Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: Timbaland Presents: Shock Value II

Even the harshest critic would concede that Timbaland is a mastermind in the studio. While not a bold statement, it is nonetheless corroborated by his extensive resume of #1 hits, three of which appear on his "solo" release Shock Value from 2007. What made Shock Value such a unique album is the way that Timbaland employed artists that had been pigeonholed by their genre, bestowing upon them a new lease on life, provided they don't mind being blasted by every nightclub in the world.

Shock Value II = Shock Value I + Autotune. Depending on how that equation strikes you, Timbo's newest project will evoke thunderous groans or applause. The actual product is somewhere in-between. While an incredible talent, Timbaland certainly has his weaknesses. First, he is an abysmal rapper. This is clear from the first song "Carry Out" with Justin Timberlake, where the pair compare sex to fast food (blech) and inexplicably try rhyme "errors" with "areas". Handicapped by such an awful opening song, the album spends the rest of the first half trying to dig itself out of this hole. Miraculously, the rest of the songs on the first half of the album are surprisingly strong, mostly because Timbaland is resigned to chorus duty and "HEY!'s", allowing the songs to be admirably carried by the previously insufferable Jojo, Miley Cyrus and CHAD KROEGER of all people. If Timbaland is able to make a Chad Kroeger (of Nickelback, in case you weren't sure) song that doesn't elicit instant nausea/laughter, he truly is a genius. Most notably, songs like Lose Control, Morning After Dark and Can You Feel It? capture the energy and innovation of the original Shock Value. Sadly, Timbaland cannot help but mess with a good thing.

The precipitous descent into terrible starts with Undertow, a blatant ripoff of the song Apologize from his last album. Before you even have a chance to check the song title to make sure you're still listening to Shock Value II, Timbo dives into the ballad-rap travesty that is Timothy Where You Been. To call this song an embarassment is like calling a tornado a breeze. The song is mind-numbingly awful, and immediately followed by a third and FOURTH ballad. Whomever decided on the sequencing of the album, needs to find another line of work. In a last ditch effort, Timbaland attempts to perform CPR on himself on the last two tracks, but the damage is done. What started out with focus and a refreshing playfulness, has completely devolved into incomprehensible mush. Sad.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think this is a fair assessment of the album. Once in a great while are albums truely great all the way through. Your equation of SVII equalling SV+Autotune is accurate but I disagree that it's a huge problem. I assert that the title of the album gives the whole endavor away. It's not called something else because it isn't something else. SVII is a follow-up in the truest sense of the word. It doesn't break a lot of new ground but treads on some familiar turf. While I'll agree that autotune is becoming overplayed (what will Lil' Wayne do?!), I think Timbo uses it to good effect in some of his songs here. I completely agree that the balads are too much but since when have we come to expect to love an entire album?! If a few of the hits on any album become runaway hits, that's a success, and surely at least a few of these will.

    Lastly, I think you're baised by the genius of Lil Wayne's rapping. LW's work isn't always great to dance to but it doesn't seem like great club music is what he's going for. Timbo, on the other hand, often goes for the more "dancy" numbers on his albums. Of course Shock Value also included some not-for dancing weird numbers, but the album was great in total. Some great rappers (Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Timbo) are often at their best when doing the chorus on other people's songs. I personally don't mind the collaborations on SVII.

    Oh, also, I did not like many songs on SV at first but they really grew on me over time. I think you should give SVII another look after listening.