With the release of the long anticipated Wonderland by Steve Aoki, I noticed that the principal arrangements of club music are pretty much the same as they were a decade ago, but the vocal work has definitely evolved marking, the reinvention (more like evolution) of the genre. The record is Techno, but there is an abundance of star-studded collaboration with elements of pop and R&B to normalize/even the album out.
Since everything centers around party music, “Earthquakey People” featuring Rivers Cuomo is the perfect track to start it off. While it is loaded with devilish synth, high strung beats and good tempo, the lyrical message is positive: hard times don’t mean you should stop dancing, because you can handle it. Half way through and towards the end, the music gets a bit more creative with the incorporation of static and electric sound-bits.
Unfortunately “Ladi Dadi” is not so great. The classic late 90′s to early 2000 KTU style that flavors the track is boring. Wynter Gordon’s vocals are good but unoriginal and uninspiring. In an overtly sexed-up manner, she unmistakably beckons the object of her affection to have ” a little smoky smoke, tell me a dirty joke up on your roof we don’t need nobody let’s have a little party just us two.” Subtle.
Next up is “Dangerous” with the filtered voice of Zuper Blahq dominating the hype, calling out “dangerous, this beat is dangerous.” Upbeat, synth-heavy arrangements and different progressions indeed set the perilous mood but honestly, the theme is so tired. “Come With Me” arrives to save the day. Deadmeat and Nayer get a lot more interesting. The electronic percussion comes off less distorted and more elaborate, ending in bubble tech. It channels the mix tape Deadmeat released last year and makes me question how much of Steve Aoki is actually responsible for the sound.
Lil Jon, has been everywhere lately, so of course he is on “Emergency” and sounds exactly as Dave Chappell mimicked him – marijuana references and all. Steve Aoki also makes an appearance helping Lil Jon with backup vocals. All the while, Chiddy Bang brings it all together with his awesome rapping, making it the best track and collaboration as well.
No album destined for the club can go without the blessing of LMFAO, the present patrons of party rocking. “Livin My Love” is no exception with LMFAO setting it off with NERVO like “When I wake up still drunk, shoes still on my feet I’m afraid to look at the computer screen.” The track features the best female vocals on the album cause they are cool, playful, feature nice beats and a careless attitude that I really enjoyed.
The momentum of the last three songs gets put on hold with “Control Freak” featuring Blaqstarr and Kay because it’s the same thing as “Ladi Dadi” with regards to vocals and lyrics. “The 80′s” with Angger Dimas doesn’t fare any better. Although it features no vocals, steady beats, electronic drums, acoustic cymbals and some electronic pulsing, the heap of sounds piled one on top of the other is irritating.
“Heart Breaker” doesn’t differ to much from the previous tracks but has cool Lovefoxxx with a robust yet light voice that becomes more prominent as the track goes on. Following is “Cudi The Kid” with suspenseful, squeaky, techno chimes priced by none other than Kid Cudi and Travis Barker. It comes off as rather gangster veiled by transparent techno that elevates the sound; think Prodigy. It stands out for its great musical arrangements.
“Ohh” has a nice vocal intro with a diversely arranged start; LMFAO meets Prodigy with vocals resembling Eminem but it’s actually Rob Roy. If 50 Cent decided to do techno, this would be it. Sick Boy along with former band mates of The Exploited on “The Kids Will Have Their Say” incorporate energized beats with a dramatic flair with distant and distorted vocals causing only vowels to be recognizable especially when yelling happens.
Steve is not reinventing the wheel with Wonderland. His intention is much simpler; he wants the club to enjoy the party. For what this record was intended to do, it is very successful with some tracks better than others. Kudos to him for collaborating with many artists and aspiring to make a diverse record. At times he even exceeded expectations but I would persuade the ladies to be more diverse with their vocals; the breathy full seduction they almost always resort to lost its appeal 10 years ago.
3.25 out of 5
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