Album Review: BOB - Strange Clouds

4 June 2012 | 5:30 pm | James d'Apice

B.O.B. seems to stumble from error to error. But seemingly, despite this, few are as successful.

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You're not alone. We also find B.O.B.'s success mystifying. From getting Morgan Freeman to say things like “the clock ticks faster and faster while time runs the marathon in this Babylon” to professing his own gentle climate change scepticism, B.O.B. seems to stumble from error to error. On the face of it he's a walking failure. But seemingly, despite this, few are as successful. And none have his budget for guests: on this album, along with Freeman, we get Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Smith, Lil Wayne, T.I. and more. How did it happen?

So Good may hold part of the answer. It is so immediate, so instantly likeable, so disposable that music shoppers as young as seven all the way up to the 13 year olds will be gripped. From the first piano plink it oozes cynicism. And then we get to the “la-la-la-la-la-na-na-na-na-na” bit. Ugh. It's the sort of song a committee might assemble. Out Of My Mind is easily as soulless. There are some pop stars who can pull of the “I'm crazy” shtick because they are compelling performers or because their work has a hint of genius. B.O.B. is not one of them. Cursed to wander the Earth uncharismatic and uninteresting, Bobby Ray's claim of insanity sounds as empty as the premise for the song. The fact he's outclassed tenfold by a wild Nicki Minaj (“Well, you gon' really need a wish right now when my crew comes through and starts shooing stars”) verse helps clarify the issue. Circles is dross. The title track is derivative. Where Are You is an embarrassment.

So how do we account for B.O.B.? How can he be this bad and this successful? We're stuck explaining how. And we certainly won't be listening anymore to find out.