4 By Beyonce
Beyonce Knowles is a singer, dancer, actor, producer, fashion designer, entertainer and entrepreneur. She has stormed the charts with such hits as “Crazy in Love,” “Irreplaceable,” and “Halo.” She revolutionized music videos with “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, the black-and-white homage to Bob Fosse with just three dancers in leotards. Beyonce has adopted the personas of her contemporaries (Lady Gaga in “Telephone” and Shakira in “Beautiful Liar”) and then made them her own. The Grammy-winning singer is a force to be reckoned with and her fourth solo album proves that nothing has changed.
Aptly titled "4", Beyonce’s latest disc is radically different from anything she’s ever done. Instead of filling the record with surefire Top 40 hits, the songs are quirkier and more eccentric. "4" focuses more on ballads and mid-tempo love songs, with only a few songs fit for the dance floor. This isn’t a criticism at all; in retrospect, the change of pace seems almost inevitable. Beyonce is now an adult woman, married to the man she loves. She no longer feels the red-hot anger of “Ring the Alarm” nor is she aroused anymore by the idea of being someone’s “Naughty Girl.”
This is Beyonce’s most mature and sensible album. It opens with “1+1,” a beautiful love song that showcases Beyonce’s vocal range. It's worth applauding her for starting the album with a ballad instead of, say, the attention-grabbing “Countdown” (the album’s most fun and foot-tapping number). She features two more ballads after “1+1,” though they are less interesting.
The album’s second single is “Best Thing I Never Had,” and it is a more adult version of “Irreplaceable.” It’s softer, more reflective and really shows Beyonce’s growth as a person. “Start Over,” “Rather Die Young” and “I Was Here” are the album’s best ballads. With beautiful lyrics, interesting instrumentations and gorgeous vocals, they are soulful and captivating.
The three best songs come in a row: the aforementioned “Countdown,” “End of Time” and “Love on Top.” Particularly “End of Time,” one of the album's most romantic and musically innovative tracks, would make an awesome third single. “Love on Top” is a throwback to 1980s love songs, in the style of Whitney Houston or Janet Jackson. Rounding out the album is “Run the World (Girls),” her feminist first single. It’s a good song for sure, but it emerges as one of the most disappointing songs when compared to the other tracks. The same goes for “Party,” her duet with Outkast’s Andre 3000.
For those who admire and respect Beyonce as much as we do, "4" is an album that is a must-hear. Her fans will appreciate her attempts to be different from that which has come before.
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