|Available 6.28.11 or at a google near you.|
Take everything you think about a Beyonce song and throw it in the ocean. Then take every song from her aptly titled fourth album 4, dress them up behind the diva in her patented onesie and put them on a stage. This is how you appreciate this offering.
Opening with the power "make love to me" ballad "1+1", you already know there will be wind machines and blond hair and chiffon swaying in the breeze. The crowd will be on their feet and yet she won't have to dance one step. Once you're settled in she belts out the stadium sized "I Care". "Ever since you knew your power you make me cry." Her voice is gritty even when she croons alongside the guitar's solo. She slows it down with "I Miss You". Think of her sitting on the stage, legs glowing over the edge, peering out to her audience. It's a tender moment and also the shortest of the set.
The lights dim and Beyonce reemerges after a quick costume stage just to taunt the last guy who did her dirty. "You showed your ass and now I saw the real you", she sings on "Best Thing I Never Had". It really does suck to be whoever that guy is but not for the crowd who will undoubtedly sing and shout along to every word. Just when the ladies are ready to call their ex to tell them how they feel yet again, Kanye West lightens the mood with his production of "Party" also featuring Andre 3000. It's a fun summertime jam that pulls lyrics from both Keith Sweat and Dougie Fresh. The vocal arrangement showcases the songstress as her own best group. Andre's verse sounds a bit uninspired (he had more fun on John Legend's "Greenlight") but we're too busy partying to notice. And let's pretend we didn't hear swag sauce or swagu. Okay? Okay.
Mrs. Carter goes back to her comfort place singing how she'd "Rather Die Young" than live her life without her loved one. It's beautiful and hints of all things great about early 90's R&B. By the end all cell phones should be waving and glowing in the air. "Start Over" could very well be the point of the set where most will hit the concession stands but it won't stop her voice from carrying over their chicken fingers and watered down cocktails.
After another quick change Beyonce will hit the stage to have some flirty girly fun while channeling her inner young Michael Jackson. "Love On Top" begs her to hob nob and play with the audience never missing a step dancing across the entire stage. The King Of Pop would be proud but King B does the number justice clearly having the most fun as the song seems to go on forever.
Beyonce famously said in a recent interview that she was mixing everything that she loves into her own musical gumbo. While the rest of the songs feel true to form "Countdown" which samples from Boys II Men's "Ahhh" comes the closest to this new "genre" that she eludes to. The intro vibe has middle eastern all over it but quickly segues into touches of everything from calypso, to big band, to hip hop. If anyone was missing Sasha Fierce here she is cursing and twerking.
"End Of Time" is to Beyonce as "Escapade" was to Janet Jackson. It's the whimsical Bayou inspired part of the show. Think Creole inspired costumes on acrobatic dancers flipping over the stage. Also imagine this is where her all girl band Suga Mama gets their chance for some solo time and shine.
Once the crowd is hyped and overjoyed Beyonce picks this moment to slow it down yet again with the Ryan Tedder produced, Diane Warren laced "I Was Here". It's a statement piece that Oprah would be proud of. Beyonce is in deep gratitude proclaiming "I was here, I lived, I loved." Yes, the majority would agree that the world is that much better by her being here.
And lest we forget who "Run The World (Girls)" Beyonce reminds us she's so "hood with this". Probably the most unpopular first single from her thus far it still goes hard on the stage. No doubt Beyonce will continue to gain new fans with her performance of it but one question remains. Is it even necessary? It feels like the heads of Columbia Records thought the collection was devoid of a radio hit and chose to add it last minute. Perhaps since the album leaked three weeks early Beyonce will edit it with new entries and offer "RTW" as a bonus track.
The good; Beyonce has matured in her song choices and her delivery. Her vocals are amazingly layererd, controlled and crisp. She is clearly singing for her pants on 4.
The bad; the lyrics are still elementary at best. Nothing of real note.
"I dumb down for my audience and double my dollar/
they criticize me for it yet they all yelled 'holla'"
~Jay-Z "Moment of Clarity"
Perhaps Beyonce had her moment of clarity since she hasn't written an entire song on her own since 2003's "Dangerously In Love" instead relying on others including The Dream who seems to do a better job writing women empowerment songs than he does believing it.
The Beyonce of it all is clear. She is home and alive on stage and her vocals are the star of the show. The nine months she spent being a normal girl catering to her man, playing with her nephew, and sleeping in lit a new spark under her. You understand when she says she was inspired by live music and chose to honor her fans by using her performance vocals rather than her studio sound. It's written all over 4 which would be best served as a live album. In fact, 4 Live can't be too far behind.