A Star Is Born, Active Child, beyonce, Beyonce 4, Beyonce B'Day, Beyonce Countdown, Beyonce Dangerously In Love, Beyonce End of Time, Beyonce I Miss You, Blue Ivy, Blue Ivy Carter, Career Advice, Career Advice Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Clint Eastwood, Diplo, How To Dress Well, IMO, James Blake, Katie Couric, Major Lazer, Robyn, Sleigh Bells, Spank Rock, The Weeknd
Some time at the end of 2011, I thought a good blog idea would be to give my two cents on the careers of some of the acts in the music industry.
Who am I to give advice??
Well true, I’m a literal nobody in the industry … but as a fan and Industry follower for a good portion of my life, I think I could offer some sound options to some struggling celebs. They won’t (or it’s highly likely that they won’t) read this, so what’s the harm right?
I was going to start with Christina Aguilera (have a rough draft all ready, so that post should come shortly), but I think it’s fitting to start this off with brand new mommy Beyoncé. This past Saturday she gave birth to baby girl Blue Ivy Carter after one of the most confusing and controversial celebrity pregnancies ever. And since said pregnancy nearly ruined the promotion of her latest album “4”, I just have a few suggestions for the next album whenever it may come.
In her interview with Katie Couric, Mrs. Carter said she might take a few years off, but knowing Bey she’ll probably be ready for another big era by Summer 2013. Whenever it is, it will be highly anticipated and expectations will be really high.
If “4” had been a major success (keep the same album sales, but have at least one huge hit single like she’s used to), the logical next step would be a full transition into film. She was already on deck for Clint Eastwood’s take on Hollywood standard “A Star Is Born”, but as Beyoncé told Couric that project has been post-poned until she’s ready. However, because “4” generated no hit singles, and minimal mainstream exposure, it would be better for her to come back with another album before becoming a full-time actress.
So, what should she do?
Let’s first talk the mistakes of her last album.
There’s really nothing wrong with the material on “4”, in fact if certain singles were released it might have given the album the hit single it was lacking. Aside from big hits on the HOT 100, the most important thing that was lacking from the album was something New! There were few examples of something fresh, “Countdown” is one , the beautiful “I Miss You” another and the flawless “End of Time”. They were all different in production, but utilized things Beyoncé is famous for (especially in “End of Time” matching a slightly off-kilter track with her staccato vocals, live instrumentation, multiple hooks, and strong melodies). Everything else on “4” felt like the music she grew up with, thus nothing really innovative.
With the next album, one of two directions would work and both directions would be taking her out of her element a bit. She’s had a solid discography, but the bulk of most of her albums have been pretty safe (save for her most daring work to date “B’Day”). Since she has now become more of an Albums artist as opposed to a Singles artist she really needs to start putting more risk and more daring-ness into her albums. It’s what she needs if she wants to be seen as a Legend.
One of the two extremes is to do something extremely loud and aggressive, which is what I thought “4” would be like given the early news that she was working with Noise Pop duo Sleigh Bells and the All-Around-Weird-Sounds of producer Diplo.
“Run The World (Girls)” was a mess, and that’s mostly due to the fact that a huge chunk of the song was a sample of an already existing and fairly popular song (“Pon De Floor” by Major Lazer— I also blame the verses which came off like rambling random-ness). The sample was Beyoncé again playing it safe, but if she were to go this route again she needs to force the producers to come up with something totally fresh for her.
(I could hear her on some Crazy dance/electro/dancehall mash-ups like Spank Rock‘s “No. 1 Hit“, Major Lazer’s “Hold The Line“, Robyn‘s “Dancehall Queen” or Sleigh Bells’ “Tell Em” “Run the Heart” or “Kids” — mixing her genius vocal prowess to soften the sound a bit)
If that’s too extreme for a whole album, than the opposite would be to still stay in a bit of a Indie zone but just a very minimalist one. I just downloaded James Blake‘s new EP, and the title track “Love What Happened Here” strangely screams for Beyoncé’s soulful chops to fill it out. All three songs on the EP are great for a new Beyoncé style, very different tonally but also very soulful. And James Blake made her Top 10 list of the year, so she obviously is a fan and I could see them coming up with some really fresh stuff. Almost in the vein of “I Miss You” which is almost an Indie-Electro-Ballad and it’s the best off “4”. James Blake, Tom Krell of How To Dress Well, Active Child or even The Weeknd could match her up with some very moody material to shine on.
(Other sort of lo-fi ambient electro ballads that would sound great with a Beyoncé touch include Blake’s “Limit to Your Love“, “The Wilhelm Scream“, “I Mind” also Active Child’s “High Priestess” “Hanging On” and “Shield & Sword“)
Whatever direction she takes her next album, us fans just don’t want the same old from her. “4” was a “Dangerously in Love” sequel, and unfortunately I get the feeling that Beyoncé will continue in that tradition from now on. Even though fans were satisfied with the album, it’s too early for her to get stuck in the Adult Contemporary R&B mode when she has all of her 40’s and beyond to do that.
We are ready to be excited again by her music, like when she released “B’Day”. She needs to make a return to that Sasha Fierce mode, full of attitude and sass before little Blue Ivy and her subsequent siblings take it all out of her.