Steve Aoki — Wonderland

The guy’s earned some cred.

However!Wonderland” stumbles right out of the gate when Rivers Cuomo gets as banal as he does on “Earthquakey People” with the late-song climax, “Don’t be afraid to dance / Don’t be afraid to take a chance!” line. Yes, I realize that it’s been a long time since the Weezer front man hasn’t compromised his earliest, best offerings in some form or fashion, but dammit, every time he signs on for something like this, my love for “Pinkerton” and The Blue Album gets tarnished a little darker.

Unfortunately for Aoki, his lax treatment of Cuomo seems to be the modus operandi on “Wonderland,” which is content to let its guest stars adhere to their most tired respective schticks. LMFAO does its goofy, warped-synth “we live our lives in the Playboy Mansion” act; Kid Cudi gives an uninspired verse, but mostly just says, “Can’t stop / Won’t stop” over and over again on “Cudi the Kid”; and Lil’ Jon literally shouts, “A lot of freaky nasty things are gonna go down!” on “Emergency.” As if he couldn’t be any more explicitly clear.

Add a few tracks that run about two or three minutes longer than they ought to in “Steve Jobs” (with its analog video game melody, it’s a pretty piteous, unimaginative homage to a guy who had a lot of imagination) and the Rob Roy-featuring “Ohh”; some very macho, queasy dubstep; and an out-of-left-field appearance by Die Kreuzen, and you’ve got yourself a pretty unappealing and forgettable dance-pop romp.

I’d declare “Wonderland” a total loss were it not for the lead single “Ladi Dadi” and’s dancehall-influenced contribution “Dangerous,” under his Zuper Blahq moniker. The former doesn’t distinguish itself from any other typically euphoric house song until Wynter Gordon belts a slutty, sludgy chorus that kicks into a low-end oscillating overdrive for the ages. “Dangerous” doesn’t feel nearly as dangerous as “Ladi Dadi,” but successfully translates some Jamaican dancehall elements into a hypermuscular dance track. It’s still a far cry from Major Lazer, however.

So, yeah, I’d avoid this one. It’s useful dance party fodder, but unless your office happens to be a club, there’s little use for it. 

Matt Carney

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