Review Summary: What's so shocking about pop?
You gotta think a big guy like Timbaland’s upset at being named the second best producer of the decade, only behind those two skater-looking punks known as The Neptunes. He’s been responsible for some of the biggest hits of the past 10 years, the real reason behind the massive careers of Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, and Nelly Furtado… but do you think Billboard’s list would give him his proper due? Shame. Some people can’t get no satisfaction.
But the truth is that at this point, we’re quite used to Timothy Mosley’s formula. Of course, once in a while a “Get Ur Freak On”, a “My Love”, or a “Promiscuous” comes along to make us remember what a phenom Mosley really is, but on his first attempt at a Shock Value, a cool collection of R&B that seamlessly translated into pop, there wasn’t a powerful enough standout. And on his second go-round, the aptly-titled Shock Value II, while his production talent is undoubtedly present, where he trades R&B for 17 tracks that are all basic pop radio fare for blondes, it’s even less shocking.
And most of you may stop reading this review once I tell you that basically, if you look at the artists featured on the songs, you’ll know if you’ll like the song or not. And it’s true, because nothing is really done to expand your expectations of any of them (though Chad Kroeger on “Tomorrow In A Bottle” is pretty cool). “Carry Out” is typical bouncy Timbaland-Timberlake, “We Belong To Music” is a full-on Miley Cyrus smash, and any track with his protégées Sebastian and D.O.E. may as well have been thrown on the first Shock Value.
Shock Value II suffers from another serious problem: instead of letting certain tracks rest on the artists they were clearly built around, Timbaland feels the need to tag in on songs that don’t need his presence. “Long Way Down” with Daughtry is incredible without his intrusion, “Undertow” would work better if it was solely a The Fray/Esthero single, and “Timothy Where You Been” with Jet exposes Timbaland’s terrible lyricism and weak vocals. “The One I Love”, however, would have welcomed a Timbo contribution next to Keri Hilson, but comes off unfinished.
Still, one of the greatest producers of our time from satisfies on a meager portion of the album. “If We Ever Meet Again” as mid tempo dance-pop turns his signature beatboxing into gold under auto-tune and Katy Perry in solid form. “Morning After Dark” races through quirky electro sounds as new protégée SoShy introduces her sexy dark demeanor. And “Say Something” features Drake’s singing-rapping combination perfectly meshed with a drumline production that no one else but Tim could have pulled off as well, even adding in a passable verse. “Can You Feel It?” and “Ease Off The Liquor” come as a pair, and feature Mosley’s most effective vocals on the album.
But Timbaland works best as a producer, not as a singer or as a rapper. And on Shock Value II, even where he excels, it’s still not too surprising. He clearly tries to morph his way through different styles of pop, but delivers even less of a significant statement this time around. Timbaland failing to create a solid project would seem impossible, but it seems as if he’s done it- twice.