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I Am... Sasha Fierce - Beyonce
Member Name: xx_nic_xx
I Am... Sasha Fierce - Beyonce
Date: 03/08/10, updated on 05/08/10 (119 review reads)
Advantages: A superb array of differentiating music, astonishing vocals
Disadvantages: One weaker track, the album concept could possibly fall on deaf ears
Beyonce likes to balance her working and personal lives, by splitting them (somewhat schizophrenically) into two people. Beyonce, being the woman you'd stop and chat to on the street, whilst Sasha Fierce (God knows where that came from) is the bootylicious power house you'd pay to see on stage. To mark these two clashing personalities, Beyonce decided to split her album into two different chapters. The soft and gentle songs being on the I am... side and the more upbeat club anthems taking the Sasha Fierce half. This is the first time Beyonce's released a double sided CD, but has it achieved all that she wanted it to achieve?
If I were A Boy
Smash Into You
That's Why You're Beautiful
Save The Hero
Scared Of Lonely
Why Don't You Love Me?
With a total of 18 brand new tracks, Beyonce really has gone all-out with this release, clearly wanting it to make an impact and, almost two years after its initial release, this album is still selling by the bucket load, going four times platinum in the UK alone and spouting a whopping 9 single releases (that's half the album). It's safe to say that this album is something pretty special, with all those releases, the somewhat expected drop in quality never happens here, with each single, ranging from debut If I Were A Boy, right up to the most recently released Why Don't You Love Me, all deserving of their airtime. These songs are released because, well, they're good, unlike some artists who continually release tracks from their albums, seemingly intent on upping their album sales and failing miserably to make any dent on the chart.
It's hard to be critical with this album, as, really all that needs deliberating over is which song is best (something I'm still unable to decide upon), and it's not just the single releases that make this album what it is, surprisingly every song has its place here, from the subtly brilliant Halo, to the almost iconic Single Ladies. The album is full of potential single releases, infact, if released all at once, Beyonce could have easily filled up half of the Top 40 Singles Charts with this album (the higher half, I hasten to add).
Starting with the I Am... section of this album, it's almost, yet not quite faultless, with the irritating Ave Maria being the only song that appears to be out of place here. A slow tempo French number sees Knowles singing beautifully to the backing track, yet this song just doesn't fit on this album at all and reminds me somewhat of the irksome Alexandra Burke rehash of Hallelujah. On a similar note, Save The Hero and Disappear, are samey in tempo, whilst remaining relevant and welcome on this album. The latter bringing a subtle serenity to the album, which, although the album doesn't entirely stick to, still appears to be needed here. Of the 9 tracks on this disc, only three made single releases, with the more upbeat half of the album occupying the majority of the chart hits. That's not to say that this disc doesn't have its place though. With the poignancy of If I Were A Boy, coupled with the acoustic genius of Smash Into You, this disc really does have a great deal to offer and would be a poorer listen without it, Smash Into You being one of the highlights on the entire album, this is a song that grabs you straight away. It's a slow tempo affair, with predominately a guitar for company that becomes impossible to ignore after the first 10 seconds. The Likes of Satellites and That's Why You're beautiful, both excellent songs, but serve more as filler here. The majority of the time, describing a track as filler would suggest that it's not worth bothering with, however, this is Beyonce we're talking about and she doesn't do things by halves. The filler here would be highlights on anyone else's albums, yet with the bar raised so high (by herself, and only herself) it's inevitable that there's going to be some tracks that don't quite live up to the rest.
Knowles isn't just the pretty front woman either, ever since the early days of Destiny's Child, she's been dipping her toes into the complicated and competitive world of song writing and producing. With the majority of the songs co-written by Knowles, it really is a testament to both her work ethic and talent. Production wise, everything flows well and all seems to be in the right order, with arguably the strongest track If I Were A Boy (one of the only songs not to be touched by Beyonce's magic pen) the opener on I Am..., every song seems to be preened and polished to perfection, with not a flaw in sight. With Beyonce also taking credit for the concept of the album (spreading it onto two discs), it's clear that she's had a massive input into this album and it's nice to know that some artists still do take pride in their work and Beyonce's passion shines through, throughout the duration of this album. That said, the idea of the two discs really isn't all that original and if you haven't researched it, it's likely that you'll take it on face value as simply being a double album.
