The forthcoming album from will.i.am, lead Black Eyed Pea and tireless trend-rider, is called #WILLPOWER, and yes, the pound sign is intentional; apparently he’s so interested in willing (ha!) himself into the Internet-enabled public consciousness, he’s named his album in the style of Twitter’s “hashtags,” which are used to either conveniently organize chatter about particular topics or to provide compressed metacommentary on one’s tweeted sentiments. The practice of hashtagging also helped coin the name of the subgenre of “hashtag rap,” which Kanye West (perhaps ill-advisedly) takes claim for spawning and which he once defined thusly: “The hashtag rap—that’s what we call it when you take the ‘like’ or ‘as’ out of the metaphor. ‘Flex, sweater red… FIRETRUCK.’ Everybody raps like that, right? That’s really spawned from like ‘Barry Bonds’: ‘Here’s another hit… BARRY BONDS.'” So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that “Hard,” the album’s first single, liberally uses the hashtag-rap trope, with one particularly excruciating verse culminating like this: “this beat is the shit/ feces.” Hey, Ludacris, you should send will.i.am a fruit basket or something!
The song also has guest spots from Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger, who certainly is having what might be called “a year.” First he gets namechecked in a chart-topping Maroon 5 single, then he gets involved in not one but two collaborations that are more embarrassing than his “Dancing In The Streets” cover from 25 years ago?
Surely you haven’t forgotten about SuperHeavy, his “mad alchemist type experiment” with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, A.R.Rahman and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley. It sounds like a particularly awkwardly patched pair of pants. And there’s art by Shepard Fairey! This is what it’s like to have too much time on your hands and too much money to fritter away on vanity projects that top out at No. 26 on the Billboard 200.
On “Hard,” Jagger yelps “you can go hard, or you can go home” over and over while will.i.am’s beat burps in the background.
This song is apparently going to be performed live on this Sunday’s American Music Awards, thus giving us all the chance to see how Jagger physically accompanies his bleating. Will he jump? Will he wiggle his hips? Will it inspire more people to “Move Like Jagger”? Will it be worse than last year’s butchering of “Bang A Gong” by Carlos Santana and Gavin Rossdale? I’ll be liveblogging the whole thing, so watch this space!