The fantastic 4 

While you're sleeping, Taboo is break dancing, Will.i.am is making beats on a Gulfstream V, Apl.de.ap is on the rooftops administering vigilante justice, and Fergie's enthusiasm is powering the Eastern Seaboard. They are the Black Eyed Peas, and they have assistants who sleep for them.

Not all of that's true, but it sure seems like it could be. Are they even human anymore? BEP have sold millions of albums worldwide with a fusion of hip hop, pop and superficial excess that rivals most energy drinks in its potency. They're a one-stop shop, a bonanza of easily digested instant gratification. Of course, like most energy drinks you get the sense that, for all of the group's stupendous dance moves, shiny fabric and lighthearted rapping, what you're really seeing (and hearing) is clever marketing; A&M's balance sheet in kinetic motion. But they're so vibrant, and happy, and happy about making you happy that they're nearly impossible not to like. The Black Eyed Peas are like the Justice League with a boom box and better outfits.

And now they're an international entity, these three dudes who dance like the wind and a wild orchid who looks like the Sunday comics. They win bake sales. Inspire vanity license plates. Pick up your dry cleaning. Put out fires. They find the best in all of us, then sample it and pay us royalties. In 2005 alone, there were 850 babies named Apl.de.ap, and five chocolate busts fashioned in Fergie's likeness. It's true: everyone's crazy for the Black Eyed Peas, our new superheroes.

That's the way it should be. After all, they've given us so much. "My Humps," for example, a song so unnervingly stupid it becomes genius. Like a ringtone in reverse, it's aggravating at first, then suddenly wonderful. Its beats pop like flashbulbs, and Fergie's body image fetishism sounds like the night terrors of an anime heroine. "My Humps" is pop music broadcast from the end of the Internet, an immaculate convergence of 10,000 downloads of every sound and style. Like the Peas themselves, it's all things to all people and conveniently for sale to all of them too.

But who doesn't want to buy a little happiness? And besides, every dollar spent on BEP is put right back into the group's fancy hat fund. Sure, "My Humps" sounds good. But it feels even better when you realize that your download fee has helped ensure that Will.i.am is never without a perfectly spangled green felt porkpie for any occasion. And you'll be watching the arrival preshow for one of those occasions when will, his hat, and the Peas get there. This means that when you click to purchase "My Humps," you're not just buying a song. You're purchasing a share in your own entertainment future.

Yes, the Black Eyed Peas have got you spendin'. But they've also got your back. For the price of a download the Black Eyed Peas offer valuable information on how and where to get it started, when to pump it, and why you should never, ever phunk with someone's heart. Come on, seriously, where is the love?

Superheroes used to ignore mortality. They used to laugh at it, flying above us in their Teflon spandex. But recently superheroes have had their humanity exposed. Spider-Man is now a conflicted headcase who can't close the deal with Mary Jane, Batman's been revealed as nothing more than a wealthy white ninja with a chip on his shoulder, and the latest Superman probably has a life coach stashed back at the Fortress of Solitude. We need new superheroes, and the Peas are here to save the day. Firing Elephunk from their fingers they fly into action, dancing and rapping and singing in a blur of Gordon Gartrell threads and platform vinyl, a bulletproof pop experience powered by hip hop and razor creases. They're a remote with the fast-forward button permanently pushed down, a four-headed bauble of bling. Black Eyed Peas are coming to town, and when they get here they'll help you believe in a world full of ingenious marketing opportunities and Jack Johnson magically singing every sick child a lullaby. The Black Eyed Peas are the new model heroes, better than the old versions. Want proof? No one in the Justice League could break dance, and Taboo still is.

 

At 7 p.m., Thursday, May 4, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611; with the Pussycat Dolls and Flipsyde.

Johnny Loftus is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to jloftus@metrotimes.com

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