After multiple delays, numerous rumors about the diverse featured guest list and a stolen hard drive back in September, Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am is finally ready to release his fourth solo studio album, #willpower, on April 23. Preceded by three singles, including top three hit “Scream & Shout”, the dance/pop packed effort relies on heavy beats and synths and the talents of artists such as Nicole Scherzinger, Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown. While some tracks have potential to be huge radio hits, others are too noisy and chaotic to warrant a second listen.
Known more for his featured guests spots and producer credits than his solo work, will.i.am puts together a fifteen track album to get people ready for a night dancing their problems away. However, a few tracks in, the album runs into some problems of its own. The dance beats hold more priority than the vocals and songwriting, making them unimaginative throwaways.
Opening with the euphoric “Hello”, the album quickly transitions into two of its singles, “This Is Love” featuring Eva Simons and “Scream & Shout” featuring pop princess Britney Spears. While the former is a meaningful expression of love with Simons’ voice taking center stage, the latter was a desperate attempt at a number one hit. Spears altered vocals and fake British accent were not enough to warrant the uneven structure and amateurish lyrics of the club hit.
Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber and former Disney starlet Miley Cyrus are called on for assistance for the third and fourth singles. On “#thatPOWER”, Bieber is unfortunately only used for his name as his contribution is short and meaningless, plagued with writing such as “used to have a piggy bank, now I got a bigger bank”. The bright side is “Fall Down” featuring Cyrus. Long gone is the Hannah Montana persona, now emerges a pop heavyweight. Some lines are laugh worthy, but when Miley sings, everyone is expected to listen.
Others tracks on the album have the potential to achieve worldwide success. “Far Away From Home” featuring former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger is a revealing piece of heartfelt pop. Scherzinger uses her vocal talents to their fullest extent and the track automatically becomes one of the album’s brightest moments.
Same could be said for the Black Eyed Peas sounding “The World is Crazy” and “Love Bullets” featuring Skylar Grey. will.i.am allows things to come off naturally and that is when the magic happens. Production, lyrics and vocals all come together to create tracks worth a second listen.
“Let’s Go” featuring Chris Brown is a nice dance creation, despite the plagiarism allegations that currently overshadows it and the album’s strangest pairing, “Gettin’ Dumb” featuring Korean girl group 2NE1 and alp.de.ap, is one of the more interesting creations that actually work.
However, not all moments are deserving of critical praise. “Great Times Are Coming” is a confusing mix of hip-hop and dance, while “Ghetto Ghetto”, which describes the desire to leave unfortunate living conditions, does not do the job it sets out to do. The effortless feeling has disappeared, which is when things take a turn for the worse.
#willpower had immense potential, and it still contains some great dance moments, but it falls flat on too many occasions. Big names such as Britney Spears and Justin Bieber do not carry their own weight, while will.i.am seems to not even be trying at times. The highlights are tracks that have not been tampered with too much in the production stage. The artist needs to understand this. Pop stars like Nicole Scherzinger and Miley Cyrus appear on choruses that could steal the radio airwaves, but the brief highlights cannot cover up the problems.