The Black Eyed Peas: Then And Now
The Evolution of The Black Eyed Peas
It's no doubt that The Black Eyed Peas have had a drastic change in sound from what they were originally famous for. Many artists make changes to their image and/or sound, but with B.E.P. I feel that the change suffered in the loss of one of the most original bands of the 2000s. Before I go any further, I just want t clarify that I was a fan of them then, and I'm a fan of them now. Now what exactly do I mean by Then/Now? Well, I've decided to split The Black Eyed Peas into three distinct time periods:
Way Back When
Firstly, let's briefly go over The Black Eyed Peas beginnings. This is back when Fergie was not a member of the band. In 1998 and 2000, The B.E.P. released two albums, both of which were commercial flops. To be honest, I haven't even heard any songs from these albums. They're kind of long lost albums. There was only one song that charted in the US from these called "Request + Line" and it peaked at number 63. I'm a fan of the Black Eyed Peas, but not hard-core enough to seek out these albums and listen to them. I do want to check them out one day, but I have a lot of other music on my plate right now. Anyway, this period is fairly insignificant for what I want to talk about.
The next period is when Fergie joins the crew, and when The Black Eyed Peas reached their initial success. Fergie was originally only supposed to be featured in the song "Shut Up" but went on to sing in many other songs on the album before she officially became a part of B.E.P. The two albums I've included in this album are Elephunk, and Monkey Business. Both of these albums were simply so different from anything else to ever have been on the market. They incorporated The Black Eyed Peas own unique style of "phunk" with strange rhymes and often silly lyrics, but catchy all the same.
The first single from Elephunk, titled "Where Is the Love" became a domestic and international hit. While still rather different from the rest of the songs on either album, it was a good introduction for the newly formed band. It was a deep and meaningful song, with an equally touching music video. The song established group into the mainstream and set them up for their many future hits to come. The next few singles "Shut Up," "Hey Mama," and "Let's Get it Started" were also moderate hits at the time but have gone on to become iconic songs associated with the band. Shut Up, although not released in the USA, topped a lot of other charts.The songs were fun and flavorful. They were club friendly and catchy, but not the kind you'd get easily annoyed with. Shut Up is my favorite song from this album.
The first single from the next album Monkey Business was "Don't Phunk With My Heart." The song topped at number 3 in the USA and was fairly controversial due to the word "phunk" often being misheard in the song as f***. The next single Don't Lie was a unique song on the album, perhaps the equivalent to "Where is the Love?" The Black Eyed Peas proved once again that they could not only be fun but at the same time have meaningful lyrics. Of course, the next single "My Humps" (my personal favorite) would say otherwise. While the song was heavily criticized for its lyrics and overall theme, it was a huge hit and even won MTV's best Hip-hop video in 2006. In my opinion, this was the defining song of B.E.P, it's what set them apart from the rest. Sure it was seen as garbage when regarded to real music, but it was a pop anthem, the epitome of pop trash. It was so bad, that it was genius. It is to this day my favorite Black Eyed Peas Song. The next single, and last we'd ever hear before the group transformed, was "Pump It." The song was another moderate hit but received a lot of radio and club play. One song I'd like to mention from the album that wasn't released as a single is "Disco Club," for those who liked the old B.E.P. this song is definitely worth checking out.
A side project of this period was Fergie's solo career with her release of The Dutchess. The album was initially seen as yet another pop trash album but included 3 number one singles in the US (more than any Black Eyed Peas album to date) and other singles charted within the Top 5 as well. This album, was again, very well one. The lead single London Bridge was a unique sound on its own and in terms of B.E.P. and perhaps one of the catchier choruses from the group. Fergalicious was more consistent with their themes, and was another major hit. Glamorous and Big Girls Don't Cry were both major hits, and to a lesser extent as was Clumsy. With the previous 2 albums, I also consider this more or less a Black Eyed Peas album although it's sound was a little more pop than Hip hop or "phunk." London Bridge is my favorite song from this album.
Fast forward from 2006 to 2009, and we come to the next two albums, respectively known as " The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies)" and "The Beginning." I won't go into too much detail with this since it's pretty recent and I'm not too fond with most of the songs. Boom Boom Pow was the first single from The E.N.D. I personally didn't like the song all that much, it was okay at best. Seeing as it was their first number 1 single (aside from Fergie's singles) there must have been something really great about this that was just beyond me. I'm usually into electro/house/dance kinda songs, but this just didn't do it for me. I Gotta Feeling, the next single, did even better and pretty much performed very well all over. Again, I didn't see the appeal for this song either. I don't know what it is, whether I was still into the old-school Black Eyed Peas style or what, but these songs just kinda blended in with any other pop song nowadays. The next single is also my favorite song from the album, Meet Me Halfway. It was a mediocre hit, but finally something that remotely displayed Fergie's vocal talents again. Rock That Body and Imma Be were the last 2 singles, the latter of which also reached number 1 on the Hot 100. They were both "meh" songs for me as well. I'm not saying these were terrible songs, just did not live up to what The Black Eyed Peas did in the past, in my opinion.
The next album, "The Beginning" boded a little better for me. Maybe I was getting used to the new style or something, but I definitely enjoyed it better than The E.N.D. As of yet, it has featured two top 5 singles. My favorite from the album is "The Situation," it has a really retro sound to it which is nice, although it hasn't been released as a single as of yet. Regardless of what I think, The Black Eyed Peas must be doing something right as their music is still hitting charts hard and The E.N.D. is their most commercially successful album to date. Maybe the change was for the better, perhaps if The Black Eyed Peas stuck to their original style it would have eventually lost its luster. Maybe in the future they'll decide to go back to it? I'm still a fan of their music and while I don't enjoy it as much it's still fun to listen to.