The Black Eyed Peas’ Short-lived Journey to the Future – The Vanderbilt Hustler


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At one point on the evening of February 6, 2011, millions of Americans look at as the Black Eyed Peas were introduced from the ceiling of AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Everything about the show, whether you were watching from home or scurrying off the platform, felt futuristic: All four members wore all-leather outfits that made them look like the gang of disjointed protagonists from a sequel to ” Matrix ”forthcoming. . As they touched the stage, they were flanked by dancing humanoids, robots and a host of excessive pyrotechnic displays. “I Gotta Feeling” was exploding in the background, and for all you saw there was no way you couldn’t put your hands up in the air and rest assured that tonight was, indeed, going to be. a good night.

For the duration of their short period in the limelight – symbolized by the aforementioned performance of the Super Bowl Halftime Show – the Black Eyed Peas took advantage of this utopian aura, asserting themselves as the torchbearers towards a future full of good. nights, promising zero limits on how long the fun would last. A majority of the band’s lyrical approach was aimed at making you either feel excited to share a world with them or regret that you missed the memo.

“I am so three thousand and eight; you’re so two thousand and later, “boasts Fergie in” Boom Boom Pow. ” In the Musical clip for “Imma Be”, a larger-than-life robot walks away towards the sunset as apl.de.ap struts through its array of closure bars. “Live life, feel free; that’s how it’s supposed to be, ”raps apl.de.ap, his mohawk reaching the same heights as his spirits. “Come and participate in my festivities, celebrate as I am. If you weren’t already on the Black Eyed Peas wave, it was time to grab your surfboard. It was, if the time had not already passed.

When I was much younger and didn’t have Gen-Chem exams or one triple dorm to worry, I remember being mesmerized by the Black Eyed Peas Beyond Salvation. One of my earliest memories is having a good conversation with my mom after shouting the words “I’m going to be in the club doing what I love” – ​​without, of course, knowing which club I was talking (not the boys and girls for sure) – in the middle of our kitchen. I owned an electric foosball game and after hitting the one-season Super Bowl that I had spent the last few months faking, I invited my whole family to watch the “halftime show”: four cut-out paper drawings of the group, flying around the living room on “jetpacks” (aka my hands). Whenever my dad did haircuts for me in our bathroom, I would show him pictures of will.i.am and apl.de.ap, bursting into tears when he explained to me that (1) I didn’t didn’t have enough hair for either look and (2) even though I did the answer was still no.

The appeal of the Black Eyed Peas to skinny third graders like me, and America at large, was a sense of being free from the countdown – a sense that was just as accessible as it was desirable. Throughout the era he championed, that sentiment was not confined to a single act. In a 2017 trial to the tone of popular music throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, former New Yorker editor Matthew Trammell beheld the ubiquitous weightlessness that seemed to reproduce across genres.

Ironically, it was the stability and coolness of the ground beneath us under Obama that sparked our interest in Heaven, whether through the windows of Nicki Minaj’s starships or locked out of Heaven with Bruno Mars, ” wrote Trammell. “If there was a single mission shared by Obama pop, it was to search for a limit, a fascination with what was above and in front of us, and to arrive at fly like a G6. “

The Black Eyed Peas always make music in the same vein. Their latest album, inspired by 2020 reggaeton “Translation, has received favorable reviews from a multitude of publications, including an applauded him for being “a whole new side of the Black Eyed Peas, which has finally been refreshed, which revises their tried and true dance-pop formula”. It’s the same airborne music that drops everything and climbs aboard the rocket that, with one foot on stage and the other in the future, revolutionized the imaginations of an entire generation. But if the formula hasn’t changed, why haven’t they been relevant for a decade? Ironically, their abrupt disappearance from the cultural canon points to the one variable on which they have built their brand avoiding: time. And while the formulas don’t change, the times certainly do.

Almost a year after the group’s grand entrance from the AT&T stadium ceiling, for example, will.i.am was invited to speak on an upcoming Intel product at a major convention organized by the company. He stood on stage, a symbol and living embodiment of the future he had spent years prophesying: extravagant sunglasses (inside), crazy hairstyle, quirky demeanor. There was a feeling that when Intel had chosen him to give them the address, it was hoping to both align with and capitalize on the afterlife of the swag-out that it had made American culture addicted to. However, when the audience stopped applauding and forced to give the mystic a voice, her reality unfortunately failed to live up to her philosophy.

