Black Eyed Peas - 'Rock That Body'
Will.I.Am and I have a lot in common. We're both very clever, but also a bit stupid, we both like computers and music, and we both have very short attention spans. Luckily for me, wandering off the point is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to thinking about pop music. Actually making it takes a bit more focus.
The frustrating thing about some Black Eyed Peas songs can be how wildly they vary in quality from moment to moment. The band are frequently very good at coming up with a refrain or a beat or a squelchy bass quack which twangs on the brain's thrilltacular ganglion like the elastic on a catapult. They will then bring in one of the band to try and rap against this, as if trying to prove they can literally nail any cloud to any frog and come up with a new kind of milkshake.
Sometimes they do, and that's great, but sometimes...eesh! There's a verse here where Will raps bouncily about making your body rock/taking it to the top, first with his natural voice, then with the robot-lady voice. Trouble is, next to the martial rhythm of the hi-hats it just sounds a bit saggy and a bit strange. And not wow-fresh-amazing strange. Ramshackle strange.
And haven't they already got someone who can handle the higher vocal frequencies? Is there any need to break out the yodel-vocoder for the chorus when Fergie is sat over in the corner and sighing pointedly? Especially when her contribution to 'Boom Boom Pow' was the best bit of one of the best singles of the whole year.
On that note, Here's the video. It's actually two videos, for 'Imma Be' and 'Rock That Body', with a brilliant introductory skit in which Will.I,Am is showing off a new box which can make music for him. He puts in all of his singing ability, and "the whole English vocabulary", and it can churn out Black Eyed Peas songs from now until kingdom come.
Naturally the rest of the band are not impressed, because it reduces their role to mere arm-waving sidemen who don't do a right lot on their own records. I know, it's a thread you would think the band would want to avoid pulling AT ALL COSTS, but there we are.
Anyway, the skit thing is funny on two levels: the intentional one where we all enjoy the joke that a computer could actually do something like that and replace the human heartbeat at the core of all musical endeavours, and the unintentional one, where we all enjoy the joke that a box with these capabilities would need to use more than 30 words in the English language to cover the entirety of Will's lyrical output to date. And his singing range - unaided - isn't exactly going to tax the box's memory banks either.
Where was I? Oh yes, the SONG. It's a party banger, innit. Defies rational explanation because it's not aimed at the brain, it's aimed at body parts which are closer to the ground. Those parts are very well served, and as usual it's a pretty sumptuous production.
With that in mind, here's a final detour: the "I wanna rock right now" bit, is not a million mies away from a similar bit in a song called 'Play Some D' by Brassy, which was out a very long time ago and never really did 'the business', here or in the States. I'm not claiming any inspiration theft by the Peas, of course, it's just a nice reminder of a brilliant band from back in the olden days. Enjoy!
PS: If you can, trying putting this on a playlist in front of Bombay Bicycle Club's 'Evening Morning'. The juxtaposition of songs is really quite lovely.