CD review: Timbaland, "Shock Value"
Gargoyle assistant editor
Posted Sunday, April 8, 2007, The OG, arts
I WASN'T NEARLY as shocked by Timbaland's “Shock Value” as the title promised.
Because Timbaland collaborated with artists ranging from the mainstream Justin Timberlake to the punk-rocking band The Hives to even the oldie-but-goodie Elton John, I was expecting to hear something different, something I've never heard before.
However, I found the majority of songs on this CD boring; though all of the songs were initially catchy, I quickly lost interest halfway through the tracks.
At first I thought “Shock Value” would be like Justin Timberlake's “FutureSex/LoveSounds” in that it would take more than a couple hearings to make a final verdict. However, the more I listened, the more apparent the blandness became.
The flat quality of this album was most apparent in the five songs with accompanying female vocalists: “The Way I Are,” “Boardmeeting,” “Fantasy,” “Scream,” and “Miscommunication.” Though they do have either a catchy beat or a pretty vocal that is at first fetching, the repetitive chorus and melody gets old, fast.
Furthermore, not one of these tracks possesses something extra that makes it stand out from the others. They all centered around the theme of man seducing woman, or woman seducing man, blended together, forming one big mush in my mind.
But what “Shock Value” lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in creativity. “Shock Value” has a dizzying amalgamation of R&B, hip hop, and rock. If this album were a restaurant, it would be Chinatown Buffet — you wouldn't dine there for the quality, but for the wide variety of cuisine.
The surprisingly dark undertone of “Shock Value” came the closest to putting me in the promised state of shock. Looking at the album as a whole, the image of a Gothic church at the heart of a city teeming with menacing, modern skyscrapers set against a gray, sunless sky came to mind. This album as a whole is definitely not a picker-upper.
The songs “Bombay,” “Throw It On Me,” “Time,” “Kill Yourself,” and “Bounce” stand out, mostly because the remaining songs can be best described as nothing remarkable.
“Bombay,” featuring Amar and Jim Beanz, is sung entirely in Hindi, and definitely adds spice and flavor to the album. “Throw It On Me,” featuring The Hives, is one of the only upbeat songs. Hyperactive to the core, “Throw It On Me” effortlessly blends rock and hip hop.
“Time,” featuring She Wants Revenge, a Goth-influenced band, laments about unrequited love: “I'd pay attention if I thought it worth the time/ I told her easy, but her hands they find a way/ confusing passion for the love we never gave.”
Though “Kill Yourself,” featuring Sebastian and Attitude, isn't great with respect to the rapping, the background of eerie angelic choirboys layered with a tinny beat makes it one of my favorite tracks on the album. It's in these two songs that the dark undertone of “Shock Value” surfaces.
“Bounce,” featuring the superstar team of Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake, is by far the best track on “Shock Value.” The witty chorus that describes an orgy goes: “I got the remedy/ It's you on me and me on you/ And you on me and me on you and you on her/ Then her on me and her on you and y'all on me/ Then me on y'all and y'all on me/ Menage a trios.”
A humorous chorus complete with your typically awesomely bold Missy and a heavy, electronic beat will make this song the next big hit from “Shock Value,” after the already popular “Give It To Me,” featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake.
“Shock Value” wraps up rather poorly. The last three songs — “One and Only” with Fall Out Boy, “Apologize” by One Republic, and “2 Man Show” with Elton John — seemed hastily tacked on. I couldn't even find Timbaland on these final tracks.
For example, “Apologize” sounds exactly like the lounge favorite except Timbaland added a beat and a couple of sporadic out-of-tune calls (that may have worked in Nelly Furtado's “Say It Right” but end up sounding ridiculous in this case).
Perhaps the most disappointing part about “Shock Value” is that Elton John doesn't sing in “2 Man Show.” He plays the piano to a gospel chorus and Timbaland's random narration.
Though “Shock Value” is superficially appealing, it lacks a serious amount of depth. It's not one of those albums that will get better every time you listen to it.
However, I do commend Timbaland's creativity, which shows up in the variety of sounds you'll hear on this album. He is one of the first rappers to collaborate with rock groups — a trend I think that many other hip-hop/R&B artists will follow.