Art is subjective and fluid. It’s transformed by intent, viewer, and hindsight. So when someone says, “That’s the worst art ever made,” even if they’re right, it won’t be true for you or when put into any other context. Until 2012. In 2012 a vast, well-funded undertaking produced the worst piece of art ever under any circumstances and for all time.
I’m of course speaking about the time Entertainment Tonight commissioned Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas to remix their theme song.
At the time, Will.i.am was a touring, Grammy-winning pop performer and by the show’s estimation “the biggest star in music,” so he was certainly paid well for this project. The show put the full might of its publicity engine behind it teasing it over and over and over with behind-the-scenes segments. Yet with all these motivating factors, when they asked him about his vision for remixing the song, this is all he had prepared:
He was fine with that take and didn’t suggest a second one. They aired it on TV. I don’t think anyone should put their full heart into a behind-the-scenes look at their Entertainment Tonight theme song remix, but this fucker didn’t even think about what he might say during the town car ride to the studio. If he gave a single thought to a single talking point in the make-up chair before the shoot it would have been more professional and coherent than this. He was given hundreds of thousands of dollars, weeks of lead time, and all he had to offer when asked about his remix was “REMIX,” and “WASHED OFF. BUBBLE BATH.” If a birthday clown left with one of your sons and drove into a river, you would say, “There goes a man better at his job than Black Eyed Peas frontman, Will.i.am.”
All videos associated with this monstrosity, especially the finished song, are scrubbed from the Internet as quickly as anyone might link to them. If you’ve never watched it, it’s a grim humiliation. Entertainment Tonight spent so much time and money to make a functional utility jarringly unlikeable. They would have been better off developing a food delivery app that adds “Go back to Mexico” as a special request whenever you order from a Brazilian restaurant. So instead of embedding a video that will be gone before you read this, I’ll be telling the story of the Entertainment Tonight Will.i.am remix through trading cards.
Seriously. What the goddamn shit was Will.i.am talking about with the FRESH manifesto? It’s like an evil gamesmaster put a camera on him and cackled, “Mr. i.am., the bomb you are sitting on is set to go off if you ever stop saying words you loosely associate with FRESH. And your powers are already waning! ‘BUBBLE BATH? FRESH GETTIN’ READY TO GO!?‘ Nonsense! Imbecilic nonsense! Your time is almost u– wha!? The rest of the breakthrough sensations The Black Eyed Peas!? Fergie! Taboo! apl.de.ap!? H-how!? I saw your Best Friends Mystery Van fall into the crocodile chamber!”
To make matters worse, this corny fuck delivers every word with a fruity sass that seems carefully designed to conform to the least generous expectations of an Entertainment Tonight viewer. He drags out each vowel with a head revolution like Whoopi Goldberg reading for the part of “Impatient Airline Passenger.” Is that what he thinks Nebraska grandmas find fresh and def? Because it’s hard to believe Will.i.am walks around all day doing a mean-spirited Jackée impersonation.
Entertainment Tonight knew the final video was him with his hands in his pockets looking like a dumb shit while he listens to the now worse Entertainment Tonight theme song through headphones. And they thought you wanted to see how they made that! Well, guess what, flyover states: they stuck him in front of a retractable green screen while he looked like a dumb shit. Hollywood magic revealed.
Normally when a show gets a new intro song viewers think, “Hey, is this a ne– oh, what’s this any other thing much more interesting?” Entertainment Tonight doesn’t have that same healthy perspective. Entertainment Tonight will bring on three guest hosts for a panel about Dean Cain building a snowman and what it means for the rumors of Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s new Malibu bicycle. They do not have a handle on what’s interesting or important. Obviously, since they thought “Asshole adds drumbeat to theme song” was worthy of weeks of content.
But no one has ever misjudged potential value quite like this. If you left Hooters thinking your waitress wanted to both marry you and invest in your Brazilian food delivery app, you would be better at gauging other people’s interest than Entertainment Tonight‘s producers. These sneak peeks into each and every moment of Will.i.am’s creative process revealed a man attacking a project with all the passion of a Chuck E. Cheese chef assembling a full pizza from unfinished ones. Dogs watch their own gallbladder surgery with more enthusiasm.
“How can I take a piece of American culture and… translate it ’cause you know, that-that theme song… represents families sittin’.” – Will.i.am
The relentless interviews with this bored man each revealed less than the last. There was almost a courage to it, like watching an old man fight his way out of an iron lung to excavate the empty mine that gave him emphysema just 713 more times. But it was also cruel, like holding a gun to a baby’s head and demanding it write a three act play about its filthy diaper. No one should know with such certainty that Will.i.am is an empty-souled idiot, yet Entertainment Tonight spent outrageous amounts of resources to demonstrate only that.
Every few segments, Will would turn to camera and talk directly to the viewers to try to help them wrap their heads around exactly what he was doing. You see, he was taking a theme song, which is a fancy term for a piece of music specifically for a TV show, and making small changes t– you know, I should let him explain. Here’s how he put it (weird pauses are his):
“Nah’m… the re-mixer. Producer. Reeee… flipper? … Spicer-bringer.
For this great.
American. Anthem.” – Will.i.am
It’s important to remember these events were not suddenly thrust upon Will.i.am. He knew this entire procedure would be under scrutiny. He knew he would be expected to speak on the topic of his musical and remixing abilities. But the man is incapable of expressing a single coherent thought about what should be his main area of expertise. He is so bad at this. If Will.i.am and a gorilla speaking sign language were up for the same music teaching job, not only would the gorilla get it, every administrator who came into contact with Will would forget why they ever loved music in the first place. Over the course of these 13,000 behind-the-scenes interviews the only thing I learned about Will.I.am’s artistic inspiration is that it’s functionally the same as flatlining on a toilet. When you are hungover and waiting for a Pop Tart to come out of the toaster thinking, “Almost Pop Tart, headache, butt itches…” you are operating at a higher level than 22 Will.i.ams.
After the editing vultures had picked dry the skeleton of Will.i.am’s stupid fucking sound bites, Entertainment Tonight moved on to the scrapbook slideshows. These were literally severals of photos of people taking pictures of Will.i.am in the same tiny studio as all the interviews. So like a more stationary version of what they’d already shown you, but without any sound. It’s the very limit of what a human mind might call “something.” And to anyone unironically interested in the photos taken during the talking about the making of the 28th revision of an entertainment news program’s theme song: how do you function? Is everything your manatee mind looks upon a fascinating wonder? When you see a triangle do you stop for hours to wonder what it is and how many men it would take to count all its many sides? Will.i.am fans, I am ashamed of my disgust for your effortless contentment.
All of this, all of it, led to the final reveal: forty seconds of an embarrassed man dancing off-beat to a tune you never considered could be ruined. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours were spent on a journey to get a bored channel surfer to think, “Nothing good is o… wait, was that always the song? It sounded shitty as f- oh, rad: Bloodsport! And the kumite hasn’t started yet!!!”