Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Club time, y’all!
The last time we checked in with will.i.am was all the way in late 2011, when he released his utter abomination (but still weirdly compelling) “T.H.E.” as a promo single for #willpower, and yes, it’s spelled with a hashtag. Here we are over a year later with “Scream & Shout”, another promo single for the oft-delayed #willpower (which apparently doesn’t have the willpower to get a timely release). “Scream & Shout” is meant to hold audiences over for the album’s tentative March release date.
And I cannot wait to listen to the whole thing.
I mean that without a shred of sarcasm; I will listen to #willpower the day it comes out. I find will.i.am to be–well, “fascinating” might be giving him too much credit, but entertaining. Here’s a guy who sees himself as a pop music auteur like Kanye West or Danger Mouse, someone whose work carries his own brand and signature; he’s not just making music, he’s making art. And he’s godawful at it. will.i.am can talk about the house music scene of Paris, reflect on what the big sound is going to be for pop in the next year, and then come out with something as dreadful as “Dirty Bit”. He dreams of being Tarantino, but can only manage M. Night Shyamalan.
Who else would release something like “Scream and Shout”?
It’d be one thing if “Scream and Shout” was just another mindless club jam that missed the mark, but there’s a lot of thought behind the song. No one feeling lazy makes a synth hook that sounds like a pitch altered sample of a busted refrigerator, or elongated bass, or that harsh, plucked loop that opens the song. After some four full minutes of gnawing beat, there’s a few extra flourishes and drums on the final chorus that are actually engaging, but the song as a whole misses the mark. I can imagine will.i.am spending time and attention to the details in the verses and chorus looking for a futuristic, sleek sound, but all he got out of “Scream and Shout” is a robotic, icy, and downright bad beat.
And speaking of “robotic”, welcome back to Radio Rants Britney Spears, how’ve you been? Because based on “Scream and Shout”, you’ve been in England. Or at least with Madonna. Britney’s first lines in the song come out processed beyond all recognition, and in an affected British accent that sounds like she wants to join Green Day. She ditches it for her backing vocals on the chorus, though. But even then, she sounds bored beyond recognition; I don’t mean bored in general–Spears tends to sound like she’s just reading whatever’s in front of her in her music lately–but bored by Britney measures bored. Then again, with “Scream and Shout”‘s lyrics, she didn’t exactly get a lot to work with.
“When you hear this in the club, you’re gonna turn this shit up” If it’s 4:00 AM, and they’re trying to send everyone home.
“When we up in the club, all eyes on us” “will.i.am and Britney Spears walk into a club”, and the punchline is this joke of a song.
“See the boys in the club, they watchin’ us” The line ends with “us”, this line ends with “us”, and the next line ends with “us”. I know it’s a nitpick, but at least have some variety to your filler lyrics.
At least Spears isn’t alone on the filler front. Will.i.am manages the almost impressive feat of having a chorus, a bridge, and two verses without saying a goddamn thing between any of them. The chorus, washed of repeats and loops is “I wanna scream and shout and let it all out/We sayin’ ‘Oh we oh we oh we oh'” And now, the verses!
I’m just kidding, why waste our time? The verses are all variations on “Rock and roll/lose control/Going faster, ain’t going slow/Rock it out/Burn down the house/Bring in the action/It goes on and on/I wish it’d last forever”. Yes, both verses. And the bridge. “Scream and Shout”‘s a party song that forgot that parties are supposed to sound fun. There is exactly one line in the entire song that’s noteworthy.
“You are now rocking with william and Britney, bitch!”
That “Gimme More” sample is nowhere near enough to save the song, but it’s still a weirdly inspired, unpredictable, and human touch in a song that’s more mechanic than the device you’re using to read this sentence. It’s the one blip in the over four and a half minutes of “Scream and Shout” that actually sounds like fun. And that’s this song’s biggest failing; it might be as terrible as “T.H.E.”, but doesn’t have any of that song’s sheer insanity to compensate. “Scream and Shout” is an ugly, harsh, downright turgid club jam that makes partying sound like a prison sentence than any form of release.