[4 August 2011]
PopMatters Interviews Editor
If you’re contemplating buying an album called Sorry for Party Rocking, then let’s be honest: you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Sure, much can be made of LMFAO’s musical lineage (although they go by the stage names of Redfoo & SkyBlu, the duo of Stefan Kendal Gordy and Skyler Gordy are actually the son and nephew of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy), they tend to not make much of a fuss about it, instead focusing on their gloriously hedonistic summation of the Europop boom of the late 2000s, where simple synth hooks are married to steady, club-friendly beats so that a party (or, in some cases, party-rocking) may ensue. The fact, the fact that Lil’ Jon guested on their 2009 debut, Party Rock, surprised absolutely no one.
Yet Party Rock was not a huge hit. A few minor singles popped up here and there (ranging from the hard alcohol ode “Shots” to the somewhat sweeter “La La La”) and the group wound up even scoring a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album, but greater success eluded them. Yet once the group began making the guest rounds, they suddenly realized there was much to be made with the dance-centric nature of pop music these days, something best exemplified by their David Guetta collaboration “Gettin’ Over You”. That song was a gigantic worldwide smash, and as such, the duo dropped the frat-anthem nature of Party Rock in favor of a much slicker, much more mainstream sound for the group’s sophomore effort, Sorry for Party Rocking.
That said, Sorry for Party Rocking remains a remarkably dull album. Non-stop party albums of this nature always stumble for the same reason time and time again: you can only put so many songs back-to-back with the same tempo and expect to have anyone still interested by the time you get to track 14. Although yes, it’s obvious that the LMFAO guys love partying, there are only so many ways you can deliver variations on that theme and still sound fresh and original (this is what did in Andrew W.K.‘s career, recall). Even with the notable group of guest stars the guys assembled (will.i.am, Busta Rhymes, Calvin Harris), that doesn’t help change the “been there, heard that” mentality that plagues the disc.
Things start off interestingly enough: after a painfully humorless comedy intro and a title track whose chorus cops just a few too many notes from “Blue Monday”, we then get treated to “Party Rock Anthem”, a track that has been a global No. 1 hit for very obvious reasons: an insistent keyboard hook, a feel-good atmosphere, and one hell of a funky synth break during the verses. Although the guest spot from British singer Lauren Bennett is so minimal it’s almost forgettable (her contribution? “Get up / Get down / Put your hands up to the sound”—repeated ad nauseum), it doesn’t detract from the fact that the group found a huge, stadium-rocking chorus and just ran with it as far as it could possibly go. They’ve devised catchy choruses before, but have never delivered them with as much style and ease as they do here.
Throughout the rest of Sorry for Party Rocking, we get other glimpses of the duo’s melodic genius, ranging from the strutting “Sexy And I Know It” to the gloriously tossed-off disco goof “Hot Dog” (which doubles as their album closer). One of the most sonically daring tracks on the album—the cut-n-paste club funk of “With You”—is slapped on near the end without much regard, which is a shame, given it features some of the group’s most autobiographical lyrics—is easily their best production showcase on the disc (which is a fair tradeoff within the group dynamic: Redfoo handles production on virtually every track while SkyBlu is, in turn, a far better rapper—but still not necessarily a “great” one).
It’s just a shame that after you separate out those unique and special moments, the rest of Sorry for Party Rocking is drab, boring, and sometimes downright inane. “Champagne Showers” is a largely forgettable attempt at creating a rave track, while the loopy, hookless synth squiggles of “Take It To the Hole” tend to exist only so that Busta Rhymes can prove he’s still somewhat relevant in this day and age (result: he is—kind of). From there we have the drab strip club-ready tune “Take That A$$ to Work”, the utterly generic Euro-bounce of “Best Night”, and “Reminds Me of You”—one of the limpest guest spots Calvin Harris has ever committed himself to (which is genuinely surprising given his track “The Girls” seems to be exactly what LMFAO have been aspiring to sound like for years).
In the end, the group’s numerous half-baked dance tracks and casual misogyny wind up wearing thin on the listener, making their truly great moments (“Party Rock Anthem”, the looser, fun tracks tacked on at the end), get buried in a Technicolor sea of mediocrity. The group will no doubt spin off a few more successful singles from this disc, but if they continue down a path of unimaginative club filler, then party rocking won’t be the only thing they’ll be sorry for.