Tag Archives: Beyonce

Beyonce ‘4’ – Review

12 Jul

Beyoncé’s headline performance at Glasto this year has demonstrated (whether purposely or coincidently) her percieved ambitions to establish herself as a serious, adult artist. Afterall, everyone is aware of ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Halo’ and their like, but could the average music fan name one of her albums? Has she made a serious dent in pop? In the lead up to the release of ‘4’ (album number four of course) we heard that Beyoncé had worked on over 70 songs, and had collaborated with acts as diverse as Sleigh Bells and Diplo. No doubt this was deliberately leaked in order to alert Beyoncé’s presence to the hip crowd, and it kind of worked; anticipation for ‘4’ has been pretty intense from all quarters. But actually ‘4’ is Beyoncé’s least contrived, least experimental, least ambitious album to date, and, despite the rumours, it features no unusual collaborations or guest stars. It is an old-fashioned soul album.

‘4’ opens with 1+1 (Beyoncé clearly likes maths) and it doesn’t hint at any major reinvention, it’s a pretty so-so ballad that basically serves as a demonstration of Beyoncé’s stunning voice. As nice as she sounds, the song is the kind of gushing big diva ballad that makes me feel a bit nauseous. ‘I Care’ is a lot better, it has a simple beat that reminds me of something The Weeknd or The Dream would conduct (in fact the latter may well have created it, seeing as he worked with Beyoncé on some songs), and if only it had a melody to match the strong beat. Problem solved on ‘I Miss You’ which combines stunningly simple production (courtesy of Odd Future cohort Frank Ocean), a lovely melody, beautiful vocal acrobatics and resonating lyrics. It’s here where Beyoncé reaches her stride, and the material from here improves.

‘Best Thing I Never Had’ does exactly what you want a Beyoncé single to do; it’s big, it’s brash, it’s emotive and it’s excellent (if a little too reminiscent of ‘Irreplaceable’). ‘Love on Top’ pays one of the best tributes to ‘Off the Wall’ era Michael Jackson I’ve ever heard whilst ‘Countdown’ and ‘End of Time’ add a contemporary flavour to proceedings. Only first single ‘Run the World (‘Girls) truly lets her down, here it feels like Beyoncé is straining to sound cutting edge and it’s an utter failure (and its disappointing chart position confirms that it hasn’t connected with a wider audience).

‘Run the World’ at least ends the album on a positive, upbeat note, whereas the rest of the album is pretty slow and laid back. Considering we were led to believe that ‘4’ would be a radical change of direction for Beyoncé, I can’t help but feel let down that the majority of songs are traditional ballads that don’t really set the pulse raising. ‘I Was Here’ and ‘Start Over’ are just about saved by Beyoncé’s stellar vocal performance but they are still bland, Beyonce by numbers, songs. There is no ‘Crazy in Love’ or ‘Single ladies’ – ‘Run the World’ tries and fails and nothing else even attempts to be as dynamic. This lack of variety, more than the lack of experimentation and attitude, stops ‘4’ from being a great album.

This is a fairly old-fashioned r&b/soul record and, besides a few choice signifiers here and there, there is nothing that places the album firmly in 2011, which turns out to be both a good and bad thing,  but it certainly ensures that Beyoncé’s greatest strength (i.e her voice) isn’t sidetracked by modern production gimmicks. Whilst it’s far from perfect, ultimately the album’s successes outweigh the failures brought about by the conservative selection of songs. ‘4’ is a solid front to back album with a handful of tunes that are destined to make B’s inevitable greatest hits – but perhaps more importantly for Beyoncé’s legacy it quite easily ranks as her most sophisticated and accomplished piece of work to date.

6/10

100 Best Singles of the Decade

17 Dec

Below is a list of my favourite singles released in the last 10 years. It was a difficult list to compile as I wanted to represent all the genres I listen to and tried to include a variety of artists and styles. I’ve kept the number of singles per artist to a bare minimum as it was possible Arctic Monkeys or The Strokes could have made up the top 100 by themselves! Coming soon will be my albums of the decade, and album and singles of 2009.

