Do you have a special number? Beyoncé does, and it’s 4. It’s what day her birthday is on (September 4th, 1981) and this is her fourth solo effort; hence the name of the album. And guess what? Four is also the number of songs I like on the album; unfortunately there are a total of 12 songs on it altogether, which makes for a rather poor win percentage.
Beyoncé has said that she mixed genres on this album like a “mad scientist”. In her defense, since she started performing at around the age of 15, she may not have had much real lab experience. Maybe she doesn’t know how to evaluate whether something will turn out cool or explode. This album doesn’t explode so much as just kind of simmer.
Let’s be honest, what we really want to hear from Beyoncé is songs like “Single Ladies” and “Crazy in Love”, but what she gives us on “4” is mostly slowish ballads. Why, Beyoncé? Most of us don’t see the attraction to Jay-Zee, so it’s not all that appealing to hear her croon about her feelings of love (presumably for him).
Literally the first seven songs on this album are slow—off to a bad start—and then four of the last five are a lot more of what we love about B (I’m just going to call her B since it’s annoying to keep typing the accent mark in her name). She even has a song that features Kanye West and André 3000 (from Outkast) that manages to be pretty boring. B sings “We like to party” about as convincingly as I would- you would know that I would really rather be cross stitching while watching something on Bravo with the teens (only the best!). Let’s focus on the songs I liked:
- “Love on Top” – This song has some serious energy, and she hits some awesome high notes. I noticed that when I sing this song in the car I actually sound quite a bit like B, which trust me is a testament to her ability to lure her audience into singing along. This is a feel-good mood booster- my favorite on the album.
- “Countdown” – This song must have been one of her lab experiments because it has a million sounds going on concurrently. I don’t know if I’d say I love this song, but because it’s quick and energetic I’m recommending it as I’m encouraging that kind of sound from B. I’m quite sure she’ll be soliciting my input any minute.
- “End of Time” – So, not a very happy title. B seems to be accompanied by a very energetic marching band on this song. Props for music you can take a brisk walk to. Also possibly suitable for a halftime show at a Friday night football game.
- “Run the World (Girls)” – This was the first single released from “4”. It’s different, and I usually give points for that.
Honestly, I’d skip all but the four songs I’ve listed. As for those, they might be the perfect bridge between “music” and “mom”. My litmus test for whether something is family friendly is if I’d play it in the kitchen while cooking, meaning I would enjoy it and wouldn’t cringe if my kids heard it. While the whole album is fine as far as that goes, a lot of the songs are pretty dreary and there’s no need for that while cooking dinner or going for a walk or anytime you’re not going through a horrible breakup.
Here is the video for “Run the World”, a girl power song whose video showcases B’s impressive moves, enough to rival Justin Timberlake’s. Enjoy!
Filed under: Album Reviews