Main Forums >> Production - Mixing, Mastering, Gear & Techniques
        Print Thread

Pages: 1
Mike Senior
SOS Mix Specialist

Joined: 08/08/03
Posts: 1429
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Black Eyed Peas: 'The Time (Dirty Bit)'
      #909453 - 20/04/11 09:31 AM
Top mix engineer Dave Pensado likes to say that it’s more important to be new than to be good, and few bands seem to follow this mantra more successfully than the Black Eyed Peas. Ever since ‘Boom Boom Pow’, I’ve been fascinated by the way they treat record‑making like concept art, structuring their music around pure hooks, irrespective of current fashion or traditional aesthetic considerations. Even though I can’t stand this particular single myself, I can’t help admiring their chutzpah: who in their right mind would have even contemplated releasing a cover of such a nadir of ’80s cheesiness? Yet the Peas have pulled off a classic hip‑hop reinvention, taking over the airwaves and causing music execs the world over to salivate at the prospect of some return to those halcyon days of neon‑tinted high consumerism. Not that I’d actually recommend this approach to anyone trying to make a break with their own music, because the scheme’s success seems heavily dependent on the band’s existing big‑league status — anyone else trying to hawk a production like that around the industry six months ago would almost certainly have been laughed out of court.

Personal preferences aside, though, there was one thing about the more dance‑oriented ‘verse’ sections (1:00‑2:00 and 2:45‑3:30) which intrigued me from an arrangement perspective: the way the vocal and lead‑synth parts interact. When the vocal is higher in register, the synth is pitched lower, and vice versa. On a purely sonic level, this probably improves the clarity of the mix to some extent, by keeping the two important parts out of each other’s way — especially effective when the synth moves into its lowest register at 1:45 and 3:15. However, I wonder if this technique might also be a way of highlighting and exaggerating the more subtle pitch contrasts of the rapped vocals in particular, to make them appear more expressive than they are. Whatever your opinion on that point, however, there’s no denying that the pitch variations help keep the basic synth riff closer to the top of the listener’s consciousness, and that simple trick alone is worth considering for your own arrangements.

Recording Secrets for the Small Studio
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator     Back to top
Mike Senior
SOS Mix Specialist

Joined: 08/08/03
Posts: 1429
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Black Eyed Peas: 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #909462 - 20/04/11 09:45 AM
This one I reviewed from the album 'The Beginning'. Here are some credits from the CD artwork:

Written by William Adams, Allan Pineda, Damien LeRoy, Franke Previte, John De Nicola, Donald Markowitz. (The last three are the writers of the 80s original, '(I've Had The) Time Of My Life'.)
Produced by and DJ Ammo.
Recorded and engineered by and Padraic 'Padlock' Kerin.
Mixed by Dylan '3D' Dresdow.
Mastered by Chris Bellman

Still can't quite believe they're getting away with some of the stuff they're doing, but in a general sense it's great to see people pushing boundaries like this.

Another interesting thing that just occurred to me while listening to the track again today, is the way they've made a lot of contrast in the use of pitch-correction/mangling for the different vocal parts. It goes all the way from Robocop through to fairly natural (in Fergie's version of the 80s hook and in the crowd shouts for instance). The whole Auto-tune-tastic thing has lost a lot of its impact these days now that everyone's used it to death, so it's not a bad idea that they've worked hard to freshen up the concept in this way (in terms of it catching your ear), especially as it seems to be turning into something of a Peas trademark.'s rap is a particularly good example of this for me. In fact, in general, it does seem that the Black Eyed Peas put a lot more production effort than most people into making the vocals constantly arresting from moment to moment, something that reminds me quite a lot of Mirwais equally inventive and hyperactive approach to the backing tracks on his work with Madonna.

For more critiques of commercial productions, browse The Mix Review Index

Recording Secrets for the Small Studio
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.

Edited by Jennifer Jones (25/07/11 10:24 AM)

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator     Back to top

Joined: 09/02/08
Posts: 1639
Loc: Leeds, UK
Re: Black Eyed Peas: 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #909532 - 20/04/11 04:06 PM
My favourite part of the arrangement is the glitch-fest in the final section. Would have been easy to just reprise the chorus, but they added extra interest by breaking up and looping the sound just enough to satisfy.

The synths are fat and tasty without overpowering the vocals at any point: at first I was thinking that was probably done like on Gabriel's "The Tower That Ate People" where the top frequencies gradually ramp down then back up, but as far as I can tell it's pretty much static. Nice work on that I think.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator     Back to top

Joined: 02/05/08
Posts: 352
Loc: London
Re: Black Eyed Peas: 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #910840 - 27/04/11 11:49 AM
Re: creative vocal treatments (which I totally agree with), there's a really interesting little overlay in the short section @ about 3'37 - the section of shouting "I'm having a good time wit' you, I'm telling you". There's a very high female-sounding voice, possibly vocoded, or maybe ring-modulated, but it's great!

Anyway, sounds like the 'Peas aren't regretting their purchase of the The Finger... ;-)

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator     Back to top
Pages: 1

Rate this thread

Jump to

Extra Information
0 registered and 9 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  David Etheridge, James Perrett, zenguitar, Martin Walker, Hugh Robjohns, Zukan, Frank Eleveld, SOS News Editor 
Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is enabled
      UBBCode is enabled
Rating: ***
Thread views: 17599

July 2015
On sale now at main newsagents and bookstores (or buy direct from the SOS Web Shop)
SOS current Print Magazine: click here for FULL Contents list
Click image for July 2015
DAW Techniques


Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Blog | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help


Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26


We accept the following payment methods in our web Shop:

Pay by PayPal - fast and secure  VISA  MasterCard  Solo  Electron  Maestro (used to be Switch)  

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2015. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents.
The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media