Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas – The Beginning

Wednesday, 8th December 2010

Louise Gardiner

Love them or hate them, the Black Eyed Peas continue to enjoy a successful career as one of the biggest pop acts in the world. With the huge success of the 2009 album The E.N.D (The Energy Never Dies) and the promotional World Tour, the band are savvy to exploit their success with the release of the follow up, The Beginning. While the Peas have pushed aside their hip-hop beats, they have instead churned out the non-stop dance-pop grooves that they explored on their previous album. As an album that was made for the relentless thumping of the club circuit, The Beginning has a ton of mindless music that is perfect for one thing only: partying.

With the reduction of Fergie’s vocals, the level of natural singing has drastically decreased. Although will.i.am’s studio distortions work well on the odd track or two, the soulful vocals of Fergie are sorely missed. While the singer can be heard on some of the songs, her helium-like vocals are unrecognizable for most part. As a man who knows his way around a recording studio, will.i.am seems to have over indulged in his use of auto-tune. With polished vocals and excessive sampling, the overproduction of the album obscures the band’s natural talent.

The opening track, ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ takes its melody and lyrics from the classic Dirty Dancing soundtrack. While Fergie’s vocal is one of her better offerings, it is cut short by the disjointed arrangement. With bizarre vocal distortions and jarring stutter sounds, the lead single is a mutilation of the classic soundtrack and starts the album off on a bad note. Like many of the sample-led songs, ‘Light up the Night’ is taken from Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’, and dominated by will.i.am’s studio-enhanced vocals and a barrage of synth riffs. Continuing with an overload of auto-tune, ‘Love you Long Time’ is a repetitious dance tune that ends up stuck in your head.

Far from being intelligent song lyrics, the tacky text language of ‘XOXOXO’ is as shallow as it gets. The fifth track, ‘Someday’, however, has a driving beat that is in close resemblance to the previously successful ‘I Gotta Feeling’ in terms of feel-good catchiness. As for the latter half of the album, it does not get much better with further sampling from Chic and the mimicking of Debbie Harry’s vocal from ‘Rapture’ on the pre-destined chart-topper ‘Fashion Beats’.

As an album that is saturated in auto-tune and excessive sampling, The Beginning is an overproduced piece of music, if that is the right word for it. Fans that enjoyed the Black Eyed Peas previous club-thudding sound, however, will no doubt lap up their latest offering. For those wanting a bit more diversity, be sure to skip this album and hope that the band tone down their machine-processed sound effects and come up with something less formulaic.


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