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There are so many different elements that make up the machine that is Beyoncé . She’s an entrepreneur, producer, philanthropist, style Icon, sometimes Actress, wife, mother, sister. It’s easy to forget with all of those titles that she’s a recording artist First and foremost. Over the past 11 years she’s accomplished so much as a celebrity, let’s take a moment to analyze her art.

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Dangerously in Love

Beyonce-DangerouslyInLoveApparently Beyoncé recorded hundreds of songs, trying to fine tune her debut solo album and make it perfect. Over 10 years later, “Dangerously in Love” does stand as a great piece of work and a more than solid debut effort. I remember being surprised by the fact that the majority of the album was filled with slower songs, given the fact that the bulk of Destiny’s Child’s hits were very uptempo. This album is frontloaded with more contemporary upbeat sounds (“Crazy in Love”, “Naughty Girl”), but drifts off into throwback jams like “Be With You” “Gift from Virgo” “Speechless” and her duet with Luther Vandross “The Closer I Get To You” which all, in their ways, harken back to the 70’s R&B feel. Ultimately this was a good move because it makes the album more timeless, AND it was a chance for Beyoncé to show off her vocal talents. We were used to her rapid fire rap/sing styling in Destiny’s Child, so “Dangerously in Love” gave us a new Beyoncé who let us hear the power and range of her very complex and skilled voice.

Grade: B+  Best: Crazy In Love, Speechless, Baby Boy

 

B’Day

Beyoncé_-_B'DayAll these years later, this is still my favorite Beyonce album and the only one I can play front to back. It’s only 10 tracks long, but that brevity adds to the beauty of this perfectly sequenced album. As a sharp contrast to her debut, this album is mostly uptempo and FULL of attitude and urban swagger. The album chronicles in a narrative fashion a girl being so crazy in love with a new guy (“Suga Mama”), and gradually getting strong enough to kick him to the curb (“Ring the Alarm” to “Irreplaceable”). Each song stands on it’s own because of the confidence and power Bey puts in every note, but mixed all together “B’Day” makes for an excellent outing. It’s perfect for a party, but it also is (I’d imagine) empowering for women who are going through the different levels of a bad relationship. And the skill Beyonce displays as a recording artist and vocalist showed that she was a professional and one of the best in the industry, and only on her second album. (I’m not going to talk about that Deluxe Edition, I’m not here for re-releases.)

Grade: A   Best: Upgrade U, Suga Mama, Irreplaceable

 

I Am… Sasha Fierce

I_Am____Sasha_FierceThis double album is her best and her worst for a couple of conflicting reasons. On the one hand, with the Pop/Alt sounds on the first disc the Diva really does stretch herself and goes in new directions. Songs like “Satellites” and “If I Were a Boy” were totally new sounds for her, and Beyoncé did an excellent job of toning down her powerhouse vocals for the songs, being more nuanced and subtle to great effect. The downside of that disc is that it comes off as a little boring and often too mellow to listen to all in one sitting, even though the songs themselves are great.

The upside of the second disc is that it’s full of great uptempos and plenty of that standard Beyonce sass and attitude. “Video Phone”, “Diva” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” to name a few are so fun and infectious it’s hard to hate. The downside is that the second disc is horribly sequenced, almost like she just threw songs together randomly. The second disc lacks the flow of the first, and some of the choices don’t even make sense (like, “Scared of Lonely” is such a downer and ballad-like, it should have been on the first disc. I also feel that “Sweet Dreams” doesn’t fit well on this disc). “I Am… Sasha Fierce” is an album you have to cherry-pick through, and though it has some of the best tracks of her career, the overall feel of the album is too much of a mish-mosh to enjoy altogether.

Grade: B-    Best: Sweet Dreams, Halo, Smash Into You

 

4

Beyoncé_-_4Years after my first review, “4” is definitely still enjoyable. Though I cherry-pick through it, at times I can listen to the entire thing front to back. It stands as another timeless album because it’s so steeped in that old school sound of the 70’s and 80’s ( another reason I tend to think of this as “Dangerously In Love” Part Two). It’s not necessarily my favorite of her albums, but as you saw on my Top 25 Favorite Beyonce songs, a good number of the songs from this album ranked very high on the list. I get bored with stuff like “I Care” or “Start Over”, but always marvel at the awesomeness of “Countdown” and “End of Time” among others. So it may not have the quantity of classic songs, but the ones that are great are among her greatest. It’s a solid album simply because at this point Beyonce had gotten so comfortable and professional at what she does, and had grown so much as an artist, it really showed.

Grade: B   Best: End of Time, Countdown, I Miss You

 

BEYONCE

beyonce_album_cover8 months later, I’m still pretty much stuck on this album. Don’t know what I can say that I didn’t say in my first review of the album, but this visual album is nearly perfect. It’s so diverse, it’s sequenced so well, and it shows Beyonce’s maturity and talent at a new height. It’s a masterpiece for Beyoncé because it collects all of the things musically we have come to love from her. The album elevates all of these bits of Beyoncé, the artist, with excellent production value and the singer feeling more at ease and deservedly confident.  “BEYONCÉ” is really a fully realized version of who Beyoncé has become as an artist.

Grade: A   Best: Drunk In Love, Mine, XO

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