Though he’d been around before 2009’s “One Love,” it’s that album that made David Guetta a recognizable name and distinguished him from other nameless Euro DJs.
Through such tracks as the stellar “When Love Takes Over,” with Kelly Rowland and “Sexy Bitch” featuring Akon, he displayed a canny blend of maintaining the authentic dance beats that made him such a global sensation while bringing in pop and hip hop sensibilities that transported his music far beyond the club floor. Plus, he benefited from great timing in that he comes at a time when pop radio is beat driven.
With “Nothing But The Beat,” he ups the ante for mainstream appeal by enlisting a staggering array of big names, including Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Ludacris, to help him get there. The standard album comes with 13 tracks, while the deluxe set includes six extra instrumental tracks for the club faithful.
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First single, “Where Them Girls At,” featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj is a thumping melange of electro and hip-hop that has already proved a top15 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj returns for the Britney Spears-like “Turn Me On,” which features her singing and rapping.
To be sure there catchy tracks here, but nothing on the set replicates the sheer abandon of “When Love Takes Over.” Maybe it’s a personal preference, but the songs featuring female voices here excel better than the male ones. Jennifer Hudson’s “Night Of Your Life” opens to the sounds of beats lightly bouncing around like colorful dancing polka dots before exploding into a retro-sounding twirler with Hudson belting loud and clear. On “Titanium” featuring Sia (who sounds strangely like Fergie here), Guetta applies a light touch, cleverly playing off the “ricochet” lyric to zoom the sound back and forth from one speaker to the next.
The exception is mid-tempo bouncer “Without U” featuring Usher,” which pushes boundaries for both artists, but “Sweat” featuring Snoop Dogg— and which gives new meaning to the term “head coach”— is the kind of formulaic banger that Guetta can write in his sleep. Same with “Crank It Up” featuring Akon. “Nothing Really Matters” featuring Will.i.am starts interestingly enough, but then devolves into “The Time (Dirty Bit): Part 2” (minus the “I’ve Had the Time Of My Life” part).
Guetta has tried to make this album as multi-dimensional as possible, while still keeping the beats front and center. To his credit, lyrically he wants to stretch far beyond the usual pounding, but it’s as if he doesn’t trust his own instincts. For example, “I Can Only Imagine” featuring Chris Brown and Lil Wayne” starts off as a sweet, propulsive pop song, but Lil Wayne’s rap adds nothing, nor do Guetta escalating, jack-hammer beats. It’s a solid, if somewhat repetitive set, but maybe next time, Guetta will push even further.
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