Monday, July 4, 2011

Album Review - Beyonce, "4"

This is my first review for this site, and I am very happy that it is for Beyonce.  I have been a big Beyonce fan for years, but after the release of Sasha-Fierce I sort of moved past Beyonce.  This album was a purchase that I made hoping that it would reignite my love and devotion to Beyonce.  I purchased this album after only hearing a few previews of the tracks.  The previews were in no way impressive to me.  I will now begin my very honest review of Beyonce's fourth album, "4."

Track by Track:

1. 1+1 - (2/5)

I believe that the first track on an album sets the pace of the entire album.  This is completely true in this case.  "4" starts out very slow with 1+1 and continues with that pace throughout most of the album.  I have a few comments on this song.  Some of them are positive, but most are negative.  First, Beyonce sounds very strong on the song.  Second, the lyrics are very strange in parts which makes this song seem silly and less serious.  This is an issue because the song if very slow and serious.  Third, the music of the song gets very interesting in some spots.  There is an odd background noise for part of the song which distracts you from the lyrics.  This could be a good thing though.  There is also a long instrumental section at the end of the song that makes the song even more boring.  This song is really not worth a listen.

2. I Care - (3/5)

One of Beyonce's main strengths is the way she conveys emotion in her voice.  This is what saves this song from being another boring filler track on this album.  Something else interesting that I heard on this song is the heavy use of effects on Beyonce's voice.  This strategy works for some artists, but it doesn't for someone as gifted as Beyonce.  I believe that I would like this song a lot more if they had just used her natural voice.  Not quite as boring as "1+1," but it doesn't come near Beyonce's preview works.

3. I Miss You - (2/5)

My first thought on this tracks comes right back to the vocal effects.  This was discussed on my review of, "I Care."  The producers are using too many tricks which drowns the emotion out of Beyonce's beautiful voice.  Also, the way that layer her vocals is very odd.  One of the layers sounds like a whisper while the other is a near scream.  The final product sounds very strange.  This is just another boring but beautiful filler track.  I have yet to hear a song that is anywhere near radio-ready or commercial.

4. Best Thing I Never Had - (3.5/5)

This song is much more classic Beyonce than the others.  The chorus is very catchy, and this song has the potential to be a breakup anthem.  It is also much more commercial than any of the other songs I have heard from this album.  This song is much better and could serve as a pretty successful single.

5. Party featuring Andre 3000 - (2/5)

At first I really loved the 80's vibe to this song, but it quickly became quite boring.  The hook is not anywhere near catchy enough to be a single.  This turns into another filler track for me.  I was quite surprised to find out that Kanye West produced this song.  It really isn't his sort of vibe as of late.  The aspect that really saves this song for me is Andre 3000's verse.  It really makes me miss the old days when Outkast was ruling the airwaves.  *Suggestion* - Make a club remix which is much more upbeat.  This could have a chance at invading the clubs then.

6. Rather Die Young - (2.5/5)

The beginning of this song really sucked me in with the over dramatic and creepy vibe.  It is very theatrical which is a good thing for this quite slow album.  Then the chorus kicks in, and I hate it.  It has way too much of a 60's/70's sound.  The chorus ruined this song for me, but I still love the verses and the bridge.  Beyonce is killing it vocally with this album, but this is just another non-commerical song.

7. Start Over - (4/5)

My first thought is that the beat is amazing.  Beyonce starts and i'm hooked.  Her vocals are incredible even though they are over-processed.  The lyrics are very powerful and effective.  Shea Taylor and Beyonce kill it lyrically with this song.  The chorus and hook are both very effective and catchy.  Where "Best Thing I Never Had" is a breakup anthem, this song is a make-up anthem.  This song is very current, commercial, and radio friendly.

8. Love On Top - (4/5)

Another great track written by Beyonce and Shea Taylor.  After hearing this the first time I became quite angry for an interesting reason.  This SHOULD have been released as the first single!!!  It could have been a huge summer song!  They really missed an opportunity to have a big hit, and we all know that Beyonce needs a big hit after the first single tanked.

9. Countdown - (3.5/5)

The beginning of this song is like magic to me!  It starts out so epic and powerful.  The lyrics are masterful.  I then didn't like the rest of the song near as much until the chorus came back around.  This has the potential to be a single, but i'm not sure how it would do.  I'm quite indifferent about this song.  I half love/half hate it.

10. End Of Time - (3/5)

I really do not like the way the song starts.  The beat and odd voice in the background certainly do not connect with me.  I like it much better after Beyonce starts singing.  It continues the trend of the songs becoming more commercial.  They are still nowhere near her preview hits.  This is another filler track in my mind, but it is better than some of the songs at the beginning of this album.

11. I Was Here - (5/5)

Diane Warren wrote an amazing song, and Beyonce sang her face off!!!  Incredible, thought provoking, and magical!  This is the highlight of the entire album for me.  Perform this at the Grammy's Beyonce!!!  It will be a magical moment!  I also think Diane Warren will win a songwriting Grammy for this song.

12. Run The World (Girls) - (1/5)

"I Was Here" should have been the last track on this album.  It would be a perfect ending.  "Run The World (Girls)" pretty much ruins the album for me.  I was wanting few more upbeat/radio friendly songs, but this song is ridiculous.  This song just makes Beyonce look desperate for a radio single.  I can't even listen to the whole song.  It's just terrible.

Overall Thoughts: (3/5)

This album had a lot of negative publicity before it was released.  I bought the album because I was very curious about it.  Many critics were very negative when it comes to the album.  It is indeed nowhere near perfect, but it is not as bad as people were saying it is.  Beyonce had one goal when she recorded this album.  She wanted to show everyone that she is a true artist, future-legend, and diva.  "4" did indeed show her as a diva, but like a true diva there are crowning moments and flat-out failures.  Where "I Was Here" is a crowning moment, "Run The World (Girls)" is a devastating failure for Beyonce.

The true test of this album will come when more songs are released as singles.  It is of dire importance for these upcoming singles to be hits.  If there is not a hit in this album, they are going to have to start over or do a re-release.  I truly hope that one of the upcoming singles is a hit because Beyonce is a true professional and hard worker.  She deserves all the success that she gets, but album sales will suffer if there is not a commercial hit single.  All the best of luck! - Jonathan

Songs To Download:

Start Over
Love On Top
I Was Hear

Songs To Avoid:

I Miss You
Run The World (Girls)

Worth The Money?

This album is totally worth purchasing if you are a fan of contemporary RnB and Soul music.  *Note* The best deal when purchasing this album is the Target Special Edition which contains six bonus tracks.

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