The E.N.D. is Forgettable
Nicholas Anderson | Friday, September 11, 2009
The Black Eyed Peas are famous for a couple of reasons. Fergie misspells words in lyrics. Will.i.am is the next Bob Dylan, at least according to Pepsi’s recent commercial. There are two other members as well. Between the four of them, they have been a pop powerhouse since the release of 2003’s “Elephunk.”
Will.i.am is clearly the leader and creative force in the group. He has come a long way since he signed his first record contract with Ruthless Records. The Black Eyed Peas just released their fifth album, “The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)”, approaching their new material in an unorthodox fashion. In their own words, “What is an album when you put 12 songs on iTunes … There is no album anymore.” The band is simply embracing the death of an art form that much of the industry is mourning.
Not only do the Black Eyed Peas ditch the concept of an album, they do so while setting the bar incredibly high. Again, in Will.i.am’s words, “[The album] is also the beginning of a whole new cultural birth.” No one is denying their ability to craft pop songs, but rebirthing a culture is an entirely different matter.
Seeing that the group didn’t set out to make an album, it seemed unfair to review it as such. Instead, each song was examined on individual merit. The reviews will be given from two perspectives. A: a listener experiencing the songs in sequential order on a hi-fi stereo system. B: an over enthusiastic partygoer whose shirt is a bit too shiny and cologne a bit too strong.
A: The three leading singles, “Boom Boom Pow,” “Meet Me Halfway,” and “I Gotta Feeling,” present an interesting variety of music. “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” are both obvious club bangers and work as such. However, “Boom Boom Pow” holds its entertainment value in a room with fewer sweaty bodies and more natural light. It does so by the merits of its strong bass line, solid production, and intentionally funny lyrics. “I Gotta Feeling” is much less impressive. The production sounds exceptionally repetitive and lyrics fall flat. It doesn’t matter how light hearted a song is supposed to be, listing the days of the week and throwing around some Jewish phrases does not constitute songwriting. “Meet Me Halfway” introduces the world to a BEP ballad. It’s meant as an emotional plea to a lover but comes off as pathetic. It’s the song a guy who has moped about a breakup for a month too long would write.
B: Oh man, I love these songs! It’s like Fergie is talking about this club! I’m gonna get my dance on! And “Meet Me Halfway” is heavy man. It’s like … heavy.
A: Three songs come off as strong singles. “Imma Be” is one of the more aggressive songs in their catalogue and the repetition apparent within every BEP song doesn’t overstay its welcome, combining for a strong single. “Rock the Body” surpasses mediocre based solely on a sample from The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Finally, “Now Generation” creates an impressive sound by looping computer enhanced vocals over a guitar and harmonica. It’s a mildly successful song that at least presents a new sonic texture resembling a hipster mash-up.
B: More Black Eyed Peas! They can’t make a bad song! They’re like the new Beatles, but better!
A: There are nine more song on the album, all more or less forgettable. The most disappointing moment is when it becomes apparent that “Party All the Time” isn’t an Eddie Murphy Cover.
B: I’m just going to dance all night. The Black Eyed Peas know how to party!