Beyonce needs no introduction, so I won’t even attempt to give her one. Her name alone is all that is needed, and for each person it means something else. Whether you love her or hate her there’s no denying her star power, something she relies a lot on in her new album 4.
Following the major success of I am….Sasha Fierce, Beyonce goes for a more toned down sound on 4. It proves to work on a few songs, but sounds forced on others.
The album opens with ‘1+1’, an emotional love song dripping with sensuality. It’s one of the most romantic songs she’s done to date, even though the lyrics are immature. Beyonce continues to walk the line between decent and horrible on songs like ‘I Was Here’ and ‘Rather Die Young’. With forced emotions and dramatic themes, these songs seem to be pushing Beyonce as a serious pop artist. She already is a legend in the making, we don’t need to be convinced with ridiculously fake songs.
She channels the early 90’s on song like ‘Love on Top’ and ‘Party’, which features a smooth verse from Andre 3000. While the songs are nothing to write home about, they seem authentic enough and Beyonce was clearing paying homage to the sounds that shaped her childhood.
The lowest point of the album belongs to ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ which is the saddest excuse for a hit that she’s ever done. With it’s standard lyrics and overused theme, the song becomes are poor mans ‘Irreplaceable’. Beyonce usually shines on women empowerment and break-up songs, but this is nothing new. It shouldn’t have been on the album and especially not a single.
The album closes with ‘Run the World’, which is a good song on its own but makes no sense on the album. It sounds so different that it actually prevents the album from being cohesive. It was obviously recorded to be the hit single from the album that it makes the performance of the song even more sad.
This has been a pretty negative review so far, but Beyonce really redeems herself.
‘I Miss You’, written by Frank Ocean, is a perfect example of modern R&B; raw emotion backed by a moody beat. Beyonce can never go wrong recording an R&B song, which she also proves on ‘Start Over’, co-written by Ester Dean. ‘Countdown’ is one of the louder moments on the album and should please her older fans. It’s one of those songs that wouldn’t work for anyone, and is so ridiculous that it’s perfect.
Beyonce shows the most strength on ‘I Care’. This is the type of song that will win her a grammy. This is arguably her best vocal performance to date, and even includes Mariah Carey like chirps in the last chorus. Again, it’s the songs that she sounds natural on that prove to be the best, which brings us to ‘The End of Time’.
Think of ‘Crazy in Love’ and ‘Deja-Vu’ having a baby together. While the song is not better than it’s parents, it comes pretty close, proving to be the best song on the album. With the distorted vocals in the beginning, and pounding drum line, this is the type of song you’d expect to hear from Beyonce. Why her team decided to not release this as the second single is beyond me, but there is still time for them to redeem themselves and give it the proper single treatment.
Overall 4 is a good album. I would argue that it’s better than I am…Sasha Fierce, but it lacks the cohesiveness of B-Day and initial lure of Dangerously in Love. It’s no where near the flop that people are making it out to be, so I strongly suggest giving it a listen.
I’m still waiting for the Beyonce album that blows me away. She always makes good albums, but she’s never made a classic album and legends make classics. I know she thought that this would be it, but it’s not. She’ll get there one day, I know she will. Until then I’ll be waiting