After dropping her group, Destiny’s Child, like it was hot, Beyonce
garnered some credibility with her surprisingly soulful and sharp debut album, Dangerously in Love. Although it was bit ballad-heavy, the album spawned hit singles & cemented the consensus that Beyonce was a force to be reckoned with. On B’Day, Beyonce goes into a completely different direction with decidedly mixed results. Gone are the gooey ballads and sweet croon of yesteryear. this is the new Beyonce. And the new Beyonce likes to pump up the volume and scream and yell through most of her songs. At it’s best, B’Day furthers the belief that Beyonce is indeed a musical superstar. At it’s worst, it has you running for the earplugs and scratching your head in confusion.
The album starts off with Beyonce’s first single, “Deja Vu”. The title of the song is pretty apropo considering it sounds like “Crazy in Love” on crack. And that’s not a good thing. Same horn samples, same banter exchanged between Beyonce and her crutch/beau, Jay-Z. Instead of exciting vocals, we get Beyonce literally wailing throughout the song with no rhyme or reason. Somewhere, Beyonce’s vocal coach is hiding her head in shame. The next song, “Get Me Bodied”, is just as busy and fernetic. Hooks are indistinguishable, it’s a mish-mash of chants and yelling over a sparse beat. The album picks up with the catchy club track “Upgrade U” but save the sighs of relief for later. “Ring the Alarm” explodes midway through the album with Beyonce screaming about her man being unfaithful and being “dammed if (she) sees another chick on his arm.” Could this be a reference to Jay-Z’s tryst with the horribly untalented Rhianna?
Who cares, this track scares me. “Freakum Dress” is a catchy little number and will assuredly bring the term “Freakum Dress” into the new urban slang. Beyonce sings with passion about how to revive a relationship that’s going south. Her solution? Wear a slutty dress, duh! Moral implications aside, this song is damn fun and shows Beyonce at what she does best: singing about moronic shit over a really good beat. The first ballad on B’Day comes in the form of “Irreplacable”. The song sounds like nothing else on the album and breathes new life into the usual soggy execution of ballads. The album ends on a promotional note with Beyonce’s new single off her latest film Dreamgirls. The album is full-on balls-out sappy soul ballad. It’s a solid effort but sounds painfully out of place on the otherwise upbeat B’Day.
Overall B’Day fails at it’s goal of making a frothy club record. Beyonce’s voice is so bizarre and out of character, that it is somewhat unnerving. And most of the songs are too busy; drowning the hooks and choruses in too much instruments and noise. Take a xanax and mellow out Beyonce. Fine-tune those smooth vocals of yours and you’ll not only prove you’re a superstar but you’ll be seen as a superstar with staying power.