SoundBites: Innovation no longer strong suit for Black Eyed Peas


The Black Eyed Peas manage to embarrass themselves three times in the first two minutes of The Beginning. Heres their surefire formula: sample the Dirty Dancing theme song (Ive Had) the Time of My Life. Next, disregard Jay-Zs advice and douse the entire track with Auto-Tune. Finally, summon Nelly by telling listeners Its gettin hot in hurr.

These transgressions all occur in the first song, The Time (Dirty Bit). It was the highest rated song on the album when it was released Tuesday on iTunes. 

The future-pop groups follow-up to last years The E.N.D. is simple club music, nothing more. At least the 2009 disc permeated airwaves with gloriously tacky party anthems; the 15 tracks on Beginning are equally unforgettable, but its because of their folly. 

Its hard to bob your head to the rhythm when youre laughing hysterically. Take Will.I.Ams lyrics from XOXOXO as an example: Girl you stole my heart like a klepto / Butterflys in my tummy need Pepto / Bismol baby give me more sex though / Its your pleasure like Im Gecko. And so on.

Look its the Black Eyed Peas. They know theyre absurd theyve made a living off of it. I understand why they make music that sounds like robots on drugs at a sock hop inside a video game: its fun and its profitable. But its no longer innovative and its a little hard to swallow unless you happen to be on a dance floor, which is fine.

Synth-laced beats and throwbacks to the 80s dominate the entire album. (Is that decade pass yet? Please? Its been 30 years.) It seems like every other lyric is party but that overlooks baby and poppin, which also figure prominently.

Beginning is true to what it is: entertainment, pure and simple. It has an overall soaring sound but often soars too high to feel comfortable. 

Love You Long Time has to be the next anthem from the Black Eyed Peas. It has a congenial, catchy hook anchored by Fergie, the foursomes most dynamic asset. Though she tries to forfeit that title with a solo reminiscent of Lisa Lobe in Whenever. If it didnt work for Lisa, why would it work for you, Fergie?

In Light up the Night the group samples the beat from Slick Ricks 1989 hip-hop narrative Childrens Story. It borders on sacrilege, but biting off other artists is integral to hip-hops art form. Not that the Black Eyed Peas have much to do with the genre anymore, but we cant forget they began as a rap trio under Eazy-Es label in 1992. They later expanded and became an innovative act, performing positive lyrics with live bands, an exception in that era of hip-hop. 

Now their hooks consist of repeating the words hugs and kisses.

Their 2009 release recreated the groups innovative spirit but The Beginning lacks its prequels originality. I cant help but think of the Black Eyed Peas as a slightly edgier version of the Glee cast, making them about as edgy as a pair of nail clippers. For what it is, though, Beginning works, and it seems to work for their worldwide contingent of fans.