I was surprised, yet equally impressed with the lack of guest stars to feature on the album. If we're talking about what goes with Beyonce, it's likely that your first answer will be Jay Z (seriously, I'm surprised these two haven't achieved world domination yet). With Jay Z featuring on a number of Beyonce's biggest hits (Upgrade You, Déjà vu and of course Crazy In Love), it's a surprise to see that he doesn't feature anywhere here. Instead Knowles has opted to bare her soul on this album and allow it to be about her and her only. However, upon release of some of the singles, there have been guest stars added, most notoriously Lady Gaga on the superb Video Phone, although, to be honest she doesn't add an awful lot and is overshadowed by Knowles, just like Knowles manages to steal the show on their recent number one duet, Telephone. Similarly, hip hop heavyweight Kanye West fails to make an impact when featuring on Ego and where Lady Gaga is unimpressive but bearable, West somehow manages to butcher, what's actually a pretty good song.
Onto the second, and, arguably superior half of the album, Sasha Fierce takes things up a notch with an array of up-tempo party songs that are bound to get even the most inconspicuous of folk up on the dance floor. Kicking off with the undoubtedly supreme Single Ladies. This is Beyonce's modernised take on Crazy In Love, with a suitable inclusion of some cleverly placed 'uh oh's'. It's impossible to ignore this song - love it, hate it, you know it. You know the words. Hell, you probably even know the dance. The video to this song has become a modern day Thriller and will undoubtedly go on to become one of the defining videos of the 21st century. This song slightly suffers from that omen though. Ok, so it's a great tune, but without that video would it really be such a force to be reckoned with?
Sasha Fierce, not only steps up the pace, but also raises the bar, surpassing previous disc I Am..., to put it simply, Sasha Fierce is utterly flawless and just when you think the album has hit an unbeatable high, the next track will come along and blow it out of the water. The base heavy tracks far outshine anything on the I Am... chapter of this album. For the up-tempo Radio, Beyonce goes all edgy on us, all the while, remaining radio friendly (pardon the pun). Speaking of edgy, the likes of Diva and Video Phone are something different than we've ever heard from Beyonce before, as a solo artist anyway. The two tunes are reminiscent of the Destiny Child hit Soldier, with that ever so slightly cocky edge that works a treat. Only Beyonce manages to tread the lines of arrogance without actually being slated for it - Mariah, don't even think about it. Ego may not be a track that grabs you straight away, but, nonetheless it definitely deserves its place on the album (without the terrible Kanye inclusion, of course), this song has something of a 60's inspired melody to it, again with that cocky edge infused into it.
The remaining tracks on the second disc, can often be overshadowed by the more prominent songs on the album (Single Ladies, Radio, Video Phone). Single release, Sweet Dreams unfortunately falls into this bracket, this one is a quiet winner, but after a few listens this easily becomes one of the catchiest songs on the album. Scared Of Lonely takes a similar pace, a catchy number that relies heavily on the base, with an accompanying violin occupying the majority of the song and it works brilliantly. Hello is extremely similar to Scared Of Lonely, too similar infact, however, the former is certainly the superior effort, with Hello being something of an acquired taste. Beyonce wails through the majority of the song and although it's something that doesn't bother me personally, it may bother others. This song does showcase her astonishing voice, however. One of the stand out tracks, for no other reason than it's just a little bit different, is Why Don't You Love Me. This song has attitude, with something of a club infused beat to it, this is the most recent song to be released, with a 50's inspired video and lots of excellent club mixes that suit this song down to the ground.
It's clear that Beyonce has put a huge amount of effort into her latest release and it definitely pays off in abundance. Although there is a weak link or two (the album concept and name being the most notable), there are actually very few weak tracks, only one that I willingly skip passed. With 95% of the tracks of this album real gems, it's extremely hard to fault this album and I look forward to Beyonce's future release.
Summary: Beyonce does it again.