First, the fact: will.i.am’s new album is seriously going to be called #willpower. That fact can be unpacked much more than such a dumb stunt deserves. I could finish that intro and write big, long paragraphs, but in the spirit of the stunt, I’ll keep it to TwitLonger proportions. #letsgo
- How will.i.am has effectively gone one step beyond everyone who spams Twitter with “retweet my crap!” and gets their fans to dutifully retweet their crap by actually making the hashtag the album title. It’s the album-title equivalent of Macy Gray showing up to a premiere– where she knows she’ll be photographed a ton because everyone does, and that she’ll be photographed even more tons if she looks bizarre because thanks to her off-kilter single and voice, “Macy Gray looks bizarre!” was a really attractive story to get–wearing basically a billboard saying “MY NEW ALBUM DROPS SEPT. 18 2011.” As ridiculous self-promotion goes, this is definitely on some next-level shit.
- How the Black Eyed Peas in general–who, as of right now, aren’t really on enough of a hiatus not to play shows–and will.i.am in specific are just as much, if not more, about their own creative-director style innovation and/or gimmickry these days as their music. Screwy light shows, robot costumes, hashtag album titles. We use Getty Images for some of our photos, and I’m on the search-results page right now and I can seriously download a close-up of his shoes, which are black and covered with spikes like Bowser’s shell. This isn’t a new observation. It’s probably a large part of why people hate them so much–nobody wants to be accused of liking style over substance. It’s probably going to be the case here.
- How, because of that, it’s just so inevitable that will.i.am would be the first to the trend. He generally is. “Boom Boom Pow” was the beginning of a lot of songs sounding almost exactly like “Boom Boom Pow.” “I Gotta Feeling,” which you already know is their collaboration with David Guetta one single later–both got called “a new classic” by would-be highfalutin’ sites like Slate and is almost singlehandedly responsible for David Guetta producing 33% of pop music these days. Of course he’s the one to hashtag his album title. Who else would do it, except maybe someone like Lil B or Soulja Boy(tell ‘em dot com)?
- But then again, how will.i.am is really, really fucking late to the trends on solo single “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever).” The acronym title rips off a lot of people, too numerous to list; the telling ones are The Throne (“H.A.M.”) and himself (The E.N.D.). But it used to be “Hard,” so it’s not news that it has Mick Jagger, he of the year’s trendiest name and Jennifer Lopez, whose mainstream comeback isn’t as current as advertised; it’s still pretty much limited to the (admittedly massive, globally too) “On the Floor,” Idol and divorce. Oh, and it’s co-produced by Dallas Austin, who’s so far behind today’s trends as to be retro.
- How bizarre, and kind of awesome, it is that everyone’s accepted hashtags, a really weird and really, really nerdy punctuation convention. I mean, they started out in IRC chatrooms, which are still around and still defiantly old-school techie. (They’re where 4chan types hang.) It’s almost always the case that people try to dumb down or smooth over vestiges of the old, geeks-only, design-free Web 1.0 world because it’s supposedly offputting to regular folks, but apparently not! This has nothing to do with will.i.am, who probably doesn’t give a shit about any of this. It’s still interesting.
- How equally bizarre it is that people are mostly fine with hashtag rap now. Like, this shit used to be a punchline–I cite this all the time because really–on Young Money’s “BedRock” where Gudda Gudda goes, “And I got her–grocery bag.” But now it’s more like one of those things that you only criticize if you’re going to criticize the artist/song in question. Gimmick of an album title? Sure, snark about hashtags. Hypey song like “Countdown“? Hashtags are A-OK! And if you’d said that a year or so back, people would start complaining about future kids-these-days.
- Whether anyone’s really going to pay attention to the hashtag when writing about Willpower or ignore it like they do for lots of brand weirdness (T-Pain’s album Revolver, M.I.A.’s album Maya, etc., any time a company like, say, Wal-Mart switches up the symbols in its name) It’ll hopefully be the latter, considering my last point:
- How will.i.am seriously named his new album after a hashtag. I mean, really.