Like it or not, one of the most eagerly anticipated new record releases among pop fans and money grubbing music industry executives is that of The Black Eyed Peas pseudo farewell album “The E.N.D.” Apparently the Peas are claiming that despite the misleading title it is not their last record. And to think I was getting my hopes up.
This new record has all the makings of a 1980’s style cocaine fuelled musical flame out. Just listening to some of the first singles and seeing the absurdly lame titles that make up the majority of the song list brings to mind an epic disaster of the cinematic variety-“Waterworld.” This applies not only because so much of the vocalizing sounds like it was recorded underwater (shame on them for doing that to Fergie) but also because “The E.N.D.” seems like the end result of too much money, too much ego and too little talent being put on an unavoidable collision course. As with “Waterworld,” people might just line up to buy “The E.N.D” to see bad it turns out to be. We can only hope for the biggest musical car crash since, well, any album the band Creed has ever recorded.
For the last few years the Peas have pretty much ruled the pop charts with producer Will.I.AM also managing to crack out a sizeable solo hit for group member/wife of Josh DuHamel/serious hoochie mama Fergie. While her first record was a little bit too heavy on fluff, the occasional gem like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” showed that perhaps she is the only Pea with even a modicum of staying power. Let’s just say that Fergie appears to be the only one who might be either smart enough, not burned out enough, or sober enough to be able to work on new material once the inevitable onslaught of 8 Black Eyes Peas singles finally fade into memory probably a year from now.
Message to Fergie, though-We realize that Will.I.AM gave you your big break but PLEASE try a new producer for your second album. Perhaps a producer who is a little more adept at orchestrating actual live musical instruments to back up that lovely voice and not continually relying on a Pro Tools program.
Unfortunately for us, “The E.N.D.” also marks the return of Will.I.AM the rapper. To put it in perspective, Vanilla Ice has more talent for rapping in his little finger than Will.I.AM. At least Vanilla knew how to “cook MC’s like a pound of bacon.” Such clever/lame wordplay as was used by Mr. Ice in his 1990’s classic “Ice, Ice Baby” is even beyond the realm of contemplation for this architect of The Black Eyed Peas rump shaking beats. But the fact of the matter remains that the problem with his raps is not content but rather his inability to rhyme anything but the simplest of words.
While Will.I.AM has never been a greatly talented rapper, it is also downright shocking that in every single released so far in support of “The End” he seems to be plagiarizing his own lame raps from earlier Black Eyed Peas albums. An example? He almost single handedly ruins the one decent single released so far called “Meet Me Halfway.” As if repeating a mantra, he chants this lame come on in between Fergie’s saucy vocal cooing, “I spend my time missing, missing, missing you/I guess every day I am thinking, thinking, thinking about you/And all of those things we used to, used to, used to do.” Seriously, is he kidding? That rap could just as easily been inserted into “Let’s Get It Started,” or even “Hey Mama.” I think it is time for Mr. I.AM erases that rap from his Pro Tools program ASAP.
While the Peas have never specialized in making music for those with classical aesthetical tastes, their catchy singles have usually managed one unique trait that makes them so successful-heart. So what does that say about “Boom Boom Pow?” This melodically torturous lead single is not only their most successful single to date but also manages to make the listener wish he or she was being waterboarded by Dick Cheney. If ever there was a song whose beating heart had been ripped out only to be replaced with electronic wires, metal and cables that convey a sonic landscape as barren and joyless as the land surrounding Chernobyl.
Summer is supposed to be a time where young people drive around in ragtops with the latest hit pop song (which has no doubt burrowed into their cerebellum after just one listen) blasting from their radio speakers. The Black Eyed Peas in the past few years could always be trusted to deliver such aural bliss. But unless The Black Eyed Peas decide to not include weak a number of its weak intro singles like the annoying “Imma Bee” (which oh-so cleverly rhymes the phrase “I’m a bee” with “twenty first century”) or “Alive” (featuring so many vocal cover ups that even Britney Spears would think it was a cop out), it appears that “The E.N.D.” might just be their musical swan song. Or one can hope.
“The E.N.D” will be in stores on June 9th and for anyone with any interest in new music it might be tempting to hit that “buy” button on Itunes. But even if you go into the purchase knowing that it most likely is a horror show unsurpassed since we as music fans were forced to listen to every song that wasn’t “Thank You” on Alanis Morrissette’s “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie,” you will still be saddled with that most dreaded of emotions-music buyer’s remorse. If you need just one Black Eyed Peas fix do feel free to download “Meet Me Halfway.” Let’s just hope that some other talented pop group has an obnoxious hook and a killer groove ready to get us in the mood for summertime.