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Benet’s “Love & Life” Bombs

Jess Shaffer | Friday, September 26, 2008

Eric Benét’s most recent release, “Love & Life”, seems an odd hybrid. One-third soul-gospel fusion. One-third, smooth jams, love ballads. And one-third nearly pornographic accounts of his sexual exploits. A winning combination? Not so much.

Not only is Benét creatively confused, he also suffers from generic vocals, uninspired instrumental, and lyrics that oscillate between unintentionally comical to cheesy to blatantly dirty. This is perhaps not surprising to those who know Benét from his two claims to fame. First, there’s his acting debut in Glitter, Mariah Carey’s raspberry winning flop. And there is his infamous marriage to Halle Barry, which ended in separation due to Benét’s numerous extramarital affairs and alleged sex-addiction. Both career highpoints are clearly tragic.

The opening song, “Love, Patience, and Time,” provides and interesting opening to album. With contrived, but smooth vocals Benét testifies to the power of love and overcoming hardship. An un-extraordinary opening presents a solid set of Christian values that deserves to be called nothing better than nice. Ironically, this soulful Christian jam is proceeded by “The Hunger,” an egotistical account of Benét’s psychical relationships complete with unnecessarily detailed makeout secessions and sex scenes.

This necrophilia soundtrack is then followed by “You’re the Only One I Need,” which is perhaps the most redeeming track on the album. Still, this stint of sweet monogamy seems out of place. And furthermore, its vocals fail to carry it through to its full potential. Benét has a tendency to sound more like a talented backup singer, and in this case particularly, lacks the power to deliver. In this way, he fails to bring anything new to the table, instead offering only mundane songs with oddly contrasting thematic qualities.

Though Benét attempts to follow in the great tradition of Marvin Gaye, he lacks the class, cohesiveness, and charisma to make it happen. There are no iconic love jams of “Let’s Get It On” quality to be found on this album. A great example of this is “Everlove,” a nauseatingly cheesy love song that sounds like background music for a 1970s preteen date at a roller rink. Something about it, much like the entirety of the CD, lacks freshness and just doesn’t work.

Other album low points include the amazingly awful foursome of “Chocolate Legs,” “Weekend Girl,” “Iminluvwichoo,” and “Spanish Fly.” All are so explicit that they are nearly pornographic; these jams miss the mark of romance and instead admire the greatness of the something more along the line of sexual favors. Equipped with cliché chimes, “Chocolate Legs” romantically explains that “I need something to feel so my spirit can heal. I need you to wrap your chocolate legs around me.” That’s the way to sweep a girl off her feet. Similarly in “Weekend Girl” Benét explains “I won’t spend my whole life uncommitted, but a lovely weekend girl is what I need today.” This song has the potential to become the theme song for sleazy guys everywhere with classy pickup lines like “I wanna do you.” “Spanish Fly” shows an equal amount of classlessness with the indecent proposal of “Won’t you use me baby?”

If all that’s not bad enough, then there’s “Iminluvwichoo.” Yes, it’s all an ungrammatical mess encapsulated in one word. This winner is the albums power jam, so to speak, equipped with full on funk. Perhaps the best part of this track, is when Benét’s voice is electronically processed to sound like a chipmunk professing “Iminluvwichoo, hey!” You can’t make this type of stuff up. This track, chipmunk and all, seems to be the anthem of players everywhere, teasing women with insincere sweet-nothings and professions of love. You’d think girls might start to doubt the seriousness considering the atrocious grammar and the chipmunk.

Overall, ND students are advised to avoid this album at all costs. That is unless you’re looking for a good laugh. In conclusion, only the immortal words found in Happy Gilmore are appropriate. “I award you no shamrocks and may God have mercy on your soul.”