Beyoncé is one of my favourite artists. Fact. I’m not as die-hard as some of my friends and industry peers, but I do consider myself to be a big fan of her work. With that in my mind, I’ve been looking forward to the release of her brand new album “4”. Let’s be honest, the first single off that album (Girls) Run The World wasn’t the greatest single most of us have heard from King B. I kept thinking to myself that this was just a marketing ploy, to get us talking about the star again, by reacting negatively to the single and how maybe she would bounce back with an even bigger tune as a result. When the video was eventually released, I hoped my views would change on the single. They didn’t. While Beyonce looks fantastic in the video and it is really great to see her integrating the Tofo Tofo dance into her choreography, it still didn’t do that much for me. What I can appreciate is Beyoncé’s phenomenal performance in both this video and at the Billboard Music Awards recently. I’ve been to many a concert in my career and seen many more online, on TV etc. Barring U2’s amazing U2 360 Degree Tour in South Africa and (this might surprise you) Celine Dion’s tour back in 2009, Beyonce’s performance of that song was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The choreography on this track mixed together with the special effects was out of this world. She really brought it and I think while the song might not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, she took that into account and rocked the live performance of the track. Big up.
The album “4” opens with a very powerful vocal on the track 1+1. You might remember seeing her perform this track on American Idol a few weeks back. The track features lyrics like “I don’t know much about algebra / But I know 1 plus 1 equals 2,” which is surely a track for her husband Jay-Z. You have to give props to this power couple for keeping their business their business only. It is great that she can show off her love for her husband through songs and lyrics, rather than through the tabloids. The instrumentation is kept to a minimum on this track, which gives fans the opportunity to listen more carefully to the combination of the powerful lyrics and her vocal on the track. Number two is a track called “I Care”. It’s a strong vocal – not my personal favourite track though.
Number three on the other hand is great. It’s a song called I Miss You. It was written by upcoming singer/songwriter Frank Ocean, who gushed about being in studio with Beyoncé a few months back. Well he brought his magic into the studio and this track is wicked. It also leads so nicely into number 4, Best Thing I Never Had. The video appeared online last week (almost ten millions views) and this song for me is one of the strongest off the album. Fitting that it’s number 4 off the album perhaps? The track is written by a whole heap of peops including Babyface, Antonio Dixon, Patrick “j.Que” Smith, Shea Taylor, Larry Griffin, JR, Caleb McCampbell and B herself. Great tune. Two of the other massive songs on the album have to be Start Over and I Was Here. If you’ve ever doubted the power of Beyoncé, these two tracks should do enough, emotionally, to change that view. Let it be noted that I Was Here is one of those tracks that will make you question how much you’ve achieved in your life, how important it is to have goals and how imperative it is to set out to achieve them. Look at what Beyoncé has achieved in her career, the list is endless. The level of success this woman has achieved is amazing, and yet she continues to fly, to soar, to succeed. What a powerful tune, as is Start Over.
You might also enjoy a track called Party. The song features Outkast star Andre 3000 and it was produced by none other than Kanye West. It draws on a lot 80s influence; a return to the basics of R&B perhaps? It’s simple and fun. At first I wasn’t sold on this album. Now I cannot stop listening to it. It’s a masterpiece, cleverly crafted and created by executive producer Beyoncé Knowles. While it might not be as big as its predecessors (it is still number 1 though), this is one for the fans and she will pick up a few new ones along the way.
Do yourselves a favour and watch Beyoncé Year Of 4, the making of this album. Watch from 05:30. You’ll see her performing I Was Here in studio. Love it. The other part of this documentary that tags at the heartstrings is where she says goodbye to the dancers from Mozambique (@17:40 onwards). You’ll see her get very emotional as she says goodbye and how one of the biggest stars in the world remains humble, human and real. Power! I’m ready to book a ticket to see her perform this album live. Who’s with me?
1. 1+1 (prod. by The-Dream & Beyonce)
2. I Care (prod. by Jeff Bhasker & Beyonce)
3. I Miss You (Frank Ocean, Beyonce, Shea Taylor) (Prod. by Shea Taylor & Beyonce)
4. Best Thing I Never Had (prod. by Symbolyc One, Babyface, Antonio Dixon, Shea Taylor & Beyonce)
5. Party (Ft. André 3000) (prod. by Kanye West, Consequence & Beyonce)
6. Rather Die Young (prod. by Luke Steele & Beyonce)
7. Start Over (prod. by Shea Taylor & Beyonce)
8. Love on Top (prod. by Shea Taylor & Beyonce)
9. Countdown (prod. by Shea Taylor & Beyonce)
10. End of Time (prod. by The-Dream, Switch & Beyonce)
11. I Was Here (prod. by Ryan Tedder, Diane Warren, Brent Kutzle, Beyonce & Kuk Harrell)
12. Run the World (Girls) (prod. by Switch, Beyonce & Shea Taylor)
1. Lay Up Under Me (prod. by Stargate)
2. Schoolin’ Life (prod. by The-Dream & Beyonce)
3. Dance for You
4. Run the World (Girls) (Kaskade Club Remix)
5. Run the World (Girls) (Red Top Club Remix)
6. Run the World (Girls) (Jochen Simms Club Remix)
If pushed for a rating, I’m going with a 9/10. It’s worth it! Love you King B!