting team. (The Whispers’ very old-school video, the sort they haven’t made for about 30 years, is here… https://youtu.be/pEmX5HR9ZxU )
“And The Beat Goes On” is a light-hearted, danceable song which doesn’t take itself too seriously either. A great example of matching the mood of the lyrics to the mood of the sample, rather than the mindless “cut and pasting” which is so often used as a shortcut for proper songwriting nowadays.
Later in “Miami”, the music segues into what sounds to me like Gloria Estefan’s “You’ll Be Mine (Party Time)”, although I can’t find a single reference to it anywhere…judge for yourself here… https://youtu.be/y8BmZ8lymUk
Released in the winter of 1998, “Miami” reached number three in the UK charts, although only made the top 20 in the US. It was probably just what we needed in the middle of a grey British winter.
The video would have hit MTV at the same time as all the TV commercials for sun-kissed summer holidays, it would have caught the British mood just right.
I still can’t believe it’s 20 years old, but it’s still sounds fresh and it’s a great, upbeat listen when you need a pick-me-up and a trip to what feels like a better place, partying away in the sunshine near a beach somewhere.
Here’s Will Smith with “Miami”… bienvenidos a Miami…
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading about another of my favourite songs. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to spend a few moments in the company of a song that I love.
The video is below, but if you prefer to listen to your music on Spotify, you can find this track here… https://open.spotify.com/track/6e8Ou0wiqAzIpWb2eSxll8