will.i.am considers himself a good musician, but he is surprisedthat the Black Eyed Peas, the hip-hop group for which he is a member andproducer, has just set a record for spending the most consecutiveweeks atop of The Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Who would have thought that a song with one note and thisweird 'aaaaaaaah' sound would be no. 1 for 12 weeks?" the Los Angeles based producer muses via phone.The song he's referring to is "Boom Boom Pow," this summer's club anthem that became the group's first no. 1 single (surprisingly, "Where is the Love?" and "My Humps" never hit the top spot). "Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis, all those are greatrecords. But who would think that that sound would beat those?"
It is not just the success of "Boom Boom Pow" that hasprompted B.E.P. to set a record. Thesong was knocked out of the no. 1 spot by the band's follow up single, "I Gotta Feeling," which has held the position for eight weeks, giving B.E.P. atotal of 20 weeks in the coveted position.
will.i.am offers several theories to explain how the groupincluding Fergie, Apl.de.ap and Taboo accomplished this feat.
will.i.am was not trying to make a no. 1 record when creating"Boom Boom Pow." If I was trying to make a no. 1 record I would have thought Ineeded some no. 1 chords," will said. "I would have said, 'Such and such went no. 1 with that sound, let me do my version of that sound.'"
Instead, will.i.am made the song with the club DJ in mind. Hekept the music changing in the song to keep the attention of the DJ, whotypically moves onto a different record after a verse or two. "It was made forsharing for DJs to manipulate," he said.
B.E.P.'s international tours to the likes of Brazil, El Salvador, London, Lithuania, and China have helped them hone theiruniversal sound. "Black Eyed Peas are successful in every country on theplanet," will.i.am said. "I am not saying that to sound like a pompous prick,but you have to pay attention to what happens in the world, especially when youare making music for the world." It helps that member Apl.de.ap is from the Philippines andTaboo is Mexican American.
Growing up in a culturally diverse environment had an impacton will.i.am's open mind. He grew up in a mainly Mexican neighborhood, attendedan all Black church, and went to a predominantly white high school. Heconsiders himself a chameleon, a strength that has helped him whencollaborating with other artists.
will likes when people are surprised by his repertoire. Hequotes a typical response from an unassuming fan, "You mean to tell me that thedude that wrote 'My Humps' also co-wrote 'Yes We Can,' 'It's A New Day?' Thesame guy who wrote the Game's 'Compton'freaking co-wrote 'Ordinary People' with John Legend?' That's the same brainthat works for Black Eyed Peas. We benefit from that.'"
Ironically, longtime Black Eye Peas fans will recall themdiscussing their plan for mass appeal on their debut, "Behind The Front" onsongs "Joints And Jams" and album opener "A8."
"It's been a part of my freaking global dominator plan forthe last 11 years," will.i.am said matter-of-factly. "The research is finallypaying off."
Another philosophy on the group's no. 1 coup is the factthat people just love feel good music.
"'I Gotta Feeling' is a song about people stressed out andworried," will explained. "There are no jobs and they are depressed. Theeconomy is [messed] up. People lost their homes. The song gives some type ofhope. Here's something to feel good about. I got a feeling tonight is going tobe a good night because last night was [horrible]."
He makes a good point.