The Black Eyed Peas were going for a hip European-style dance album to follow up 2009’s smash The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies). Unfortunately, what they wound up with is a 15-track argument for why the Peas should go back to their roots of pop and hip-hop.
The first single, “The Time (Dirty Bit)” has a catchy dub-step style melody behind the verses but the lyrics are repetitive and uninspired (“I was born to get wild/that’s my style/if you didn’t know that/well baby then you know now”). And the worst part, the chorus is a sample from an already overplayed song, “The Time of My Life” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Will.I.Am’s lyrics are all auto-tuned, but Fergie’s voice is refreshingly real, one bright spot on the track.
Other singles include “Light Up the Night”, reminiscent of a broken jock jams record, and “Do It Like This”, another drum/synth club jam but featuring Fergie as an early Gwen Stefani. Fergie also emulates another female rock idol on “Fashion Beats”- Blondie’s Debbie Harry, circa Rapture. “Fashion Beats” is one of the best-produced songs on the album; Will.I.Am’s lyrics are still weak but the music sounds just like Daft Punk.
Overall, the whole album lacks depth. The majority of the songs only use a synth/drum combo and the lyrics are weak. Don’t be intimidated by Will.I.Am’s empty threat, “kill you with my lyricals, call me verbal criminal”; he’s no Talib, or even Drake. The album will make your head bob at times – as it was definitely made for the clubs, but is not enjoyable when listened to straight through.
‘The Beginning’ was released November 26th, 2010, ending its first week at #6 with sales of 119,000. That’s not as well as 2009’s The E.N.D., which debuted at #1 with 304,000 copies sold in its first week. It’s doubtful that ‘The Beginning’ will reach the same success as its predecessor, which has sold over 11 million copies, but maybe the loyalty of the Peas’ fans (including Oprah who included the album on her “Favorite Things 2010”) will make it happen.
Written by Meghan Bender