Beyonce
I Am... Sasha Fierce


2.5
average

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
November 29th, 2008 | 90 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jekyll and Hyde pop.

Pop music, in its current shape, has evolved drastically since the turn of the century, in particular for females. It’s simply not just about the Britneys and Christinas anymore- a quick glance at any of the chart-busting ladies this year alone reflects just how wide the spectrum of pop music can be. You have your big-voice pop divas (Leona Lewis), guitar girls (Katy Perry), stylish urban girls (Jordin Sparks), sweet singer-songwriters (Sara Bareilles), ladies that are part of the “neo-soul” movement (Duffy)…the list goes on.

Since shedding the excess weight that was Destiny’s Child, Beyonce Knowles has evolved into two very distinct species of popstar, each scoring significant hits. The first is Beyonce’s inner diva, belting out those quasi-poignant r-&-b ballads as if her proverbial ‘phat cash’ were about to disappear- see “Me, Myself and I” from 2003’s Dangerously in Love and “Irreplaceable” from 2006’s B-Day for examples of these. The second is Beyonce’s inner demon, waiting to pounce on that man, hit up that club/party/etc and back herself up with truckloads of funk and sass. Examples, in chronological order, include “Crazy in Love”, “Naughty Girl” and “Déja Vu”. With proven successes in both fields, one could completely understand Knowles’ wishes to continue to explore each. What has resulted, however, few could have expected.

I Am… Sasha Fierce is a double EP (or a single record over two discs, whatever your preference). Each disc represents both sides of the aforementioned schism of the Beyonce sound- I Am being the ballad territory, whilst Sasha Fierce presents the more upbeat, danceable tracks. As the Foo Fighters release In Your Honour, as well as basically every double release in musical history goes to show, this is a risk not worth taking, more often than not resulting in decidedly hit and miss affairs. Unsurprisingly, I Am… Sasha Fierce is no exception- an inconsistent, lopsided and ill-conceived mess of overly glossy production, inconsistency on both sides of the music and blatant disregard of potential when it emerges.

Our focus shifts initially towards the I Am… disc. This is decidedly thorny territory for Knowles, who is prone to phoned-in, emotionless wailing over an elementary snap beat if her discography is anything to go by. The six tracks present on the disc, at the very least, some evidence of attempts to branch out from such moulds and ideals. Hell, it even works sometimes- track two, “Halo”, has plenty of hit potential; boasting a formidable vocal delivery from the leading lady, and backed just as well by an anthemia stomp-clap and synthesizer undercurrent that meld the song’s elements together very impressively. Sure, it’s the handiwork of an established hitmaker (the dude who gave us “Bleeding Love”), and it certainly could have been sung by any r & b popstar (it was, in fact, originally intended for “Bleeding Love’ singer Leona Lewis). Still, Knowles brings enough character and depth to save it from facelessness.

The same, sadly, can’t really said for the rest of I Am… “If I Were A Boy” features a nice enough guitar line, but seems to ride along the same chords over and over, even when the energy of the song is intended to lift. Lyrically, it also suffers; it seems there is no real point to be made aside from the fact Beyonce would “drink beer with the guys and chase after girls” were she to swap around the chromosomes. Meanwhile, “Ave Maria” borrows far too much from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (vocal melodies, arpeggios and time signature to name a few) to give the song any firm identity on its own, whilst “Disappear” could well be the most dull four-and-a-half minutes that Knowles has ever put her name to. You can’t deny the vocal abilities here for a second. However, you can most certainly deny sustaining a consistent flow of interest in I Am… from start to finish.

Just when all hope seems lost, a siren’s call of syncopated clicks, electronic claps and a funk-infused, heavily percussive beat proudly and excitedly announces the arrival of the next Beyonce- Sasha Fierce. “ALL the single ladies! Put your hands up!”, she demands. Welcome to “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”, the sparkling new crown diamond in Knowles’ tiara. The unremitting, addictive and unashamedly fantastic beat continues as Beyonce leads a sassy, confident, post-feminist march for man-less ladies worldwide- somewhat ironic when it’s being addressed from a happily married woman’s perspective, but let’s just say it’s Fierce talking here.

