David Guetta – Nothing But the Beat
First up, let’s get this straight: if it really was ‘Nothing But the Beat‘, then there would be no biographical flick coming out.
But it’s not, and there is, so let’s take that at face value.
David Guetta‘s latest offering, Nothing But the Beat, needs to be considered as two separate albums. Disc one is a four-to-the-floor-ophillic compilation that eighteen year olds will rave over, featuring mediocre guest spots from the likes of Will.I.Am, Nicki Minaj, Sia, Jennifer Hudson and Jessie J.
It’s hard to imagine that there would ever be a release that left audiences longing for the comparatively sensible One Love. However, if Guetta truly is a production wizard, then he is akin to T.H. White’s Merlin- one who lives time backwards. His steadily stronger commercial mask is also growing increasingly more rank, and the jump from Pop Life to One Love to Nothing But the Beat is noticeably more generic, if only for the ostensible reason that he ‘cannot look [himself] in the mirror if [he] doesn’t give 100%’.
With such big names featuring on the album, one undeniable problem is that Guetta‘s production style doesn’t allow the artists’ own aesthetic to shine through. It seems instead that each guest is trying too hard to fit the production giant’s vision, and therefore Jennifer Hudson‘s soul, Ludacris‘ flow and even Nicki Minaj‘s regular pop sensibility are smothered within production.
Then of course, throw into the mix musical chameleons in Flo Rida, Taio Cruz, Chris Brown, Will.I.Am and Akon, and you have an arsenal of tracks that your musical palate begs you to hit ‘skip’ on.
Surprisingly through, Afrojack has a hail mary for the vocal album, a remix collaboration with Timbaland, I Just Wanna F, also featuring new-school Ke$ha/Uffie chick DEV. Lyrically the track is as much a trainwreck as one might expect, but Afrojack‘s contribution includes a Dutch synth that’s a welcome break from the otherwise painful remaining twelve tracks.
Disc two, however, is another story.
Labelled ‘the Electronic Album’, Guetta chose to impart nine full originals on this disc rather than lazy instrumentals for the vocal tracks- bar an instrumental of Little Bad Girl.
This facet of the album should be viewed as the real album, and critically, it really is a saving grace. The sound is entirely different from its counterpart, and this is the album that DJs and electro-lovers should listen to.
Guetta flexes his French electro muscles on this album (metaphorically, even though he’s more than happy to do it literally), and does it surprisingly well. Lead in The Alphabeat opens with a SebatiAn-esque synth and backing, a sound which follows quite closely with most of the remaining tracks. Toy Story is a more fun mix that was engineered to appeal to a younger and less jaded audience, but although it’s not a poor track, its characteristic sound sticks out from the flow of the album.
The only problem though, is that Guetta‘s claim to fame is in commercial music. He’s therefore somewhat of a one-trick pony, and it takes a few listens through the entire album for each track not to blur into the next- as few bar Toy Story and the Avicii-guested Sunshine really have their own distinctive sound.
Even viewing both discs severed from each other, it’s still hard to convince yourself that this album is a good one. Whilst the electronic inclusion brings it from gum-on-the-sidewalk status to a more seriously considered LP, there still isn’t enough technical skill on show to definitively say that Guetta lives up to his hype.
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Standout Tracks: Toy Story, Sunshine (co-produced by Avicii), I Just Wanna F (feat. DEV & Timbaland, co-produced by Afrojack)
Summary: Nothing But the Beat isn’t anything new. It’s all been done before, and been done better, but Guetta‘s stamp ensures that millions will be listening to his take. If you chuck disc one in the skip on the way home, you might find yourself with some good electro tracks to enjoy . Or, you could just break out your Ed Banger compilation, and hear how the pros do it.