Click on song to hear

100. Hide and Seek – Imogen Heap

99. Ignition Remix – R Kelly

98.Danger! – Electric Six

97. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheetus

96. Life Is A Song – Patrick Park

95. Love Steals Us From Lonliness – Idlewild

94. Standing in the way of control – The gossip

93. Crimewave – Crystal Castles

92. Shelia – Jamie T

91. Milkshake – Kelis

90. Twilight – Elliot Smith

89. Muzzle of Bees – Wilco

88. The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

87. I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness

86. Shine – Take That

85. Funny Little Frog – Belle and Sebastian

84. Us – Regina Specktor

83. Off The Record – My Morning Jacket

82. Lets go Surfing – The Drums

81. Cannonball – Damien Rice

80. First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes

79. Fix up look sharp- Dizzie Rascal

78. That Boy That Girl – Hadouken

77. Stronger – Kanye West

76. Over and Over – Hot chip

75. LDN – Lilly Allen

74. An Honest Mistake – The Bravery

73. California – Phantom Planet

72. Love Machine – Girls Aloud

71. Lust For Life – Girls

70. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys

69. Two Doors Down – Mystery Jets

68. Molly’s Chambers – Kings of Leon

67. Buck Rodgers – Feeder

66. Umbrella – Rihanna

65. Forever Lost – The Magic Numbers

64. Nude – Radiohead

63. My Doorbell – White Stripes

62. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

61. Young Folks – Peter Bjorn and John

60. Ms Jackson – Outkast

59. Burn – Usher

58. The First of the gang to die – Morrissey

57. Knights of cydonia – Muse

56. Hoppipolla – Sigur Ros

55. Somewhere only We Know – Keane

54. Kissing The Lipless – The Shins

53. Jesus Of Suburbia – Green day

52. GrooveJet – Spiller

51. Kids – MGMT

50. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes

49. Clint Eastwood – Gorrilaz

48. Idioteque – Radiohead

47. Valerie – The Zutons

46. Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake

45. By The Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

44. Trains To Brazil – Guilemots

43. Apply Some Pressure – Maximo Park

42. Golden Touch – Razorlight

41. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minouge

40. All my friends – Lcd soundsystem

39. Yellow – Coldplay

38. Time for Heroes – The Libertines

37. 99 Problems – Jay Z

36. Mansard Roof – Vampire Weekend

35. Time is Running Out – Muse

34. Someday – The Strokes

33. Pull Shapes – The Pippettes

32. Hounds of Love – The Futureheads

31. Once and Never Again – The Long Blondes

30. Digital Love – Daft Punk

29. Thou shalt always kill – Dan Le sac and Scrobius pip

28. Loose Yourself – Eminem

27. Daddy’s Gone – Glasvegas

26. Atlantis to Interzone – Klaxons

25. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

24. Diamonds from Sierra Leone – Kanye West

23. Dance – Justice

22. Sea Within a Sea – The Horrors

21. Dry Your Eyes – The Streets

20. So Here We Are – Bloc Party

19. Ch Ch Check It Out – Beastie Boys

18. Hate To Say I Told You So – The Hives

17. Mr Brightside – The Killers

16. Paper Planes – MIA

15. Hurt – Johnny Cash

14. Dreamin Of You – The Coral

13. Run – Snow Patrol

12. All These Things that I’ve done – The Killers

11. Rock my World – Michael Jackson

10. Crazy In Love – Beyonce

9. Time to pretend – MGMT

8. Tunnels – The Arcade Fire

7. Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

6. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem

5. Hey Ya – Outkast

4. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

3. Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines

2. Hope There’s Someone – Anthony And The Johnsons

1. The Modern Age  – The Strokes