The Black Eyed Peas have broken up in all but name. Their successors LMFAO are in the midst of an unspecified hiatus. Who will rise from the party-rock ashes to take the mantle of Most Aggressively Dumb Act In The Game? A year or two ago, we would have laid good odds on former Pea will.i.am to ease comfortably into the role, but Will's ascension to the top spot has been unexpectedly fraught, for a bunch of reasons.

With "Scream & Shout," though, Will comes closer than he ever has before to fulfilling the promise of his Black Eyed Peas career. The Britney Spears collaboration, released last week, is an instant dumb-rock classic, packed to the gills with so many musical bits and baubles that it becomes nearly impossible to tell how empty and contentless that whole thing is. (If you're a fan, you can vote for it in this week's Pop-Off!) Just how amusingly vacuous is it? Well, we ran the song through our patented Lyrics Breakdown regimen, to see!

Bring the action

Will bursts out of the gate with this quasi-robotic intro (there are a lot of quasi-robotic things about this song). Does it mean anything? Not really, it's a placeholder phrase two steps above cliche. But does it get you pumped? Of course it does! This isn't just a song we're about to hear—this is action.

When your hear us in the club

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

When we up in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

Britney takes the opening vocal and unveils on it a surprising British accent, whose origin we can't quite place. But there's an iciness to her performance, underneath the ridiculousness, that works with the voice she's pulling. Britney hasn't shown us "vulnerable" since at least 2004, but the brazen come-ons of her later work can sometimes feel disingenuous. That's not the case here, thankfully, since English imperiousness is a good look for this kind of boasting,  certainly better than the fratty jabbering of LMFAO's "I'm in Miami," which Spears and will.i.am are at least somewhat biting here.

See the boys in the club

They watching us

They watching us

They watching us

Everybody in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

But, as often happens in will.i.am songs, sometimes the man can overuse his hooks. That's the case in this opening, which Britney goes on for four stanzas repeating the same idea over and over again.

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We've arrived at the chorus, and lyrically there's not much going on here besides a subtle lift from Tears for Fears (or is it an homage?) But that doesn't matter so much in a song like this, which relies more on the ecstatic rise of the vocals than it does on any grand lyrical statement. Will.i.am of course doesn't have the best range, but he's covered that up with a sneaky choice: bringing Britney in for the second half to sing a high harmony, which gives the chorus a dynamism it would have lacked had Will tackled it solo.

You are now now rocking with will.i.am

And Britney, bitch

Following that chorus comes the song's high point, this silly little pre-drop hook that oozes more personality than some Black Eyed Peas songs have in their entire runtime. Think of how perfectly the phrase "It's Britney, bitch" encapsulates Spear's post-2007 career. Those three words kicked off her infamous 2007 VMAs performance and alongside failed comeback single "Gimme More," became something of an ironic catchphrase for unearned swagger. And yet, Britney stuck by it, never straying far from the Queen Bitch cockiness embodied in those lines. Now, her comeback complete (and with more hits since 2007 than Bubblegum Britney managed) the line is something of a trademark for her, with the confidence to know she doesn't even have to speak the words any more. Instead, she simply simply plays back the old recording: "Remember when you used to laugh at me? Look how much has changed."

Rock and roll

Everybody let's lose control

On the bottom we let it go

Going faster, we ain't going slow-low-low

Hey yo

Hear the beat, now let's hit the floor

Drink it up and then drink some more

Light it up and let's let it blow

But, given that this is a will.i.am song, the man has to make a sustained appearance sometime, and he finally gets his moment to shine in this verse. The results, to say the least, are not overwhelming in their poetic beauty. The lyrics're not horrible, but they seem like the sort of filler a songwriter like Ester Dean will improvise before coming back around to fix it up. We start out with a "rock and roll / lose control" rhyme, which by Google's count has only been used 323,000 times before. Then we get that "we're going fast, not going slow" nonsense, before Will closes by plagiarizing himself with some lines he ripped from "I Gotta Feeling."

Left on its own, this one verse doesn't kill the song—songs like this are nigh unkillable by terrible verses—but there are still two more left! In the second verse Will implores us to "rock it out and rock it now," "turn it up and burn down the house" and also "turn it up and turn it down." These are perhaps the most boring sentences ever assembled out of words that should be exciting. The third verse is worse. Stripped of musical accompaniment it has the bizarre blankness of an improperly translated piece of literature: "I wish this night would last forever / 'Cause I was feeling down and now feel better." The words make grammatical sense, but the feelings that must have stirred somebody to write them have vanished into the ether.

The point really is not to pile on will.i.am; the man has enough detractors. But it's interesting to compare his songwriting style to that of his party-rock competitors. LMFAO fills out their forgettable verses with labored wordplay you can't help but get annoyed by, but will.i.am is different. Since his Peas days, he's toned down the neon ridiculousness that marked his earlier efforts. No one's put milk in his cocoa puffs for a long while. Instead, he's filling out his lines with selections so generic you'd be hard-pressed for anyone to remember that they're even there. (We listened to "Scream & Shout" 10 times to write this post, and even after the tenth try we could not have told you if there was more than one verse in it.) This approach has its benefits—no mocking Alanis Morrissette videos anymore!—but it also means the rest of the song has to make up the dead weight. In Will's previous solo efforts, those beats and hooks couldn't, and the tracks languished in obscurity. Now, he seems to have finally stuffed enough aural trinkets in a song, that it doesn't matter what he says. It doesn't matter what he shouts, as long as he lets it all out.

Check out the full lyrics below. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

Bring the action

When your hear us in the club

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

When we up in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

See the boys in the club

They watching us

They watching us

They watching us

Everybody in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with will.i.am

And Britney, bitch

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

Bring the action

Rock and roll

Everybody let's lose control

On the bottom we let it go

Going faster, we ain't going slow-low-low

Hey yo

Hear the beat, now let's hit the floor

Drink it up and then drink some more

Light it up and let's let it blow

Hey yo

Rock it out and rock it now

If you know what we talking 'bout

Turn it up and burn down the house the house

Hey yo

Turn it up and go turn it down

Here we go we go shake it

Cause everywhere we go we

Bring the action

When your hear us in the club

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

You gotta turn the shit up

When we up in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

You see them girls in the club

They looking at us

They looking at us

They looking at us

Everybody in the club

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

All eyes on us

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with will.i.am

And Britney, bitch

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

Bring the action

It goes on and on and on and on

When me and you party together

I wish this night would last forever

Cause I was feeling down and now feel better

It goes on and on and on and on

When me and you party together

I wish this night would last forever

Ever ever ever ever

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out

I wanna scream and shout and let it out

We say oh we oh we oh we oh

You are now now rocking with will.i.am

And Britney, bitch