The Black Eyed Peas are arguably one of the most iconic hip-hop groups since Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. Since Behind the Front, (their debut album) the Los Angeles based ‘supergroup’ have sold an estimated twenty seven million singles and albums worldwide. The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies), their fifth release, will sell a heap more. Their first single from the album, Boom Boom Pow, has spent just about a month at the top spot on iTunes’ influential charts, leading to more than two million sales and achieving the title of their highest selling song to date. The point is, it doesn’t matter what the Black Eyed Peas release: it will be popular. They could sing Happy Birthday and chances are it’ll make it into the top forty. The Black Eyed Peas are a force in music, and they always will be, whether you like it or not. The E.N.D. is best summarized by the producer and group member of BEP, will.i.am:
Dance stuff, real melodic, electronic, soulful. We call it, like, electric static funk, something like that.
Unlike previous BEP albums, The E.N.D. doesn’t have a solid structure or ‘story’. Instead, it opts for a mix of “electric static funk” songs that are only brought together by beat and rhythm. I can imagine a good majority of the songs playing in nightclubs and parties. Co-produced by house music legend David Guetta, The E.N.D. certainly makes use of the French DJ’s musical talents. The foundation of songs such as Missing You are reminiscent of Love Don’t Let Me Go (Walking Away) and When Love Takes Over. Guetta’s involvement in the album’s music is notable and contributes to the ‘party’ feel of the album.
Boom Boom Pow
The debut single of the album, Boom Boom Pow is a powerful and catchy piece. However, the song is lyrically weak and requires more than one listening in order to fully appreciate the song. Die hard BEP fans will likely be bewildered by the song’s uniqueness. Don’t be put off by it, the album features such a large range of sub-genres that Boom Boom Pow haters will be more impressed with the group’s other attempts. 4/5
Rock That Body
The song’s headache-inducing beat is too much for me. It’s all-over-the-place rhythm is poor, even by BEP‘s standards. Possibly my least favorite song on the album. That said, I can appreciate the feel of the song, and commend the piece’s compounding layers. 2/5
Meet Me Halfway
This highly-synthesized song is very much like a remixed generic 80s balled hit. Well constructed, lyrically sound. One of the group’s pre-release singles, with Imma Be and Alive. These three songs, when listened to together, demonstrate the contrasting sub-genres that the album features. 3/5
Very unique collection of beats. The song goes from electric to pseudo-lounge in under three minutes. The piece is designed to showcase the music rather than the mostly uninteresting and disjointed lyrics. It’s certainly a very entertaining song. 3.5/5
I Gotta Feeling
The second single from The E.N.D., to be released on June 16th, I Gotta Feeling is very much a love-it-or-hate-it song. I’m surprised it’s been chosen as the second single. It’s lyrically sound (when compared to other songs on the album), but relatively speaking, I can’t see this as a super-successful release. 3.5/5
I’m impressed with the ’21st century love song’ approaching that the Black Eyed Peas have chosen to pursue in this piece. One of the better songs included on The E.N.D.‘s plethora of dance songs. 4/5
Another impressive piece. The four very different group members’ voices come together particularly well in another updated 80s-style beat. Rhythmically sound. Would perform well as a single release. 4/5
Ring-a-ling is an interesting song. I think it suits The E.N.D. well, but in another sense, I think it’s probably titled best as a ‘filler’ song. I like it, and I think older BEP fans will enjoy the song’s lyrics, but definitely a B-Side track, if B-Sides were still around. 3/5
Party All the Time
Probably the track that’s most likely to become popular in various nightclubs around the world. Guetta‘s influence should be noted. Lyrically speaking, it’s a little under-powered, but that’s not what the song’s about. The music is there, and it’s strong. 2.5/5
Out of My Head
I can see Jamiroquai as inspiration for this very Fergie-oriented track. I’m not particularly fond of Fergie’s vocal interruptions throughout the track. That said, I enjoyed listening to it and feel the Bridging the Gap vibes going on here. A pleasant and melodic funky song. 3.5/5
Electric City, another Fergie-oriented track, is very Blasck Eyed Pea. The combination of bass and hip-hop sounds makes for a solid track. It’s not a groundbreaking song, but fans will be pleased with the traditional BEP theme. 3.5/5
Like Rock That Body, the twelth and pseudo-house style song on The E.N.D. has a distinctly new musical taste. Showdown is an obviously electronic, overly powerful track. Recommended for fans of co-producer David Guetta. 3/5
I really enjoyed listening to this track. Perhaps the only song on the album that really makes a point through its lyrics, Now Generation is catchy, melodic and contributes heavily to the album’s appeal to the youth, from its mentions of iChat and Facebook to producer and group member will.i.am’s reference to Barack Obama’s success, which coincidently was partly created by him and his viral campaign piece (viewed over eighteen million times), Yes We Can. 4/5
One Tribe is comparable to Where is the Love? or Union, which curiously appear near the end of Elephunk and Monkey Business, respectively. Lyrically and rhythmically strong. I don’t think BEP will release it as a single, but personally, I think it’s a better song than I Gotta Feeling. 4/5
Rockin to the Beat
The last song on The E.N.D. is reminiscent of David Bowie‘s Let’s Dance with Kanye West‘s Stronger thrown in to the mix. I like it. The song starts with (or rather, the fourteenth track ends with) a Darth Vader-style narration:
There is no longer a physical record store, but we will continue to let the beat rock…
I praise the Black Eyed Peas for embracing new technology, rather than regarding it as a nuisance like other similar artists. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the lyrics of Now Generation, but it’s worth mentioning that will.i.am thanks ‘technology’ in the credits of the album. Kudos there. 3.5/5
I would recommend the album to BEP fans and casual listeners, but warn that the album is distinctly different to the group’s ‘pre-Fergie’ releases. Personally, I think it’s a solid album and one in which the Black Eyed Peas will be rewarded with high sales. Since appearing on the Japanese iTunes Store three days ago, it’s already made its way to number one, and sits comfortably in the top ten on Australia’s charts in less than twenty four hours after release. More than any other 2009 release to date, the Black Eyed Peas truly show that Energy Never Dies. – r.
Note: We’ll update the post with more links to the US iTunes Store when the full album is released on June 9th.