Beyonce has surely spent untold amounts of energy carving out a niche all her own. The obvious comparisons to Diana Ross may have been enough for some artists to hang their hat on. Beyonce – to her credit – has proven she is more musical and more inventive than Ross ever was.
Then there is the (acrimonious?) exodus from Destiny’s Child. Without disrespecting DC, Beyonce is just too much to confine into that safe pop formula. She is bringing a lot of power and a lot of energy and she is willing to take chances (on the album cuts) that most artists are simply afraid of.
She does vocal acrobatics on “1+1” that most signers would be afraid to even try. I am not saying that every risk she takes pays off. What I am saying is that she is taking risks and – with luck – other pop artists will follow that lead and bring unpredictability back to pop music.
She has not abandoned her pop roots; she is just reaching beyond them. Obviously “Run the World” is a lame pop paean to girl power complete with faux-Ebonics. That is the radio hit to get people to buy the album.
“Rather Die Young” is a sweet and soulful nugget highlighting Beyonce’s soaring vocals more than anything I have heard before. There is a retro-soul vibe supporting her voice. This is the kind of song that deserves airplay.
“The Best Thing I Never Had” contains my two favorite lyric lines of the year, “You showed your ass and I saw the real you!” and “I bet it sucks to be you right now!” These are the harshest break-up lines ever. (Take a note Cee-Lo.)
Andre 3000 does a guest bit on “Party’ and is – without a doubt – the most inventive and irreverent bit of spoken word on a mainstream album.
There are moments of brilliance – and there are moments of curiosity. Mostly, if this is the future of pop music, I’ll sleep better at night.
Stand Out Tracks
The Best Thing I Never Had
Rather Die Young