Beyoncé (released December 12, 2013)
T’was 11 days before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a soul was twerking. If so, I’d slap ’em in the mouth
The world’s best blogger was trying to rest his aching head
It was ringing like Kanye screamed, YOU AIN’T GOT THE ANSWERS, EDD
When in the other room, I heard such a clatter
My phone was vibrating so hard it sounded like it would shatter.
So I rushed to the phone to see who was in need,
And I see about 45 texts and tweets. Playa please.
The texts all read “YASSSSSS” and talked of “being slayed.”
So I knew it was the Beyhive who dared misbehave.
They buzzed and said, Edd, there’s something you must do
“King Bey dropped a new album, and you must review!”
So I popped some Advil and said “lemme do this for the hood.”
“But I know one thing, this better be good….”
A few months back, when Beyoncé announced her Mrs. Carter Show world tour, some of her staunchest supporters went ballistic, assuming that their feminist superhero was turning in her cape for an apron.
Nah, Bey was just showing another side of her multifaceted personality. She’s a mom and a wife but she’s still sexy and still snatchin’ wigs. Whatever that means.
Bey’s surprise self-titled fifth studio album is built on those principles, catering to her man while conquering the world. And once again, she’s fine-tuned her sound. This album sounds like nothing before it.
The album soars on its atmospheric beauty. Beyoncé’s voice wisps between the sparse keys and tribal drums of “Haunted” while adding weighty emotion to the uplifting “Superpower” and bittersweet ballad “Heaven.”
Honestly, though, this album isn’t so much about sound as it is substance. Bey’s power lies in her emotional lyrics. “Pretty Hurts” fights against media-manufactured standards of beauty. She keeps it real for the plastic-surgery crowd: “it’s the soul that needs surgery.” An exhausted Bey flirts with temptation on “Jealous,” seeking revenge on her absentee lover. “Sometimes I wanna walk in your shoes/do the type of things I’d never do,” she says wearily. And “Flawless” revamps her much-maligned “Bow Down” single into something much more meaningful. Instead of vapid, empty boasts, it becomes an anthem of achievement. It’s perfectly accented by a clip at the end of the song that features the prototype version of Destiny’s Child losing at Star Search. The victory comes in defeat.
Oh, and one other thing, Bey sure likes having sex a lot. A large portion of the album is dedicated to breaking off Jay-Z. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory. Even when she puts on her Freakum Dress and begs her man to “turn the cherry out” on “Blow,” it’s so playful that it’s not offensive. Sometimes, though, the sex talk drags on way too long. At six minutes long, “Rocket,” a throwback to D’Angleo’s shirtless heyday, seems to go on forever. It’s a shame because it’s refreshing to hear Bey step into neo-soul territory.
This is a “visual album,” which means videos have been filmed to accentuate the listening experience. Hopefully they can add a bit more substance to tracks like “XO” and “Mine,” which are OK but don’t leave an impression as strong as the more emotionally heavy outings.
Beyoncé may not be filled with wall-to-wall radio hits like B’Day, but it’s backed with much more substance and meaning. Bey’s ode to her daughter, “Blue” may be the most tender and revealing song she’s ever recorded.
Beyonce might be a mother and a lover but she is still the master of her own destiny.
King Bey still wears the crown in the family.
Merry Christmas, Beyhive.
Best songs: “Jealous,” “Flawless,” “Haunted”
4 stars out of 5