“I’m excited, you know… because I’m in the studio all the time making music… traveling the world… writing music… on my computer… talking about music.” And when I go to buy new material… I will… and I see to see if that chip is there, ”said will.i.am, stiff and awkward.

The further he walked, the more he looked like a kid who thought he would pass the presentation without notes, and was now desperately trying to hide his crippling jitters when he finally saw the conference room from the front.

When you search for “will.i.am Intel” on YouTube today (seriously, go ahead), terms that appear include “Will.i.am Technology Cringe Compilation”, “will.i.am idiot.he. is ”and“ will.i.am: World champion bullshit. ”More than just a series of unfortunate slips of public events, these examples are a painful but global picture of the plight responsible for the downfall of his group Overall: No matter how far you venture in the future, the clock always has its lasso around your neck. At some point the slack will run out. And whether or not that fits your aesthetic, you will be mercilessly brought back to Earth in front of all you inspired to escape its gravity.will.i.am could flee mortality, but like all of us, he couldn’t hide forever.

The most popular example of catching up with Black Eyed Peas is Fergie’s Painful interpretation of the star-spangled banner at the 2018 NBA All Star Game. I don’t even have to feel the anguish of watching the video again to talk about it in detail, because three years later, I still see it regularly on my media feeds social. She doesn’t seem to know if this is a nationally televised sporting event or a sordid one. “Happy birthday mr presidentPrivate type date. ”As the camera pans, we see Chance the Rapper, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, among others, burst out laughing that they can’t suppress any longer. And – as if none of that stuff. wasn’t enough for the long-suffering Black Eyed Peas apologists – she concludes it with a fiercely sudden “let’s play basketball!” it sounds a lot like a 56 year old mom breaking into basketball practice of her son with a tray full of honey-roasted apricot skins. Here, Fergie no longer lives in “three thousand and eight.” She is two thousand years old again and this time no one is laughing with her. They laugh at her. ‘she.

The Black Eyed Peas aren’t the only act that ultimately falls victim to the clock, and time-lapse obsolescence isn’t a new concept. One could even say that the construction is “as old as time”, but as cliché of a sentence as it is, it is very true: as long as time has existed, the inevitable prospect of falling into it is also.

A pre-Black Eyed Peas group that suffered a similar fate were the B-52s, a glam-pop faction known for their radio favorites like “Love Shack”. The first time I heard the music from the B-52s, I was sitting in a Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville, plucking pseudo-spicy fried shrimp while making involuntary eye contact with the person who was seated. closest to a nearby MTV mini screen. . REM’s 1994 single “Star 69” roared over loud restaurant speakers. I liked it, because it reminded me directly of the clean new wave punk that a sixth year listened to me wide-eyed under borrowed headphones; it was the kind of song that filled the soundtracks of dust-covered Xbox 360 skate games in your uncle’s attic, best enjoyed after years of desperate Google searches. When the guitars faded and the B-52’s “Legal Tender” made its way through the sound system, there was a difference you could feel. This time around, there weren’t any angry drums, abrasive call-and-response dynamics, or friendly choruses – it sounded more like Kidz Bop: the vocals were too enthusiastic to possibly be serious. The percussion sounded as if it came from a “Little Tikes” drum machine. In a more literal sense, I hadn’t heard of synthesizers that sounded like this since I received “Kidz Bop: 80s Gold” as part of a McDonald’s Happy Meal when I was eight years old.

As much as “Legal Tender”, with the majority of the music on the B-52s, is brilliant to the point that you can literally get stuck playing all day (trust me: I’ve been in that rabbit hole), my reaction negative had nothing to do with sounds. On the contrary, I reacted as I did because this song spoke a sonorous language which has disappeared both for myself and for the vast majority of the country. There was a day in America where the sound of society was glitzy and delicately packaged, a sonic extension of consumerist pleasures where it was beginning to find its solution. But now, beyond the glamorous days and “Obama pop” spaceships, the sounds that were staged for those yesterdays are just incompatible with the ears that have been there and made that.

When the Black Eyed Peas descended from the AT&T Stadium ceiling on February 6, 2011, they preached that tonight was going to be a good night. Their entire time as America’s futuristic darling was connected with this statement: They wooed their audiences with the mere prospect of a good night, which turned into a decade’s good night’s sleep, peopled with dreams of a utopian future, eternal youth, unprecedented swagger.

But time waits for neither man nor peas. And no matter how good the night is, at some point the dreamer has to wake up.

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