Nerds are both easy and difficult people to enjoy. On one hand, they’re smart and often creative. On the other, they are socially inept and sometimes uncomfortable to be around. This is an accurate summary of the band that shares their namesake.
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of N*E*R*D is as simple as looking at first single off Fly or Die, “She Wants to Move.” The song’s beat is a blend of tribal drums, Spanish guitars, classical-sounding pianos and a few video game noises tucked away in the background. It clashes a bit but also works in its own weird way.
Rather than let you enjoy the song, however, N*E*R*D’s singer Pharrell decides to punctuate nearly every line by yelling, “She’s sexy!” and inserts timeless quotables like “Your ass is a spaceship I’d like to ride.”
Here lies the problem with N*E*R*D. They are relentlessly experimental and in some areas quite brilliant, but the lyrics are so awful it’s impossible not to be bothered by them. The only lines I can remember even remotely liking were found in the song, “Drill Sergeant,” where the word “war” is rhymed with “Barnes and Noble store.”
This is not to say that the vocals are not sometimes catchy… because they are. You can see where Pharrell would be the songwriter responsible for the Justin Timberlake craze, which he almost single-handedly built. I just wish someone had informed him that his lyrics sound like they were written by a girl-crazed adolescent. Maybe then Fly or Die’s full potential might have been realized.
[Drew Atkins can beat you at chess any day of the week.]