Timbaland/ Various Presents Shock Value

Three tracks — "Oh Timbaland,” "Give It To Me” and "Bounce” — exceed expectations. The rest of the album fails to shock because you’ve heard it before, particularly on Justin Timberlake’s Futuresex/LoveSounds and Nelly Furtado’s Loose. "Release” features Justin and sounds like a "Sexy Back/Let Me Talk To You” mash-up but with more cowbell. Ditto for "The Way I Are,” which is part "My Love” and part "Maneater.” Timbaland is a terrible rapper but his endlessly recycled death threats and production rate rhymes won’t shock you with their mediocrity. He’s not as bad as rival producer Scott Storch, however, whom he skewers on the irresistibly charming "Give It To Me.” The diss de resistance? He calls Storch a piano man. Then on the album’s finale, another piano man, Elton John, appears on "2 Man Show.” Timbaland reunites with old pal Magoo on "Boardmeeting,” a song that bears the distinct flavour of the Neptunes produced "Hollaback Girl.” But where "Hollaback Girl” was hype, Timbaland just organises a meeting with the object of his affection. When rumours of the Hives-assisted "Throw It On Me” appeared online, most were eager to hear the results. While definitely different, the experiment isn’t exactly successful despite a propulsive beat that deserved much better. The trend of rappers (Jay-Z, Kanye) trading bars with Fallout Boy continues with a cringe-worthy track called "One and Only.” Overall, it hurts that Jay-Z and Tweet are absent or that Missy gets just one verse on "Bounce” and ultimately, that Aliyah is no longer alive to ride Timbo’s triple-beat barrage to R&B perfection. (Interscope)