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.