"Scream & Shout"
It turns out that superstar singers jot down to-do lists just like the rest of us. Here's will.i.am's for "Scream & Shout":
1. Go to the club.
2. Program an altered-state-inducing beat.
3. Turn up the stereo.
4. Party till morning.
5. See if Britney Spears wants to do the same.
That's pretty much what happens in The Black Eyed Peas' frontman's latest solo hit. That, plus a volley or two of vulgarity, some braggadocio and a whole lotta drinkin'.
Britney gets the synthesized soiree started with a verse in which her voice sounds like some sort of British/German-accented fembot doppelgänger parody of herself slinging s-words: "When you hear this in the club/You're gonna turn this s‑‑‑ up/You're gonna turn this s‑‑‑ up/You're gonna turn this s‑‑‑ up." It's no surprise, I guess, that everybody's watching her: "When we up in the club/All eyes on us/ … See the boys in the club/They watchin' us."
Other activities on tap include high-volume catharsis ("I wanna scream and shout and let it all out"), cranking up the decibels to hyperbolically destructive levels ("Turn it up and burn down the house") imbibing a cocktail or three ("Drink it up, and then drink some more"), smoking and/or perhaps lighting a metaphorical fuse ("Light it up, and let's let it blow"), and, of course, making sure no one forgets who's supposed to be the center of attention: "You are now, now rockin' with will.i.am and Britney, b‑‑ch."
Good thing everybody's already watchin'.
All of that electropop-fueled hedonism might best be summed up with this lyric: "Rock and roll, everybody let's lose control." It's a bash will.i.am wishes would just keep on blowing up: "When me and you party together/I wish this night would last forever."
That last line perhaps goes a bit deeper—albeit unintentionally, I suspect—than the other lyrics on this song (or most of the Black Eyed Peas' similarly party-oriented hits in the last decade, for that matter). Listening to this tune, as well as Peas hits "The Time (Dirty Bit)," "I Gotta Feeling" and "Boom Boom Pow," one gets the strong sense that will.i.am and his friends long for a euphoric, ecstatic experience that never ends.
Now, from a spiritual perspective, I can postulate that what they're really longing for is something that only God can give them. But the closest will.i.am can get to glory is a really, really long night at the club.
As for the video, it feels at times like outtakes from a lost mash-up between big-money clubbing and The Matrix. Will.i.am sports acres of sci-fi-cool leather as he sings. As for Britney, her outfits cover less of her, including one that bares her midriff and another that features a plunging neckline. It's a video that's every bit as self-consciously stylized as the song it backs … and, sadly, every bit as empty.