will.i.am's New Club Banger "Scream & Shout," Embellished By a Britishized Britney Spears"/>
Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on>"/>
Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.
The hit: "Scream & Shout," by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears, off will.i.am's forthcoming #willpower.
Current chart position: #2 on iTunes, uncharted on Billboard.
The team: will.i.am, who, outside of the Black Eyed Peas, has written and produced hit songs for John Legend ("Ordinary People"), Hilary Duff ("Play With Fire"), Estelle ("American Boy"), and Usher ("OMG"), wrote "Scream & Shout" in collaboration with Jean Baptiste, who has written for the Black Eyed Peas ("Meet Me Halfway"), Chris Brown ("Look at Me Now"), Kelis ("Scream"), and Nicki Minaj ("The Boys"). The Belgian DJ Jef Martens, who goes by the stage name Basto (he's also a rapper who goes by Lazy Jay, most notably featured on Azealia Banks' "212"), shares writing and production credits on "Scream & Shout."
Breakdown: The first song will.i.am penned for Britney Spears, "Big Fat Bass," was the only weak spot on her otherwise stellar Femme Fatale album. The song attempted to fuse together one or two too many different-sounding parts; its strange directionlessness ends up outweighing its more interesting qualities. "Scream & Shout" is also a bizarre song with a nontraditional structure--it's meant more for the club than the radio--but its elements actually cohere together and catch. On the verses will.i.am's robotic vocals match the cold-as-steel tone of Spears', her yowl adds a colorful embellishment to the chorus, and the song is kept constantly moving by the rubbery synth beat (which actually resembles another Femme Fatale track, "Trouble For Me").
"Scream & Shout" is a will.i.am song, but Britney Spears has a way of bringing all of the attention to Britney Spears. Take, for example, this song's most dramatic moment--the beat drops out, all the more to emphasize a sample of Spears' famous "It's Britney, bitch" line from "Gimme More." And I like to think that singing in a quasi-British accent was Spears' idea--back in her messy years she would sometimes speak to the paparazzi in that same voice, a quirk that her naysayers added to their list of evidence that she was going crazy. I see the British accent as something less diabolical, something she did just for fun, to be goofy. I laugh at it in the same way I do all those faces she makes on The X-Factor. Hearing the British accent pop up in this song feels like the equivalent of a playful wink from Britney to her fans--I can still have fun.