Review Summary: opaque
What is the secret to success?
I won’t even bother leading this off with a tedious introduction of The Black Eyed Peas because, after all, they’re arguably one of the biggest names in pop music... but why? What do they do better/differently than their contemporaries that allows for their staggering mainstream popularity? The answer is bleak and hilariously simple: nothing. It also raises a new question though: what then is the secret to success? People may find it offensive, but the truest thing to be said is that mediocrity sells. Record labels are fully conscious of this and obviously monopolize in this way, and while the bands aren’t entirely to blame, a lot of them clearly don’t seem to really have a problem with it. The Black Eyed Peas, for example, have continued to assault our ears via radio-waves with their unrelenting, deleterious singles - leaving nothing worthy of standing out amidst the eternal dross being continuously pumped out. But it makes sense in a way. The Club constituency is comprised of adolescents who thrive on simple, derivative pop tunes - those utterly mindless songs designed to rouse a crowd and get people moving to their painfully dull (teetering on lifeless) beats. The Black Eyed Peas seemingly have no quarrel with conforming to this standard, which is why The Beginning
sounds as unimaginative and indolent as ever.
The most unsettling thing about all of this is that (believe it or not) The Black Eyed Peas were actually once tolerable - hell, I daresay they were actually good
earlier in their career. One could argue that the recruitment of Fergie started their decline and eventually led to them producing the music that dominates the airwaves today - especially when you actually consider the fact that they started off so innocently. In their earliest releases we see Will.i.am and co. as a relatively respectable hip-hop trio (back when they could actually be considered hip-hop) with enjoyable flow and adequate vocal delivery. What a shame it is then when we put it all into perspective. Their decline came after releasing Bridging the Gap
, the album proceeding Behind the Front
. From here, Will.i.am clearly had a lapse in judgment when concluding that Fergie (Stacy Fergusun) would make a fine addition to the group. He had an even greater lapse when cited saying that their new album “symbolizes growth, new beginnings, and starts a fresh new perspective,” In no capacity is this an expansion or change in their sound - if anything, they’re further appealing to and selling out for the masses.
We’ve heard it all before: repetitive bass lines coupled with lyrics so incoherent that you’d think a child with down syndrome wrote them. Every passing moment is at best offensive and excruciatingly painful at worst. On the opening track and lead single “The Time (Dirty Bit)” the Peas express how lacking they are in creativity by sampling the chorus of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”; inadvertently insulting fans of the original. As per usual, Will.i.am has sought to sell auto-tune to us, but it’s so clearly a gimmick at this point that it’s a wonder as to why he continues to exhaust it. Much like on this song, the group rely on repetition throughout The Beginning
to enthrall their audience, but it ends up being exasperating and at times just plain annoying. How often can they employ the same tactics before noticing how redundant they’ve become? Regardless, they’re clearly conscious of the fact that simplicity sells, it’s laced throughout this album for a reason. Any semblance of them as once good is nearly eradicated with this further degradation. It’s difficult now to even fathom the notion that the same people who brought us Behind the Front
have sunk to the lows of both The E.N.D.
and The Beginning
; what’s worse is knowing that they’ll only continue along this path, as history suggests. In the end, one can’t help but chuckle at the irony of Will.i.am suggesting that this is somehow a new beginning which ‘starts a fresh new perspective’. The Beginning
is a derivative restatement if ever there was one.
"Kill you with my lyricals/Call me verbal criminal."