|Album due out June 28th|
Beyonce is clearly managing herself since she severed professional ties from her father/manager Matthew Knowles. The result has been the most sporadic and intriguing roll out of a new project by a veteran artist we've seen to date. On one hand there's the first single "Run The World (Girls)" which was either leaked or released as a snippet boasting production by Switch of Major Lazer, co-written by The Dream using a sample from Major Lazer's "Pon De Floor". Then there was the 11 second clip for the video, followed a day later with a bit longer clip. If that wasn't enough to entice you, a full minute trailer aired soon after. One got the sense that the video wasn't quite Sasha Fierce enough. On the other hand, once "Girls" was ready -- hyped up by it's premiere on American Idol -- it was seen by over 20 million in the viewing audience. Some tuned in to the show just for the video.
We're either witnessing a new era of how an artist breaks their new music or decisions are being made in haphazard fashion. It's still too soon to tell. However, for a seasoned star of Beyonce's caliber you would think this process would go a lot smoother with better results. With four weeks on the Billboard charts "Run The World" has failed to crack the Top 30 on the Hot 100, R&B, or Digital Charts. Even hard core fans are finding the song a bit hard to swallow. We must remember though that Beyonce has always leaned to her nearest inspiration when it comes to her sound.
2003's debut album Dangerously In Love followed her stint as Foxxy Cleopatra in the Austin Powers series. The music reflected loud horns from the 70s as well as a sensual soulful tone. "Crazy In Love" the biggest hit off of Love featuring Jay-Z paved the way for the next album. Beyonce studied how her future husband worked in the studio (creating healthy competition by pitting producers up against one another in different rooms) and it inspired her to use this method for 2006's B'Day.
Famously created in a face paced two weeks, B'Day's sound was loud, bold, and urban. Although it debuted at the top of the charts it wasn't until the pop friendly 4th single "Irreplaceable" and a repackaged deluxe CD complete with the "Beautiful Liar" Shakira duet were released that the overall album was a true success.
It seems that this logic of catering to her R&B urban Destiny's Child roots as well as the ever growing pop masses loomed over Beyonce. Thus, I Am...Sasha Fierce was born. Part adult contemporary Starbucks music, part club banging dance music the double disc attempted to appeal to everyone. Beyonce even released songs against each other starting with "If I Were A Boy" perfect for the Vh1 Top 20 audiences and "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" for the 106 & Park set.
But something strange happened. While "Boy" was a hit there was no one way it could dominate the phenomenon that was "Single Ladies" accompanied by its video & Bob Fosse inspired choreography. The song became a YouTube hit, spawned a great Justin Timberlake Saturday Night Live skit, and was even covered by Liza Minelli on the Sex And The City Movie.
Recently in an MTV article Beyonce stated, "I'm mixing every type of genre that I love and I'm inspired by every type of genre...It's not R&B. It's not typically pop. It's not rock. It's just everything that I love all mixed together in my own little gumbo of music." If "Run The World (Girls)" is any indication of this new found gumbo sound we may need to rethink the recipe. Sonically the sample is nothing new. Lyrically it's another girl power anthem albeit one written by a guy who cheated on his pregnant wife.
But what Beyonce may lack in substance and innovation she more than makes up for on the stage. "Run The World (Girls)" will undoubtedly be performed a dozen times leading up to the albums release date. There will be chances to break the song on awards shows, talk shows, as well as on Oprah's farewell season. Audiences may just need to see the song come to life before they can get behind it. And for someone like Beyonce who is so at home on the stage this may not be a difficult task at all.