For some reason, it’s been one of the most anticipated tracks of the year. Despite the fact that Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. has stepped into prior solo ventures, no-one’s seemed to notice before now. Then again, none of them featured Britney Spears, who somehow manages to get bigger with everything she does.
So here we have “Scream & Shout.” It’s exactly the kind of track you’d expect from will. and Brit… dancy, catchy, jam packed with one-liners. In short, it’s a Black Eyed Peas song without the embarrassing verses from Apl.de.ap and Taboo, and with Britney taking over for Fergie. After massive successes with the B.E.P.’s dance rap, it sounds like will.i.am. has been tweaking and tweaking and finally got it right… or at least as right as he’s ever going to get it. Substituting the pedestrian lyrics of “I Gotta Feeling” for simple, less embarrassing hooks, interpolations of cheesy 80s pop songs in “The Time” for interpolations of Britney’s “Gimme More,” and the ridiculousness that was “Boom Boom Pow” for something human beings can actually follow, it seems that will. has finally figured out how to make a pop song that doesn’t already sound like the parody of itself. There were elements of all of those songs that actually did work, though, and all of those triumphant moments have been incorporated here… like his trademark low-bass robot voice and savvy euphoric builds. It’s not nearly as cool as anything Azealia Banks is doing, but it certainly gets the job done.
Lyrically, the song is what it is. “Scream & Shout” is the same old story about being sexy in the club, and generally better than everyone else, but it’s forgivable. It’s pop music, and the masses really just want something to feel sexy to in the club, anyway. Musically, the track is straight up dance, but it’s current, and really well produced. will.i.am. knows how to create “moments” better than almost anyone in the game at the moment, and “Scream & Shout” is about as momentous as it gets. His most clever moment? Cutting and pasting that famous opening line from Britney’s own “Gimme More” into one of the song’s many hooks (“You are now, now rockin’ with will.i.am and ‘Britney Bitch.'”) In fact, if there was one move more clever than that, it’s sticking Brit into the track at all. She doesn’t do very much, really… she only actually sings about 2 lines, speaks the rest… but this is one of her best showings in years. She jam packs more personality into her background position on “Scream & Shout” than she did on her last 3 albums combined. Her main part, which is spoken in a faux-British accent (it’s “Brit”ish) is borderline unrecognizable…it’s not until she actually sings a note that the light bulb’s gonna go off…but it’s incredibly endearing. Somehow will.i.am. was able to bring something out of her that producers far and wide probably gave up on trying to find long ago. She absolutely steals the show.
“Scream & Shout” is a fine song. It’s certainly better than both of their recent output, but equally as addictive, radio-friendly, and danceable.