Newest Review: ... is similar to many I have heard before and the vocals are uninteresting. In fact the only thing which interests me on the song is the cle... more
I'd Like a Little More Than the Beat Please
Nothing But The Beat - David Guetta
Member Name: rosebud2001
Nothing But The Beat - David Guetta
Date: 22/02/12, updated on 22/02/12 (63 review reads)
Advantages: Star studded list of vocalists, a couple of truly outstanding tracks
Disadvantages: Too much RnB acts collaborate - Guetta could use a different direction
That song revealed Guetta's ability to find a hook and stick with it and also his ability to turn a song into something which can fill a dancefloor. What's always caught my ear about his work is skill in capturing simple emotions in his music and much of it is euphoric and feelgood music which for me anyway, is the heart of dance music.
Guetta himself comes across as incredibly likeable and accessible. I remember seeing an item on BBC News some years ago which revealed him as a man who used flights to Ibiza to continue the party, something I suspect was a publicity stunt but it's the sort of publicity stunt which brings a smile to the face as you see partygoers dancing to his beats 35,000 feat up while Guetta spins his discs.
Guetta of course is now a star following the release of "One Love" in 2009. On that album Guetta teamed up with a host of RnB stars and in the process fused dance music with the top selling music genre of RnB, helping to finally bring dance music to the mainstream in America.
He's taken this a step further with "Nothing But the Beat". I have a huge soft spot for Guetta and much of what he does but there's evidence on this album that while the RnB stuff is commercially successful, it's not guaranteed to be the most credible music on the album.
You can't really blame Guetta for sticking to the same formula as he used on "One Love" as it's been a massive success but the opening track on "Nothing But the Beat" is a true stinker and it's not even vaguely representative of what is to come. Featuring Afrojack, Timbaland and Dev, "I Just Wanna F" is stripped down but most definitely not sexy. The electronic backbeat is similar to many I have heard before and the vocals are uninteresting. In fact the only thing which interests me on the song is the clever use of the alphabet in the lyrics.
Fortunately things do improve and much as I am amazed to say this, it's Akon featuring on the next track which helps. I really am ambivalent about Akon! On "Crank It Up" vocals tally in with the synthesised backing perfectly. Okay it's nowhere near as good as his performance on "Sexy Bitch" but at least the song has the positive vibes I've come to expect from Guetta over the years.
It's no surprise to see Chris Brown on this album after his outstanding blend of RnB vocals on a dance track with "Beautiful People". "I Can Only Imagine" isn't quite as good as that track but it's still rather good. Lil Wayne features on a rap which I personally find completely superfluous - in fact I'd love to hear a heavy trance remix of this with just Brown's vocals which are excellent and Guetta's made excellent use of harmony here which is only spoiled a little by overuse of auto tune.
Usually Guetta's production is spot on but I have to take issue with his work on "Night of Your Life" featuring Jennifer Hudson. Hudson is an outstanding vocalist but her voice is too far down the mix on this song. The only reason I can think of for Guetta doing this is the fact Hudson's vocals don't really tally with the song's lyrics which ooze sex appeal - unlike Hudson's voice.
Guetta's pop sensibilities are more at play on "Repeat" which features Jessie J. It's certainly not the best track I've heard her perform on and unsurprisingly the word which forms the title is perhaps a good description of the song with Guetta making good use of repetition both in the beats and in the lyrics on the song. That's not a bad thing in dance music but it jars a bit with the fact this song has more than just a hint of a pop vibe going on.
Nicki Minaj features on two songs on the album. She's on the hit single "Where Them Girls At" along with FloRida which is a massive dance track. I must admit I am not a huge fan of Minaj's rap style but my daughter loves her - and let's be honest here this music is aimed at young people, not middle aged women like me. I do like her singing voice however and it works very well on this song. I do struggle with her performance more on "Turn Me On" more however - the pacing is a little slower on this track and it's just not one of those songs you can jump up and down to in the way you can with "Where Them Girls At" although the electro backing is interesting. A shame because when Minaj is as good as she was on "Super Bass" she's certainly worth listening to.
The strongest three songs on the album are at the end. Standout track is "Titanium" which features the soulful, almost tortured vocals of Sia. The song was initially set to be peformed by Mary J Blige and her version was leaked ahead of the album's release last year. Much as I love Blige's voice, she cannot hold a candle to Sia on the released version. The song is an ode to inner strength and this is Guetta at his very best with music that truly touches the soul. You can hear Mary J Blige's version on YouTube and while technically she hits the notes she doesn't have the emotion in her vocals that Sia has and the song works so much better for that emotion.
I am a huge admirer of Taio Cruz and "Little Bad Girl" is a wonderful song for his soulful voice with a beat that will get you moving even if you are sitting down. Cruz has a really contagiously enthusiastic tone to his voice when he does uptempo stuff and when you combine this with Guetta's production you have the perfect dance song. Ludacris' rap is equally enthusiastic and the result is the ideal partying song.
From being a huge admirer of Cruz, I have to say I've never really rated Usher in the past. I've found his vocals to be bland and he's never been able to touch me at all. I have to say perhaps I need to listen to him in more depth as his voice on "Without You" is quite simply amazing. There's a depth to his vocals which I find affecting and touching. The song veers from an almost melancholy tone on the verse to a wonderful euphoria on the chorus. I've got to take my hat off to Guetta for making Usher sound interesting on this wonderful feelgood song.
The final song on the album is sadly a bit of a let down. "Nothing Really Matters" features will.i.am, who I like as a producer and writer but find his vocals to be weak. That's not really a problem on this song as he's quite far down the mix vocally except when he raps. It's a pity because you would expect one of the first RnB artists to truly embrace dance music to have created something truly special with Guetta but instead it's merely adequate.
This is a bit hit and miss - Guetta still has that ability to produce a song that touches you somewhere deep inside but he's achieved the most perfect song on "Nothing But the Beat" by eschewing that RnB sound and using a singer from outwith the RnB scene. Sia easily turns in the most impressive vocal performance on the album although I do have to say Usher runs her a not too distant second.
Overall "Nothing But the Beat" is Guetta's nod at the commercial side of the music industry and while I am not going to knock him for that, creatively speaking it lacks something due to the profusion of songs which blend RnB with his dance sound.
For me when Guetta works best he tallies up the desire to dance with something far more meaningful, whether that be a lyric which can raise your spirits, a riff which makes you want to cry or a simple sound which makes you feel joyous. He's only managed to do that with a couple of tracks on "Nothing But the Beat" with the rest being, to my mind anyway, a mixture of the adequate and the average.
In conclusion unless you love RnB music I'd recommend you download the singles - certainly if you had only heard "Titanium" or "Without You" and were expecting more of the same I'm afraid you'd be disappointed.
Summary: When Guetta's good he's incomparable but much of this is formulaic