“Everybody have fun tonight, everybody have fun tonight,” will.i.am sings during “Hello,” the first track on his fourth solo album, #willpower. If that sounds boring and uninspired, well, welcome to a whole album of boring and uninspired anthems. I’m talking about songs so horrifyingly bad that they make even the worst songs he’s done with Black Eyed Peas sound brilliant by comparison. It’s honestly hard to believe this guy has won seven Grammy and eight American Music Awards. This is easily the worst album I’ve heard in years. It’s probably even the worst album I’ve heard in the last decade. To be fair, I’ve never been fond of Black Eyed Peas, so I suppose I was biased against this, but then my expectations were so low that I actually thought that I might be pleasantly surprised. (On a related note, I will freely admit to loving Fergie’s solo album and I sincerely hope she does another one soon.)
If there’s one positive thing I can say about this album it’s that it has an interesting cast of characters with everyone from Britney Spears to Juicy J to Skylar Grey. Then again, it also has Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus, so it’s not as though Will has surrounded himself exclusively with talented folks. The funny thing is that his auto-tuned vocals are so horrifically bad that Bieber and Cyrus actually sound impressive alongside him. As for his more talented guests, I’m pretty sure they’ll all ultimately consider these collaborations to be the lowest point of their careers.
There’s no denying that Britney Spears has done some really bad songs over the years, but her turn here is laughably bad. “You got to turn this shit up,” she sing-speaks over and over, donning a fake British accent, during “Scream And Shout.” And yet getting Britney to do a fake British accent was probably the most creative decision will.i.am made while making this album. It’s still terrible though. Even cheesy Britney songs like “Dear Diary” and “E-mail My Heart” are leagues above this.
Will spends much of the album plagiarizing himself. “Great Times Are Coming” sounds like a cross between “Where Is The Love” and “The Time (Dirty Bit),” for example. Meanwhile, “Hello” and “Reach For The Stars” sound like a rip-off of every hit single Black Eyed Peas has ever had. And when Will isn’t plagiarizing himself, he tries very hard to plagiarize plenty of other artists. “This Is Love” featuring Eva Simmons sounds like a failed attempt to copy the sound of David Guetta’s last album. Actually, the beats here are tolerable, but Will’s hip-hop delivery is tired and sure to grate on your last nerve. “This is love for the orchestra, violin, cello,” he raps at one point. Maybe he should have tried using some of those here? It might have managed to give the song a bit of depth. Getting back to the plagiarism, the most obvious rip off here is “Fall Down” featuring Miley Cyrus, which sounds awfully similar to Ke$ha’s “Die Young.” Although Ke$ha is a master thespian compared to these lyrics. “You can be my lollipop, let me, let me, lick you up,” Will raps to Cyrus and, yes, it’s entirely gross.
There is a punchline here at least — these songs sound exactly how awful people who don’t listen to will.i.am think he sounds.