Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Am... Not a Hater - I Just Don't Think It's That Good

Okay, so this is my second listen to Beyonce's album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, after a friend came in blasting "Halo" on his iPod. (I didn't even know he liked Beyonce). I expressed my frustration with the woman as a concept, and as a whole (I actually got really heated - she makes me SO mad) but I decided to give the album another listen just for the sake of it. I mean, it's getting good reviews, so it must have some sort of good thing about it.

*Correction: It's getting mixed reviews. I had only read the Concrete Loop review at the time, but I think that they always say good things so that the artists continue to rep their blog. According to Wikipedia, only 2 out of 7 newspaper reviewers (that the author of the article looked at) gave it a higher than average score. So why am I doing this still? To convince myself that I have good taste in music, and I'm not just a hater.

Short Version: Overall, I'm unimpressed. There are some good songs, but Beyonce failed to push the envelope and bring something new to the table. Liked: Satellites, Halo, That's Why You're Beautiful, Radio, Sweet Dreams

Long Version
If I Were A Boy - skip. Done before, nothing new. Try surprising me for once, B. Liked the video though.

Single Ladies - skip, though I kinda like it. This song and "If I Were A Boy" were overpromoted, so I can't stand to listen to them anymore. The video's INSANE, and choreographed by 19 year old Jaquel Knight. Watch out, world - this guy's FIYA.

Halo - Not sure what Beyonce's trying to do with these references to divine things. Singing about angels and being delivered, and then the whole "Ave Maria" thing. Like the beat, but not exactly feeling the song. The video will probably win me over though.

Disappear - I liked it up until the end of the chorus. Her repetition thing is getting on my nerves. It's like realizing that the Backstreet Boys always have an a capella/ slow break near the end of the song before they start up again. You notice it once, then you realize that they do the same thing in EVERY FRICKING SONG. Yes, Beyonce - you're annoying.

Broken Hearted Girl - Not impressed. Sounds like someone else. Also, I'm sure whoever produced this did something for Rihanna, because it sounds all too familiar. (It was Babyface!! Which makes me sad because I love Babyface. I guess his glory days are over.)

So at this point in my listening on Beyonce's MySpace page, for some reason, I can no longer listen to Smash Into You, Satellites, and Ave Maria (this is like in the space of a couple of hours). Oh well. I think I only liked Satellites anyway. The Ave Maria was well performed, but being Catholic and a lover of that song in its original form, I can't help but feel it's a little sacrilegious. And I think I'm going to end up liking Halo, which is annoying. But then again, she didn't write it, so I can be mad at her - it was written by Ryan Tedder of "Apologize" fame, who also wrote "Bleeding Love", which I love. I can't wait for Leona Lewis to overtake Beyonce in the fame game. Then maybe the Creole one will give us a break.

Radio - I'm actually feeling this one, because this is the kind of music I've been listening to, the kind that's just like "move to the beat, don't think about your moves, just dance" but the weird stops in the middles throw me off a little. I think I'll download this one. Legally, too.

Diva - AGAIN with the repetition. Girl, STOP it. The female A Milli falls flat. I mean, I'll admit, Beyonce is one of the few people allowed to talk ish, and there is an element of swag in this song, but it doesn't exactly work for me. I preferred "Upgrade U". I think the Lil' Wayne fad has faded. I even got tired of the Obama Obama remix of that song.

Sweet Dreams - So I downloaded the leaked version of this one ages ago. It's nothing special, but I like it.

Video Phone - Like the concept. Not in love with it, but I'd download it. Legally.

Hello - didn't listen all the way through. The repetition became unbearable. And the inclusion of the Jerry Maguire quote is cringeworthy

Ego - I don't see why she would even write or sing this song. Maybe because the word "ego" usually makes me think of arrogance and raw eggs at the same time. Ew. The verses have potential, but the chorus falls flat. It's a dud.

Scared of Being Lonely - This song is just weird. There are some songs that start of strangely, with you feeling like the beat's off, but then picks up a proper beat. But this one is just plain strange. The song is also unimpressive lyrically. I'm surprised this is Rodney Jenkins material - I would have expected more.

Ah. Found the missing songs on imeem.
Smash into You - it's the folk song! Oh… well, it starts out folky anyway. It's a bit incongruous, with Beyonce's voice, The-Dream on production, and the beautiful lyrics by McLaughlin. But I will download this one (illegally), with the hope that someone will cover this unplugged, without the drums, and do the song justice. The-Dream makes it a better fit for Beyonce, but it's still doesn't feel quite right to me.

That's Why You're Beautiful - At first, I was unimpressed, but there's something about this song that makes me want to listen to it more. It draws me in. This is probably the best songwriting I've heard from Beyonce (if she didn't steal it, like she did "If I Were a Boy"). I think it's the guitar and the haunting backing vocals. Now THIS is something new. Beyonce, I give you a hand [polite applause]

Satellites - Ah yes. I DID like this one. Simple, understated, yet beautiful. She didn't try too hard to prove she could sing, like in Smash Into You. She just sang it genuinely. And it's almost completely acoustic, with no drums!! Beyonce with no drums! We get to hear what she's really like. Good job, girl.

Okay, so overall: I like 5 out of 16 of the songs - that's about 50% of the standard album, and only about 30% of the deluxe album. So in sum, I'd say it's unimpressive. However, there are some standouts, and I think Beyonce should move in the direction of those songs, and leave behind the others, if she really wants to become a timeless star.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A black - no, white - no... Creole Wonder Woman (?)

Okay, so I will be completely honest with you: I don't think Beyonce can act. Sure she was in Dreamgirls, but she didn't get the Oscar, despite playing the lead role. Why is she suddenly taking on all these serious roles in a doomed attempt to show the world she's an actress? She's going to be Etta James in Cadillac Records, she's probably going to play Eartha Kitt (think: "Santa Baby", the black Catwoman in the Batman TV series. This video is proof that Beyonce can't handle her), and now Wonder Woman? I mean, Diana Ross is great and all, but playing a character loosely based on her in a movie is not exactly a challenging role, B.

Also, I do recall there being plenty of black superheroines in the comicbook world for her to play. Why does she want Wonder Woman? Does this echo of the continuous hair-dyeing, yaki-wearing, and photo touchups that makes the world think she wants to be white? I mean, I know Beyonce prides herself in being a strong black (oh, but not just black, Creole) woman , and is a role model for many young black women, but playing a white superheroine doesn't put us on the map. You know why? Because, we, black women, know that Wonder Woman doesn't represent us. She was never intended to represent us, and she never will. Because even if Beyonce gets to be Wonder Woman, the Wonder Woman in the comics will still be white, the Wonder Woman action figures will still be white. So we will never identify with you, B, because we will never get to be Wonder Woman.

You know, a great career move, B, would be to create a cartoon series loosely based on yourself, featuring a black female superhero. Kind of like a hybrid of Hi Hi PuffyAmiYumi, Jem and the Holograms and Storm from X-Men. Get the word out: make clothes, action figures, get out a CD featuring the original songs YOU recorded for the series. Then you'll have a franchise, and then you can make a movie. Which will sell millions because you'll have an established fan base that will pay to see the movie, even if it sucks. Now there's a challenge.
P.S. Don't overdo the whole Sasha Fierce thing. Having an alter-ego doesn't make you cool.