The Black Eyed Peas had always been a pop music presence, but the past year and a half has been one giant popularity wave for them. Their 2009 album The E.N.D. spawned three number one singles (impressive, given that there’s one and a half good songs between them), and now we have their new single, “The Time (Dirty Bit)” from their newest album, The Beginning, which came out today. Well, YouTube is telling me we’re looking at five minutes of song, so let’s get crackin’.
The first thing is a kind of 8-Bit sounding synth line. Is that the “Dirty Bit” in the title? All the artwork I’ve seen for The Beginning is 8-bitified Black Eyed Peas (it’s oddly adorable), so it’s not an entirely left-field theory. But what’s “The Time” refer to? Actually, this chord progression sounds kinda familiar…
“I…had the time of my life” …oh, please, no. Tell me they didn’t sample “(I Had) The Time of My Life”, aka the Dirty Dancing theme song. I had to listen to this song all the time when I was a kid, and I have no memory of liking it at all. So that’s Strike One against “The Time”.
So on the chorus, we get will.I.am’s Auto-Tune mewling while Fergie proves that she could actually have a singing career. Then the song goes from an updated 80s hit to…a club jam? Really? This beat and elongated synth sound effect are actually kind of danceable, but a total left turn from where the song just was. And it does another hard left turn to go back to the chorus. Will.I.am’s production here isn’t bad, but “The Time” suffers from one of the same issues I had with “Boom Boom Pow” and “Imma Be”: it sounds like two separate songs stapled together.
And that sample. In case you missed my previous thoughts on sampling, basically I find it to be a fair music practice, but it does bug me when an artist blatantly lifts part of an old song and plugs into their own without changing much. You know, exactly what’s happening here.
Now, being a Black Eyed Peas song, we’re in for some terrible lyrics. Come read some with me.
“I don’t wanna take no pictures, I just wanna take some shots”–Like the ones you took to the head before doing this verse?
“And yeah it’s hot in hur/the temperature/It’s got these ladies gettin’ freakiyur“–That’s not how English works, and you know it, will.I.am. Shots to the head: confirmed.
“I didn’t come to get boogie/I came here to get rabies”–Excuse me, what? That line cannot make sense, and this is coming from the group who shoehorned “Mazel tov!” into their biggest song. Wait, wait, wait, it’s been brought to my attention that the word is not rabies, but “crazy”. I couldn’t tell underneath Fergie’s gratuitous A-Tuning. Wait, why the hell is Fergie Auto-Tuning? She can sing just fine! She sings on the fucking chorus!
“Cause I’m. Having. A good. Time!”–Well, if you want to be Spartans about it, go ahead.
“All these girls, they like my swagger/They call me Mick Jagger”–They just cribbed a line from Ke$ha. Because the Black Eyed Peas break out the shovel just when you think they hit rock bottom.
“We ain’t messin’ with no maggots”–Someone was sick on “double negatives” day in fifth grade, weren’t they?
I’m not going to post all of it here, but Apl’s verse is nothing but horrible puns on his name.
That’s “The Time (Dirty Bit)”, a lesson in how to write a dance track that isn’t remotely fun at all. Will.I.am’s good production gives some saving grace, but not enough to redeem a bad sample, enough Auto-Tune to make T-Pain cringe, and four verses that drag their knuckles across the dancefloor. Meh.
‘“I don’t wanna take no pictures, I just wanna take some shots”–Like the ones you took to the head before doing this verse?’
You aren’t appreciating the references they make to other songs, and this one obviously flew by your biased mind. This is an (obvious to me) reference to Ke$ha and Taio Cruz “Dirty Picture” song. Hence, the lyrics would have to relate to that somehow. It isn’t as random as you think. To each their own, though, and if you don’t like Black Eyed Peas then I wouldn’t expect any type of appreciation towards references to other pop hits.
If that’s a nod to “Dirty Picture”, then yeah, I missed it. But that’s a pretty vague reference; if the line was something like, “Don’t wanna take no dirty pictures, I just wanna take some shots” then it’d be much stronger. And having to reference a fairly similar-sounding song isn’t exactly flattering.