The Black Eyed Peas – The Beginning (2010)

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Music

I’ve never really been a big fan of this band – especially lately – but my kids listen to their last album The E.N.D. all the time, so I thought I would give this a proper listen and review.

For way longer than it seems remotely probable, the Black Eyed Peas have been crafting beat-driven, synth-laden songs that provide the anthem for a sports game or wedding/graduation/bar mitzvah party.

So there’s no reason for them to switch it up on “The Beginning,” which, despite the title, is more like “The Continuation.”

Similar to the Peas music that has come before, the songs on “The Beginning” are sterile and, for the most part, devoid of emotion, other than an occasional positive bromide. The lyrics are simply in service of the beats beyond supplying a catch phrase or two, such as with past smashes, “Let’s Get It Started,” “I Gotta Feeling,” or “Boom Boom Pow.”

The members of the Peas—Will.I.Am, Fergie, Taboo and— are really alchemists, collecting beats from around the world, a snippet here, a synth line there, to concoct a dance party, which Fergie then weaves her serviceable voice around. Or at least that’s what happens when it works.

The first single, “The Time (Dirty Bit),” gets all its pizazz from lifting Dirty Dancing’s end-theme, “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” whose instantly recognizable chorus is juxtaposed with a robotic, futuristic verse. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It can be a risky gambit. Taking a beloved tune and pairing it with beats can alienate or work to draw new listeners in. In this case, the mix is fresh and catchy.

Sadly, the first single is also the high point of the album. To be sure, there are other flashes of inspiration and undeniable beats, but no song ever settles into a sustainable groove. Instead, the songs careen from one hammer hit to the next, using repetitive droning as connective tissue. And the autotune vocals grow a little old almost instantly.

I remember back to 2003 when the critics loved the Peas (with their release Elephunk) and the dance clubs shunned them. Funny how the times have changed. Now you can’t go into a club or turn on pop radio without hearing a Peas song, yet the critics have pretty much ignored their recent work or wrote it off as simply “bad.”

Performing at halftime of the Superbowl will surely be something to see tomorrow. They have always taken great advantage of public showcase (The Olympics, The Grammys, MTV Music Awards, etc.) Let’s just hope the band’s performance doesn’t leave a “black eye” on their career, and that – dear God – Fergie doesn’t “peas”…

01 – The Time (Dirty Bit)
02 – Light Up The Night
03 – Love You Long Time
04 – Xoxoxo
05 – Someday
06 – Whenever
07 – Fashion Beats
08 – Don’t Stop The Pa
09 – Do It Like This
10 – The Situation
11 – The Coming
12 – Own It
13 – The Best One Yet
14 – Just Can’t Get En
15 – Play It Loud

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link | Download (320kbps): Link


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