Well, Ne-Yo’s making a comeback guys! With his most ambitious album yet!
Okay so that sounds like a tagline for a blockbuster movie but its wholly appropriate as that’s where the 31 year-old is going with the dual singles Beautiful Monster and Champagne Life and his fourth studio album Libra Scale.
Set for release on 21st September, Libra Scale is Ne-Yo’s most ambitious project yet. Packaged with a DVD, it will be a concept album that will see a movie built around the music of the album. A superhero movie at that. An ingenious idea and if I had pop talent, something I would do myself. And what’s more Ne-Yo is doing it all by himself in terms of writing the script and treatment. But creative vision is one thing, pulling it off is another?
Well starting with the positive – Ne-Yo deserves a pat on the back for effort. It’s a clever idea and adds a little more depth to the tracks thanks to the engaging idea. The imagination behind it and the special effects do make this worth a watch.
However, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Ne-Yo should leave the script writing to someone else because the superhero plot-line is clichéd and the dialogue is cringeworthy at best. From the two videos, this is how the plot goes. The Beautiful Monster video introduces us to a character named Jerome (played by Ne-Yo). Clearly, Jerome is a reluctant superhero and a borderline alcoholic (think Hancock). On entering a bar, he mumbles drunkedly at the concerned barwoman when suddenly the televisions go crazy and a beautiful woman with glowing white eyes appears. Going by the name of Diamond Eyes, she’s forced the mayor out of power to take over the city for her own evil means and threatens all those who don’t bow down to her.
The whole town goes into frenzy with one particularly worried man shouting at Jerome for his cowardice in refusing to save them. He throws “crap” at Jerome when really “he should be breaking his own crap at home”, only for Jerome to pull off some of his own impressive superpowers and hit the town. The music then starts and Ne-Yo pulls off a set off neat choreography and superpowers with a loose plotline running through until the end.
The video for Champagne Life continues where Beautiful Monster left off and Ne-Yo is staggering drunkedly through the streets when his mentor, a black guy with a terrible English accent shows up and tells him that he’s lost his way. It’s then flashback time and we discover that Ne-Yo and two off his friends Claude and Leroy were garbage men four years earlier. For some unknown reason, the mentor offers them superpowers and the chance of fame, power and money but the one thing they can’t do is fall in love. The guys laugh the thought of falling in love off and accept these superpowers. Three years later, the guys, known as The Gentlemen (a nod to Ne-Yo’s last album), are enjoying the high life, stopping crime and drinking in plush hotels as the music to Champagne Life plays in the background. But the end of the video looks intriguing because Ne-Yo appears to have caught the eye of a beautiful woman. A woman who bears a striking resemblance to Diamond Eyes albeit less diamond eye-sy and more innocent looking. Oooh, the tension.
Okay the plot is clichéd and done thousands of times before but should keep listeners engaged. The acting is absolutely terrible though! Diamond Eyes’ acting is laughable and over-the-top camp, the comedic scenes fall a little flat and the dialogue, as I’ve already, stated is amateurish and embarassing at best. Plus Ne-Yo looks weird without his hat.
The songs have been unfairly criticised as sounding far too generic but I don’t think there too bad. Nothing original but not the brain killing Auto-Tuned pop currently infiltrating the media. There’s a definite Michael Jackson vibe coming off them though and with the mini-movie music videos, Ne-Yo is taking Thriller as his inspiration.
Check out the Wayne Isham videos below. Do you think this is a good concept that Ne-Yo has come up with or is it just a gimmick?