Beyonce: 4 - Tia
I have to be honest. I have had to listen to Beyonce's new album 4 a few times. (Of course that was in between listening to all things Daniel de Bourg but that's neither here nor there.) I was not a fan of her last album and admittedly had some preconceived ideas about this one. When "Run The World (Girls)" hit the radio a few weeks back, I didn't have a lot of hope for this album. The song sounded messy and, for lack of a better word, extra. Toya referred to it as a cacophony. And apparently we weren't the only people underwhelmed by the song. After barely cracking the top 30 on the Billboard top 100 chart the song began to nose dive just three weeks after it's debut. Numbers like that usually don't bode well for an album.
But, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't love it at first. And frankly, I don't LOVE it now. But I do like it. And it's definitely worth checking out even if you're aren't Beyonce's biggest fan.
There are, of course, the standard "I'm in love, I'm not in love, Why aren't we in love" songs. But there are some stand out tracks that move from beyond the initial listen into "repeat, repeat, repeat."
There's a heavy throwback theme across a few of the songs. "Party" featuring Andre 3000 will immediately transport you back to the late 80s/early 90s. From the tempo, to the cadence, to the very essence of the song, "Party" makes you think of door knocker earrings, mushroom haircuts and slow dancing in your friend's living room house party. It is a must hear hands down.
"Love On Top" could quite literally have been a Whitney Houston song from a previous decade. I fully expect to see Bey come out in this wig from the "Somebody to Love Me" video.
Oh wait...she already did...moving on.
The four, yes FOUR, key changes at the end of the song remind you that Beyonce is not just Jay-Z's pretty wife. Love her or hate her, the girl can sing.
My guilty pleasure song is "Best Thing I Never Had". The smugness of the song plays well to my ego. I'm sure everyone has that person that makes them THANK GOD it didn't work out. I personally have a few. "Best" will be the song you play over and over every time you find yourself wishing that maybe it could have kind of sort of worked out. No ma'am. No sir. Be happy you "dodged a bullet" and keep it moving.
But the song that I BESEECH you not to miss is "Countdown". The frenetic energy of the song dragged me in almost immediately. While the tempo is faster than "Girls", "Countdown" seems cleaner. I have not yet been able to process how this song can make you want to join a step team during one verse and do the Dougie in the next. But that's exactly how I feel every time I listen to it. Maybe it's the perfectly interspersed repetition of the horns and the snares that keep the song from spinning out of control. Just when you think the song may whip you into TOO dangerous of a frenzy, the HBCU drum corp beat (accompanied by the horn section, of course) brings you back in from your delusions of joining someone's step team...Or is that just me? The "Uhh Ahh" Boyz II Men sample was a nice touch. I was so caught up with googling "Nashville Step Teams" that I didn't initially catch it. But once I heard it I wondered how I could have missed it at all. The only conclusion I came to for missing the sample the first go round was that I was caught up because Beyonce wrote a Ride-or-Die, treat yo man right, BYE HATERS! song. And it is a BANGER!!! I am PRAYING that she does a video for "Countdown." If she does do a video for it, It's going to have to be THE MOST. And since numbers 2 and 3 of the countdown could give one the impression that she and Jay are thinking about trying to have a baby, I would expect nothing less than THE MOST from Queen B...Possibly in a baby shell that they make actors wear to appear pregnant....or....stun the world....actually BE pregnant in her video. But this is all speculation from a girl who has had one too many Ambien this evening. (me)
This girl doesn't know how to go small. She's from Texas. I lived there for a lot of my childhood. So as her fellow Texan, I understand her need to go big. In Texas you go big or go home. With this album Bey has clearly stepped up her game and won't be going home no time soon. Gone are the vague references to alter egos who sing slightly forgettable songs. (Name two songs off of the Sasha Fierce album...without googling ("Single Ladies" and "If I Were A Boy" don't count)...I'll wait.) But the arrival of 4 welcomes in a more mature Beyonce. Sure, she may write a complete throwback song to a bygone era that will make you wax nostalgic for you pink high tops and bubble dress for the party (only me again?) But the minute, nay, the second you realize those shoes don't fit and that dress has been gone, Bey bounces you right back into the now with a couple of hot bangers, a couple (okay maybe 1 and 1/2) songs about empowering yourself and a few sappy love songs that may just reach that cold place in your heart.
I'm looking forward to the performances that will come from this. Beyonce is the consummate performer of our generation. All you had to do is watch some of her recent appearances and regardless of how you feel about the album or even about her you have to admit that SHE. IS. BACK. And if her recent performances are of any indication of what we can expect, then get ready because she is going to be do THE MOST. And while I usually try to avoid it, if it's Beyonce who will be bringing it, I will take THE MOST.