Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beyonce- 4 (Album Review)

Beyonce- 4 (Album Cover)

I have been a huge fan of Beyonce since her Destiny’s Child days. I’ve followed her career. I own all her records and concert DVDS. I even bought the ticket to her concert that she eventually cancelled. Anyhoo… But I’m in two minds about this new record.  I’ve been listening to this set over and over again but honestly it just doesn’t excite me as much as “B Day” (2006) or “I Am… Sasha Fierce” (2008) did. First of all, I’d be lying if I say this record sounds oh-so- fresh or it is majorly groundbreaking. Although all 12 tracks contain the uniquely-Beyonce sound that we all love, they also sound tired and tried. It is not an appalling record as the songs are all quite decent in their own way. Therefore, if someone asks me to pull out one bad song, I would struggle to find it. After all, these 12 tracks were carefully picked from total 72 tracks she recorded for this album. (Quite impressive, right?)

On her 4th studio album simply titled “4”, Beyonce once again sings about the themes that are so near and dear to her heart such as being dangerously in love (“I’d Rather Die Young”, “1+1, “Love On Top”,“I Miss You”), My-boyfriend-did-me-wrong songs  (“I Care”,“Best Thing I Never Had”) and female empowerment (“Run The World (Girls)”, "End Of Time"). (We get it, You are an independent woman, B) The second single from this album,“Best Thing I Never Had”- sounds like her number one single “Irresistible (2006)”recycled and revisited. The song ,nonetheless , should be praised for Vanessa Carlton’s  A Thousand Miles- like piano-driven melody and Beyonce’s super raw vocal riffs and runs.“Run the world (Girls)” is a great party anthem but it does not have the magic that “Déjà vu(2006)” or “Crazy In Love(2003)” had. Despite the smoking hot video and her revolutionary live performance at the Billboard awards, the song has so far peaked at #29 on the Billboard chart. What’s more, this song and the other song on the record called “End Of Time” shares the VERY similar marching band style drum beats. It makes you wonder if they were written on the same day.

“Love on top” which is flavored with an old-school Rn’B vibe is one of my favorites. The singing style and the song’s concept remind me of Natalie Cole’s classic “This Will Be (An Everlasting love) (1975)”. Dianne Warren-penned “I Was Here” is also a standout track especially for Beyonce’s emotional vocal delivery. When uber-talented artists like Beyonce try to get involved with every aspect of making the record (From writing, producing, performing to even directing the music videos), the eventual result tends to be either repetitive or rather one-dimensional.  Sometimes, it generates better outcomes when the singer just does the part of singing leaving the rest to other professionals to take care of. “I was Here” is the perfect example of this theory.  It is the only song she didn’t write on this album and it is undoubtedly one of the best tracks. (Whitney Houston did not write any of her hits nor Celine Dion).

“Countdown” takes us back to her Destiny’s child days but somewhat forgettable. “Start Over” that features Tina Turner-like tigress growls and “I Care”, a song beautifully adorned with near-whistle notes at the bridge, are gems.  Party (feat. Andre 3000 & Kanye West) could do well on the radio for its catchy chorus and the two superstar guests. Plus “We like to party” message is not only applicable globally also no brains required to enjoy it.

Here’s the thing, I don’t know about other Beyonce fans but I feel like I’m having a Beyonce –overdose. She’s everywhere. Releasing 8 singles from her third album alone was not enough, she toured the world, put out live concert DVDs, albums with remixes and out-takes, collaborated with other artists(Lady GaGa, Alicia Keys, Jay Z), made movies and featured on the soundtracks, performed on every possible talk show and awards show. (Not to mention the clothes and perfumes she sells.) I’m very impressed with her boundless energy, tremendous talents and superhuman work ethic but I need a break. It’s been too much and too often. How about taking a few years off and taking time to come up with a record that is fresh, innovative and inspiring? For example-Madonna’s “Ray Of Light” or Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation Of Mimi”.  Make us crave for more. We want to be surprised. 
Beyonce's stunning album cover art 

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