A Critical Analysis Of Kinect Star Wars’ ‘I’m Han Solo’ Song, The Definitive Text On The Character

Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas, in Lucasfilm’s latest attempt at exploring the man behind the mythos, Han Solo. But it is not the first time the company has deeply explored the beloved smuggler, scoundrel and hero. It’s done so before, in one of the greatest works of art in our modern times: Kinect Star Wars.

He’s Han Solo, Solo.GIF: Kinect Star Wars (Lucasarts/Microsoft Studios)

For those unaware of this licensing classic, Kinect Star Wars is a truly god awful video game released in 2012 for the Xbox 360, a showcase for Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect peripheral.

Players could swing lightsabers around (badly), speed off in pod-racers (badly), and, most bizarrely of all, take part in Star Wars-themed dances (also badly) set to real-life pop ditties tweaked to have Star Wars lyrics.

From the “Empire Today” to “Princess in a Battle,” Kinect Star Wars‘ dancing minigame is home to some of the most absurd auditory mishmashes of Star Wars and popular culture, but none are more legendary than “I’m Han Solo,” heavily lifted from the Jason Derulo classic “Ridin’ Solo.” Please listen, and be amazed (or horrified):

The infamy of “I’m Han Solo” has outlived any other memory of Kinect Star Wars, the embodiment of everything that makes the game a black mark in already pretty dodgy history of Star Wars gaming.

It’s meme-power is so potent, this week Select All published an in-depth interview with Kevin Afflack, a music producer on Kinect Star Wars, trying to uncover just how such a bizarre song was made in the first place.

But the story of “I’m Han Solo” is so much more than the hows and whys, it’s in the meaning we can derive from its insightful mediations on the psyche of Han himself. And so, to celebrate its depth, I — a man with an actual degree in English Literature — will now offer a literary analysis of this legendary song, a tale of trauma and identity.

I’m feelin’ like a star

You can’t stop my shine

I’m lovin’ Cloud City

My head’s in the sky

I’m Solo, I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo, Solo

The duality of man (the duality of Han, if you will) is self-evident in what will become a major refrain in “I’m Han Solo.” Contrast the first four lines of this verse, the elation in Han’s freedom, with the repetition of the last three. What is meant to signify perhaps a level of boastful confidence — he is Solo, the definite article, and wants the audience to know it — is undercut by the need to repeat this seemingly factual statement.

But Han is also subtly telling us something else here, in line with his characterization in the films as a man keen to keep his actual feelings close to his chest. He is both Han Solo and Solo — unique, individual and yet also, alone, under the mask of his supposed happiness.

Yeah, I’m feelin’ good tonight

Finally feelin’ free and it feels so right, oh

Time to do the things I like

Gonna see a princess everything’s alright, oh

No Jabba to answer to

Ain’t a fixture in the palace zoo, no

And since that carbonite’s off me

I’m livin’ life now that I’m free, yeah

The first verse plays off the braggadocio of Han’s freedom, as he reassures us that “since that carbonite’s off me” he has the capability to be the things that he believes define him once more — be a ladies’ man, answer to no one but himself and not hang on the walls of alien gangster’s palaces like a grim art exhibit.

Han’s idealised version of freedom here is one of restoration, a return to the man he once was, rather than one changed by his traumatic experience within the carbonite chambers of Bespin.

Told me get myself together

Now I got myself together

Now I made it through the weather

Better days are gonna get better

I’m so happy the carbonite is gone

I’m movin’ on

I’m so happy that it’s over now

The pain is gone

But as with the chorus, Han’s boastful joy in the prior verse is immediately contrasted with a more introspective, emotive follow-up. We have presented to us, at first, the Han that Han wishes to be, that confident suave hero that he has always been, but now we see that underneath that persona is a man who has weathered immense pain and internal conflict — and you know, being frozen for a bit — and is trying to pick himself back up in the wake of a harrowing experience.

The idealised boast of his smuggling life is not a status quo to return to here, but instead a longing dream, a need to be the man he was before his harrowing, life-changing experience at the hands of Darth Vader and Boba Fett..

I’m puttin’ on my shades

To cover up my eyes

I’m jumpin’ in my ride

I’m headin’ out tonight

I’m Solo, I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo, Solo

The mask parallels become more blunt as we head into the chorus refrain again — literally, shades over his eyes, the windows to Han’s roiling soul, covered up and safeguarded. He is jumping in his ride and heading out, away from the introspection of his internal pain and once again, the repetition of his name once again hammering away at that insecurity and solace.

I’m pickin’ up my blaster

Put it on my side

I’m jumpin’ in my Falcon

Wookiee at my side

I’m Solo, I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo

I’m Han Solo, Solo

There’s a similar theme in this alternate chorus, too. The doubly repeated second half further accentuates Han’s self-consciousness, but the first four lines once again contrast an exterior, immaterial self that Han seeks to define himself by.

His blaster, his ship, his co-pilot — distanced by not even being given his name, but instead just a species, because all that matters is the very image of it in relation to Han’s persona — are all empty accoutrements Han desperately seeks both value and validation from, but can never truly have, if he is truly Han Solo, solo.

Now I’m feelin’ how I should

Join the Alliance it feels so good, oh

Stopped feelin’ misunderstood

Back in the game

Who knew I would, oh

So flat, time I spread my wings

Lovin’ myself makes me want to sing, oh

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

This third verse strikes a much more different tone. It’s one of reconciliation — instead of yearning to be the man he was, Han instead begins to create a new self for him to inhabit; a responsible member of the Rebel Alliance, a man who not only knows who he is again, but loves who is he again.

The repeated “yeahs” here, unlike the repetitions in earlier verses, echo with confidence rather than insecurity.

From here, the second verse and the complete chorus is repeated — an understandable piece of structure, but perhaps a cry for reassurance, perhaps even a cry of futility, from our subject. The repeated vocals here act as an echo to the underlying existential turmoil that was merely subtext in their original lines’ context: Is Han Solo truly still Han Solo after all he has gone through during Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?

Most importantly, can he be? Who even is Han Solo, in Han’s eyes — the accessories and the exterior, or the troubled soul within? In conclusion, “I’m Han Solo” is a bad song but now I’ve listened to it approximately 30 times writing this post so I may never get it out of my head.

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