NEW YORK - Cee Lo's expletive-laden song has been criticized for being in poor taste, but the musician says it's actually a work of art.
"What I've tried to accomplish, like, is making art products ... so I still believe that (the song) can be classified as art because it's an original piece and the edge and alternative is there, and the integrity is intact," he said in a recent interview.
The song, about a gold-digging ex, is titled "(Expletive) You" and he drops 16 f-bombs in just 3 1/2 minutes over a sweet-sounding, retro groove. The current video is a colorful stream of the song's lyrics and it was viewed more than 3.7 million times in one 11-day stretch on the singer's YouTube page. An official video was released last week, and the song will appear on Cee Lo's album "The Lady Killer," out Dec. 7.
Although the jam has gotten rave reviews, it's also had its share of criticism. Dan Isett, the director of public policy for the Parents Television Council, said in a statement the song "is just the latest example of an entertainment industry bent on racing to the bottom of the barrel."
But Cee Lo said he was trying to elevate music with the song, and it's something the music industry does not do enough.
"The system does not, you know, advocate art so to speak, but it does package and promote products and product placement and there's a definitive difference between the two, art and product," he said. "I have yet to sit down and try to write something for the sake of radio. I just never done it, not consciously."
Still, there will be a radio-friendly version of the viral hit: The mildly titled "Forget You" will hit airwaves soon, although Cee Lo says that wasn't the initial plan.
"It wasn't like we were looking for it to be a radio hit of some sort. It was only until a short time after that we considered doing a clean version just in case," he said.
Cee Lo is best-known as one-half of the Grammy-winning duo Gnarls Barkley, who had the instant classic "Crazy." He first appeared on the music scene in 1995 with the Southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob.
Cee Lo calls the success of his latest song "a miracle of some sort." Although he may have lofty views of its artistic merit, he's also aware it's just a dose of naughtiness too.
"I get to be bad a little bit so that's what was fun about it. It's quite a bit of mischief in that song, so we weren't taking ourselves too seriously," he said.
In October, Cee Lo will host Fuse TV's "Lay It Down," an interview and performance-based show he calls "more intimate (and) off the record."