Okay, this is probably going to get some hate. It has all the right ingredients. John Mayer‘s “Your Body Is A Wonderland” has long been an easy punching bag for critics, fans, and media alike for years, whether for its too-cute-by-a-half sincerity or its evolution into an anthem for a generation of thirsty dudes with acoustic guitars. Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates, however, adopts the Mayer song’s chorus without a trace of irony on his new single, the aptly titled “Wonderland”. With a touch of autotune and some dark, thematic ambiance, Kevin Gates’ “Wonderland” took what may at first sound like a bad gimmick and turned it into a solid new track.
Mayer has previously commented on his own “tumultuous relationship” with “Your Body Is A Wonderland” over the years. As he explained prior to performing the song at a September 2019 performance at L.A.’s The Forum, after writing the song in his early 20s and watching it become a global sensation, he began to resent it, leaving it on the shelf for years. However, as he concluded, about two years ago, he “ran into this song out there in the world and… it was lookin’ pretty good. It had worked out. Turned out that, over time, it maybe had morphed from being a silly, frat house kind of a song to representing some kind of innocence in my life that I’ll never get back again.”
He continued, “Because let me tell you something, you have to be very innocent to write a song called ‘Your Body Is A Wonderland’. Because if you knew any more about the world, you would know that that song might go down in history as being a little silly. But I’m gonna sing it for you tonight without any silliness at all. I’m gonna sing it with its intended sincerity. Yes, it has the phrase ‘bubblegum tongue’ in it, but I’m even gonna sing that one from the heart. And I even know that you guys are gonna dance and sing along to it ever-so-slightly ironically, and that’s OK. ‘Cus that’s what you’re allowed to do with your past. You’re allowed to ironically celebrate your past. Gentlemen who love the guitar, hang tight. Hang tight for three-and-a-half minutes.”
Fair warning: If you’re a John Mayer fan, whether from his solo material or his work with Dead & Company, the song is a vast departure from what you’re used to. The Kevin Gates adaptation of “Your Body Is A Wonderland” has a sharper edge replete with trap 808s and more shocking lyrical imagery—it’s nothing beyond the pale in usual hip-hop terms, but it’s not exactly “candy lips” and “bubblegum tongues.” That said, keep an open mind. I clicked play on this song out of morbid curiosity, my head was bobbing by the third minute, and I’m now on replay number three.
It’s unclear whether Mayer has signed off on Gates’ use of his words and melody. He has yet to acknowledge the Kevin Gates release publicly, and the fact that it was shared to YouTube but not to streaming platforms is probably telling. Either way, it’s worth a listen even for the most skeptical of skeptics. Check it out below:
Kevin Gates – “Wonderland”