The Black Eyed Peas helped change the course of music thanks to a run of some of the biggest and best pop songs of the 00s. Though the group began with different members, and now features singer J. Rey Soul in Fergie’s place, the seismic shift they helped oversee in mainstream music thanks to their radical reinterpretation of the pop canon changed the way the genre sounded.
The group, which began as a straight-ahead alternative hip hop group, dynamically combined the tenets of backpack rap with earworm melodies and choruses that would unite the most vicious of enemies. The Black Eyed Peas’ best songs were social justice political statements or party-rap mega-hits, and Will.i.am, Fergie, apl.de.ap, and Taboo’s unique ability to put forth both without cheapening either is a defining legacy few other groups can claim. It’s hard to get further apart in content from “Where is the Love?” to “My Humps,” but there’s a core joy at the heart of the Black Eyed Peas that stitches together these disparate topics. The group simply loves making music, and it shows in every note they rap and sing.
Along the way, they’ve picked up six Grammy Awards, huge Soundscan numbers, featured on countless movie soundtracks, and become one of the most successful groups of all time. Need proof? They somehow spent 26 (!) consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “I Gotta Feeling” following “Boom Boom Pow” at the top.
14. Just Can’t Get Enough
“Just Can’t Get Enough” will always be a special song in the story of the Black Eyed Peas, because they shot the music video in Japan a week before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami happened. This added expected gravitas and weight to the free-wheeling song, and the tune took on a life of its own as a rallying cry for the Japanese people after the tragedy. The video begins with a simple tribute: “This video was filmed in Japan one week before the earthquake and tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people of Japan. We love you.”
13. RITMO (Bad Boys For Life) feat. J Balvin
The Black Eyed Peas, J Balvin, and a sample of “The Rhythm of the Night.” What else could you ask for? The Black Eyed Peas proved in 2019 that they still have a number of hit songs left in their system, an inherent grasp for brilliant pop songwriting and chemistry. Taken from the album Translation, “RITMO” flips “Rhythm” and slows it to the speed of reggaeton, giving the original a modern update.
12. Big Love
Black Eyed Peas have two distinct mindsets. They can create turn up jams that will kickstart any party, but they are also deeply committed social justice advocates who recognize the power of protest music. “Big Love” falls distinctly into the latter camp, touching on school shootings and the treatment of migrants on the song, which pleads for humanity for all people.
“Bebot” is a solo moment for apl.de.ap, who pays homage to his roots on this dancefloor hit. In a similar fashion to “The Apl Song,” which appeared on the group’s 2003 album Elephunk, the song is rapped solo by apl.de.ap as a tribute to his childhood in the Philippines and the people that raised him.
10. One Tribe
“One Tribe,” from The E.N.D., is the spiritual sequel to “Where Is The Love?” It’s a global anthem, a stadium-ready song that posits that we have more in common than we have different. With lyrics like, “One tribe, one time, one planet, one race/It’s all one blood, don’t care about your face/The color of your eye/Or the tone of your skin/Don’t care where you are/Don’t care/where you been,” the Peas planted themselves as worldwide ambassadors.
9. Gone Going feat. Jack Johnson
The Black Eyed Peas and Jack Johnson are a strange pairing on paper, but anyone skeptical of their work together overlook just how chameleonic and versatile the Peas can be. On “Gone Going,” they weave a story that touches on celebrity and fame, while Johnson provides an emotive acoustic guitar groove and a cathartic chorus.
8. Boom Boom Pow
Odds are, if you walked into a random crowd of people and yelled, “Gotta get that,” almost everyone would respond with “Boom, boom, pow!” That’s just how ubiquitous the Black Eyed Peas song from 2009 became upon its release. It’s a percussive, catchy, dancefloor banger, the sort of track the Peas were writing with effortless ease in the late 2000s/early 2010s.
7. Shut Up
“Shut Up” officially solidified the Black Eyed Peas as one of the biggest pop/hip-hop groups on the planet. After emerging with their miraculous single, “Where Is The Love?,” ahead of their third album, Elephunk, they released “Shut Up,” an immediately catchy break-up anthem that showcased the undeniable musical chemistry between the band’s two frontpeople – will.i.am and Fergie.
6. Imma Be
If you’re looking for a dictionary definition of what the Black Eyed Peas do so well, “Imma Be” is a sterling example. It’s taken from their 2009 album, The E.N.D., and features a propulsive, club-ready beat atop which the foursome go bar-for-bar, melody-for-melody. It’s smooth and succinct, a masterclass in pop-rap songwriting.
5. My Humps
Not even the squares who tried to get this song nixed would be willing to admit that it’s catchy as hell. “My Humps” is a risque, promiscuous duet between wil.i.am and Fergie, a back and forth of epic proportions, sexual tension coming to life in the form of a chart-topping pop song. Strangely, it was the third single from Monkey Business, but “My Humps” proved that they could make songs for every audience.
4. Joints & Jam
This is one for the old heads. “Joints & Jam” is the second single the Black Eyed Peas ever released, a neo-soul-inspired hip hop song complete with a head-nodding drum groove. The track took fragments from “Love Till the End of Time” by Paulinho da Costa and reworks Frankie Valli’s “Grease,” proving that the Peas were sample savants from the beginning.
3. I Gotta Feeling
Is there a better pre-game song than “I Gotta Feeling”? No matter your age, no matter what you’re getting ready for, the Black Eyed Peas anthem produced by French legend David Guetta is a surefire party starter for everyone from your five-year-old kid to your 95-year-old grandmother. It’s a perfect pop song: straightforward and declarative without ever being saccharine. When tonight is the night, there’s no better song to prepare with than “I Gotta Feeling.”
2. Pump It
The Black Eyed Peas have proved throughout their career that they can flip any sample – no matter how famous – and make it into an entirely new song. The track takes liberally from Dick Dale’s 1962 surf version of “Misirlou,” but the Peas spun it into something authentic to their style of pop on the album Monkey Business, creating a party-ready anthem that is undeniably built from their DNA.
1. Where Is The Love
Quite simply, “Where Is The Love” is one of the most impactful singles of the 21st century. It touched on the political and social climates without ever becoming preachy, and featured one of the catchiest hooks of the era. Justin Timberlake earned a writing credit for the song, and even sung on the final version, but wasn’t marketed as a performer. The first single from their breakthrough album, Elephunk, the tune also marked Fergie’s debut as an official member of the group.
Think we missed one of the best Black Eyed Peas songs? Let us know in the comments below.