MUSIC WORLD: Review of Beyonce’s “4”
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Beyonce‘s new album for more than a week. In this time period, I feel like I have formed some pretty solid opinions about the album as a whole. Despite only presenting 12 tracks for regular release, a release from Beyonce creates fanfare like few other artists can do. Check my full review below.
Let me begin with discussing my expectations for the album. When the single “Who Run the World (Girls)” dropped, I was excited. It was a different feel for Beyonce and for most of what was being played in major radio markets. After the record hit the general public, there was a lot of talk of Beyonce bringing something “new” and “exciting” and even “creating her own genre of music.” I felt the first single and accompanying video played into this. The album as a whole, feels very familiar though. That isn’t a completely bad thing, I just felt like I got duped by false advertising. Check my track by track review of the standard album. There will be a deluxe version released through Target with a few additional tracks.
1. “1+ 1” – I’m not surprised at all that this would be the first track of the album. After watching her riveting performance of this song on American Idol, I could tell she felt this song to her core. This track finds Beyonce in a vulnerable state will complete control of her voice. Though the lyrics are questionable (I don’t know much about algebra but I know 1 +1 equals 2), you can’t deny the grit and feel of this song. A wonderful way to open the album. Check her raw rehearsal of the song taped by her husband Jay-Z.
2. “I Care” – In this song, we get more of Beyonce’s gritty voice over a familiar, yet fresh, production sound. The energetic hook is a great balance to the calm of the verses. After reminding her beau why he hurt her, Beyonce screams out that she stills cares, despite the hurt. Most women can relate to the lyrics, if nothing else. Despite the unnecessary guitar solo, it’s a solid song on the album.
3. “I Miss You” – This track presents eerie production full of echos. I find it mirrors the sound of the first half of the album with its overall gentle and calm feel with poignant lyrics about love and denial of feelings. Lasting only about 3 minutes, there isn’t much else to share.
4. “Best Thing I Never Had” – Co-written by Babyface, this song serves as Beyonce’s official second single from the album. It has an “Irreplaceable Part Deux” feel to it, so I expect it to be a similar crossover hit. At first listen, I wrote it off as a typical Top 40 hit, but after listening to the lyrics a few more times, I really like what she’s saying here. It’s not your typical “break up” song. Instead she reverberates powerful words full of certainty. My favorite line: “You showed your ass and baby I saw the real you… thank God you blew it, thank God I dodged a bullet.” Genius. The video is expected to drop soon.
5. “Party” featuring Andre 3000 and Kanye West- Standing as the lone track on the album to feature anyone other than Beyonce, “Party” brings a smooth summer feel to it. The song samples Slick Rick (my fave) and is reminiscent of 90’s block parties and barbecues. Though Andre 3000’s contribution is slightly forgettable, it’s a welcome addition to the song. I’d be more interested to see what artist find this gem of a track and provides their own interpretation and feel. Oh and ‘Ye could’ve kept that “swagu” shit to himself.
6. “Rather Die Young” – I’m not sure what to make of this track. It seems like it’s odd placement following “Party,” and the lyrics feel like a personal journal entry to Jay-Z. The feel of the song is again, memorable, yet fresh. As a ballad-heavy album, I’d be interested to see how she interprets this song for a live performance.
7. “Start Over” – I almost skipped reviewing this song because you can certainly skip this track. There really isn’t anything exciting about the production or lyrics of this song. It’s fully of cliche phrases like: “let’s give our love wings,” “maybe we reached the mountain peak and there’s no more left to climb,” etc. This should’ve been a bonus track… in Japan.
8. “Love on Top” – Reminiscent of 1980’s feel good R&B, I almost want to speed up this track and turn it into “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely feels out of place. You can tell she was channeling her inspiration, Michael Jackson, during his Jackson 5 days. It’s a fresh track, but I don’t see the placement on this album.
9. “Countdown” – This track is the Beyonce that we expect to hear following her introduction of Sasha Fierce. This track would’ve fit right in with her best album to date, B’Day. And that’s a compliment. I like the simplicity of this track and feel-good vibe. I would love to see a visual interpretation of this video. Listen to it below:[audio http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/14/2828242//09 Countdown.mp3]
10. “End of Time” – This track leaked awhile back. There were claims that it wasn’t complete, but it appears on the album sounding just like the leaked track. It’s a simple dance song that I could see getting major play in Euro clubs. It continues the streak of tracks that fans look forward to from Beyonce: big sounds, fast lyrics, danceable beats.
11. “I Was Here” – Full of dramatic sounds and futuristic thoughts, I find this song to be the most forgettable of the entire album. It reminds me of an American Idol finale song, and I think Beyonce is above this. That’s all I have to say about that.
12. “Who Run the World (Girls)” – With this track serving as the lead single for the album, I’m surprised it got placement at the end of the tracklist, but I love the energy of this song. And it feels much more appropriate as part of the album than as a stand alone track. Check the video below.
I always feels so cheated with 12-track albums. There will be the deluxe version released via Target tomorrow, though. It includes the other leaked tracks “Lay Up Under Me,” “Schoolin’ Life,” and “Dance For You” in addition to a couple remixes of “Who Run the World.” My final verdict…
3.5 stars/5 stars