November 29, 2012

Here’s some pop math to figure out: Does one (1) will.i.am cancel out six (6) Britney Spears? Does one side of the scale tip more, or does the potential value of anything self-immolate as soon as the Black Eyed Peas frontman is introduced to the mix? (Technically, there are more, but that’s all I’m willing to acknowledge.) Not to hate on will.i.am, who may have helped write the lyric “I’m so 2008 / You’re so 2000-and-late” and is thus insulated from any and all criticism forever, but there’s nothing worse that gums up a promising song than one of his phoned in Autotuned hooks, which are all over his collaboration with Britney on “Scream and Shout.” Just as you think the song and video start out promisingly enough—hey, here’s a half-dozen vamped up and robo-dressed Britneys sneering over a beat ripped from a tape of Knife B-sides—will.i.am comes through like an unwanted, confusingly groomed Kool Aid Man to do his whole futurist pop thing. A Britney-only edit would sound better, if not any number of her other songs. But that’s some math you’ll have to calculate on your own.

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