Sasha Fierce has already trumped I Am… in three minutes. Unfortunately, the other four songs can’t come close to the benchmark- but by God, they give it their best shot. On a first time listen, chances are you won’t know what to make of “Diva”- a bassy club beat, chipmunked vocal samples and overdubs aplenty make up the track’s foundations, as Knowles presents her someone questionable thesis: “Diva is a female version of a hustler!”. Rummaging for your copy of Divas Live, you will certainly find it difficult to imagine any of the women present as female hustlers. Regardless, “Diva” slowly but surely evolves into an unexpectedly addictive number. Knowles is vocally all over the place, presenting breathy drawls, robotic shouts and some of her calling-card wails. It makes for one hell of a catchy listen, all one needs to do is give it a chance.

Another highlight comes in the form of “Sweet Dreams”. Whilst it is sadly not a Eurythmics cover, it is still a hook-laden synthpop utopia headed straight for the clubs. “You could be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare”, Beyonce warns as chirpy keyboards materialise. “Either way, I don’t wanna wake up”.
Aside from a weak link in the god-awful “Video Phone” (a song you actually have to hear to truly comprehend just how bad it is), Sasha Fierce is a collection of some rather good tracks. It seems simply criminal that the disc ends so abruptly, as it has all the features of platinum-selling material as an entire LP if songs of this quality could continue.

I Am… Sasha Fierce is a difficult record to properly summarise. There’s too much going for it, particularly on the second disc, to deem it a failure. Conversely, there’s too much filler and badly-executed ideas, particularly on the first disc, to deem it a success. I Am… Sasha Fierce is neither here nor there- and for a pop superstar, that’s just not good enough.



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user ratings (166)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (2.5)
Sadly I Am…Sasha Fierce comes off as lesser than the sum of its parts....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Correction
November 30th 2008


188 Comments


nigga howd you get unbanned

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I said I was sorry and that I learned my lesson.
Srsly, though, I'm going to do my best to be less of a dick around here, and I apologise to anyone I've pissed off.
As always, feedback's appreciated.


NewYorkZoo
November 30th 2008


95 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

agreed for the most part... in my opinion, "Single Ladies" was her only success on that album. good review.

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

agreed for the most part... in my opinion, "Single Ladies" was her only success on that album. good review.

Wait, so you only liked one song and yet you gave it the same rating as me? I'm confused.

OffTheRadar
November 30th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

jom aint gonna forgive cuz me i already got banned for the sort of schit

still he said i could ask saturday of next week.This Message Edited On 11.29.08

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sorry, who are you normally?

OffTheRadar
November 30th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

bastard

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

And all of your accounts are banned?

OffTheRadar
November 30th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

well, my two main accounts are.

I am going to write a concept review for lil jon tonite!This Message Edited On 11.29.08

NewYorkZoo
November 30th 2008


95 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i gave it a 2.5 because i do agree with you, but for me single ladies was the only significant
standout... everything else was just ok, but none of it was particularly god awful. i feel like her
simpler fans will eat this album up. b'day was a wayyyy better album however, and to only be made
in 10 days? the fact that she picks this crap out of a rumored 70+ songs she's recorded is actually
kinda sad...This Message Edited On 11.29.08

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, B'Day owns this.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2008


17222 Comments


Most excellent review Atavan.
Bastard, what did you do to incur the Jom banhammer this time?
This Message Edited On 11.29.08

OffTheRadar
November 30th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

me and 8 other people spammed up the Circle Takes The Square review.

Atavan got out of it due to his skills at being a whore.

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Could also be the fact I only posted like three times whereas the rest of you kept it up for like five pages.

OffTheRadar
November 30th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

man i was kidding

Athom
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2008


17222 Comments


HAHAHA!

NewYorkZoo
November 30th 2008


95 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Atavan, can i just ask, is that Christina Aguilera there?

K, just making sure that was Christina Aguilera, there.

AtavanHalen
November 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yes, yes it is Christina Aguilera.

YouAreMySilence
November 30th 2008


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I really dig If I Were A Boy

AlexTM510
November 30th 2008


1403 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review =). for the most part I agree but I guess I enjoyed it a bit more.


Diva is a serious "wtf" in my book but I love it. And i'm guessing that beat is ripped right from Lil Wayne's A Milli

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!



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