To be completely honest, I avoid the radio like it’s the plague. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to ruin a good song by hearing it too many times, and other times I just plain hate whatever new single is making tweens pant. But even I can’t ignore David Guetta.
Hailing from France, this DJ turned producer has blown up to be the face of every club and radio station that has ever played I Gotta Feeling. His influence on American pop music really can’t be understated, and this is coming from the guy who cringes every time he hears a Black Eyed Peas song.
What really grabbed our attention was when he started producing songs like Sexy Bitch that were new and exciting, adding elements of electro house that hadn’t really been presented until then. But as always happens with something new and popular, it got copied and pasted to the point where almost every new single sounded at least somewhat similar to this mega-hit. Just like that, the music that David Guetta helped make so popular in the States became commonplace and overplayed.
All of this brings us back to today. With Nothing But The Beat set to drop on August 30, Guetta stands poised to reign as king for the next year. Featuring a guest list that includes A-listers such as Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Akon, will.i.am, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, and Flo Rida, his new album reads like a club DJ’s wet dream. While not all of the songs on Nothing But The Beat are hits prepackaged for the club scene, a majority of them are energetic enough to keep the album from being a failure.
The opening duo, Where Them Girls At and Little Bad Girl, really don’t require any introduction as they’ve been running the charts for months. The former features a beat similar to Sexy Bitch with a verse from Minaj that’s crazy enough to redeem the repetitiveness of the song, while the latter keeps the energy going but doesn’t really stand out apart from a small cameo from Ludacris. Both songs are exactly what you would expect from David Guetta, and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on the listener.
Keeping the energy high, Turn Me On gives Nick Minaj her chance to absolutely shine, easily making this song the highlight of the first half of the album. The trade off between trance-like moaning and the pounding chorus keep the song flowing without being overly repetitive. As is usual with Minaj, she makes good use of her eccentric singing style to create a bridge that should be pumping out of club speakers any day now.
Snoop Dogg follows this up with Sweat, a song that will most likely lead to creepy club sex, but meant in the best way possible. Guetta’s beat is downright sexy, ebbing and flowing perfectly with Snoop’s question of “Tell me, baby, are you wet?” Who would have thought that Snoop Dogg would take the “Song Most Likely To Induce Public Indecency” award on this album?
Now that the energy level is high and the sweat is flowing, the album slows down on Without You, a song anchored by Usher’s beautiful vocals. Guetta lays down a competent beat that swells at the right times while also showing the perfect amount of restraint, allowing Usher to take control with his smooth performance. Although it’s in a weird place on the album, the song itself is well done, and will definitely grow on listeners after a few listens.
And now we enter the second half of the album. Obviously, in numerical order this isn’t the halfway point, but it is the point where the album begins to slide downhill. Beginning the downward spiral is Nothing Really Matters, the will.i.am led track that simply isn’t that good. Again, Guetta’s beat, although unremarkable, is competent, but will.i.am’s performance is weak. The chorus is way too repetitive and unimaginative (“In a club/nothing really matters”), leaving it as a track that doesn’t do anything for the album.
Seeing Lil’ Wayne’s name on the guest list got me really excited to hear what he could do with Guetta backing him, but I Can Only Imagine is a pretty big letdown, featuring weak verses from both Chris Brown (he beat Rihanna…just saying) and Weezy, but another beat that completely washes out the vocals in a good way. With these tracks, Guetta proves that he knows his way around the boards, but the vocalists are doing little to contribute to the hard work he put into his beats.
Picking up the slack a little is Crank It Up, a song that finds Akon reuniting with Guetta in a song that, while not as good as Sexy Bitch was a few years ago, is still catchy as hell. Akon definitely knows how to keep his songs from feeling stale, and with Guetta backing him this song is boosted to possible single status. While this song helps make up for the past few failures, the next track is where the album gets weird.
I Just Wanna F features Timbaland and Dev going back and forth about creepy drunken sex, but the lyrics are what make or break the song. The first few times I heard this song, I had no idea what to say about it. I don’t know if these lyrics are clever and playful or just painful.
Let’s just say I’ll never hear the alphabet again without imagining some sort of crazy sex involving Timbaland and a stuffed animal. It’s sad that the lyrics are so stupid because the beat that Guetta presents is the best on the album. Featuring some crazy drum beats and eclectic blips, fans owe it to Guetta to check out this song at least once.
Following the aforementioned ear raping is Night Of Your Life, an easy contender for the best song on the album. With Jennifer Hudson on vocals duty, she gives an absolutely stunning performance in front of Guetta’s knob-work. Her soulful delivery soars over the club beat, creating a song that I could dance to for a day straight.
Repeat finds Jessie J singing in front of a beat that’s pretty lifeless, just like the vocals that take front stage. Although not a terrible track, Repeat just doesn’t do anything special to stand out and ends up blending in to the pulsing beats as indistinguishable from other, better songs.
Finally, as we reach the end of the album, Sia makes an appearance on Titanium. Although this song is definitely a black sheep, this is not a bad thing, as the beat slows down enough to give Sia her chance to deliver a heartfelt performance over a slowly rising cacophony of electronic music. Despite the dip in quality towards the middle of the album, these last three songs round out the album in a satisfying way.
However you may feel about the first disc, fans of any type of electronic music owe it to themselves to check out the second disc of Nothing But The Beat. Loaded with nothing but instrumental tracks, this is where Guetta truly gets to shine. With the spotlight taken off his various guests and focused squarely on him, he crafts some great beats that aren’t held back by lackluster vocal performances.
Songs such as The Alphabeat and Metro Music keep the energy going, with heavy bass and crazy sound effects playing off each other to create some truly original tracks. Even the instrumental version of Little Bad Girl gives us the chance to hear just how great the beat is when it’s not being overshadowed by Taio Cruz.
The track that takes the cake, however, is Toy Story, if only because it sounds like a Daft Punk b-side or remix. The synth lines are pretty crazy and it stands on its own as a strong track that showcases Guetta’s solo talent.
So as a package, is Nothing But The Beat any good? To anybody looking for some mindless pop music, the first disc is solid gold. Half of the songs featured on it will most likely be topping charts in the next few weeks. For the fans looking for some old school Guetta, the second disc is the way to go, featuring instrumentals that make up for the downfalls of the first disc.
Overall, Nothing But The Beat is neither good nor bad. Some songs are catchy, others are just big piles of blah. Listeners could do worse when looking for their electro fill, but just remember that behind the auto-tuned rotation of faceless guests, there’s a truly talented DJ who did great on his own before. Now go dance before someone dethrones him.
Nothing But The Beat was released on August 30th, 2011