With Peas mastermind Will.i.am assuming a share of the production duties on the hip-hop band’s latest effort, things have turned in a decidedly electronic direction. The album title’s acronym stands for Energy Never Dies. Accordingly, an omnipresent, pulsating, synthesized vibe permeates the proceedings, a style Vibe magazine characterized as “a mélange of soulful electro-funk and addictive rave-ready anthems.”
Many of The E.N.D.‘s 15 songs involve innocuous wordplay that imitates sounds and beats. “Boom Boom Pow” is representative in this sense, with lines such as, “Boom boom boom, gotta get get” repeated rhythmically over and over. “One Tribe” includes some positive messages about the importance of unity and the danger of greed (“We need to help each other/ … Brother, sister rearrange this/The way I’m thinking that we can change this bad condition”). Both parties in a struggling romantic relationship pledge to try harder on “Meet Me Halfway.” Given some of the sexual content elsewhere on the album, “Alive” is a refreshingly innocent old-school love song in which a man tries to rekindle love’s spark by saying things like, “Baby girl, you’re so remarkable, so special, so wonderful.” “Now Generation” possibly offers some commentary on how technology has made us less patient.
If there’s one song on this album that best captures BEP’s overall attitude toward life, it’s “Party All the Time.” That titular line is repeated frequently, and the chorus suggests, “If we could party all night/And sleep all day/And throw all of my problems away/Life would be easy.” The party scene the band describes almost always involves dancing, which frequently leads to casual sex and drinking (“Boom Boom Pow,” “Rock That Body,” “Imma Be,” “I Gotta Feeling,” “Electric City,” “Rockin’ to the Beat”).
We hear repeated slang references to the male and female anatomy, as well mentions of sex toys, bodily fluids and oral sex. Sometimes these references are suggestive double entendres, while other times the band spells things out pretty explicitly. “Ring-a-Ling,” for example, is about women who call up their lovers in the middle of the night because they’re desperate for sex (“Some little queen need a full-on sting/ … Then my phone go ring a ling a ling ling/ … Then the girls want ding a ling a ling ling”). A handful of partially censored f-words turn up, but a dozen or so s-words come through loud and clear, along with a couple misuses of God’s name and about 20 other profanities or slurs (“d–n,” “a–,” “b–ch,” “n-gga”).
Rolling Stone magazine describes the Black Eyed Peas as a group hailing from a musical tradition that glories in lyrics that are “aggressively, festively, infectiously dumb.” If only dumb lyrics were this disc’s sole problem. Unfortunately, that’s just the starting point for most of these songs, and it goes downhill from there as the Peas exalt an immoral lifestyle that sounds like carpe diem run amok.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.