The Black Eyed Peas' new disc, "The Beginning," is one of only a few albums in history to be numbered among Oprah's Favorite Things, but she also chose Ugg sparkle boots, so she's been wrong before.
It's easy to see why "The Beginning," a sequel to last year's "The E.N.D.," was hearted by Oprah: It's shamelessly, painfully catchy neo-futurist party pop. It grates as often as it entertains, but it does entertain, never missing an opportunity to bludgeon where it might caress.
Parts of it are god-awful. Actually, most of it is. The lurching "XOXOXO" has lyrics so stupefyingly bad ("Girl you stole my heart like a klepto/Butterflies in my tummy need Pepto/Bismol baby give me more sex though/Insure pleasure like I'm gecko"), it's embarrassing just listening to it. "Love You Long Time" might be borderline offensive if it had any point at all.
The Peas clearly fancy themselves as visionaries, and in so much as most acts would not conceive of a world in which "genitals" could be made to rhyme with "aboriginal," they kind of are. And they're not without talent: "The Time (Dirty Bit)" credibly fuses space pop to a sample of the "Dirty Dancing" theme "(I've Had) the Time of My Life"; "Fashion Beats" expertly weds golden-era disco and electro-funk. They're a welcome respite from the rest of "The Beginning," which often seems little more than a hastily stitched together assemblage of bad puns, robot bloops and Auto-Tune that never ends.
Recommended tracks: "The Time (Dirty Bit)," "Love You Long Time"