3 albums into her solo career, one firm conclusion can be reached about the music of Beyonce. She is an artist who continues to challenge herself and her audience. She does not settle for a singular, well worn style. As has come to be expected, I Am...Sasha Fierce is an impressive effort and concept. However, it falls somewhat short of the bracing quality of her previous album B'Day. Yet, this is not an album to be missed.
Dual Musical Personalities for Beyonce
While putting together her 3rd solo album, Beyonce concluded that 2 sides to her music were so distinct they needed to be divided into separate discs even though the 11 total songs would easily fit onto one. The I Am... disc consists of R&B-focused introspective ballads. Sasha Fierce, on the other hand, is uptempo, adrenaline-charged material. The result is 2 distinctive sets of songs. Aside from the stunning "If I Were a Boy," which kicks off the collection, and the sheer musical power of "Halo," the R&B ballads feel almost standard issue. Beyonce's voice has become a powerful instrument, but she fails to shake loose lyrical cliches and standard musical arrangements.
Experimentation and Excitement Rules for Sasha Fierce
Beyonce has stated in interviews that Sasha Fierce is her fun-loving playful side. Here it's quite obvious Sasha has an exciting experimental streak as well. "Single Ladies" is a clear throwback to B'Day's "Get Me Bodied," but then we move into new territory. "Radio" has a sweeping, contemporary club feel. "Diva" adopts a tricky, stuttering beat structure while Beyonce deconstructs her public image. "Video Phone" swirls and works up considerable heat crooning "press record, I'll let you film me." A uniting concept of the Sasha Fierce set is exploration of the celebrity side of Beyonce. It's often exciting and fun-loving but there is a darker underside hinted at throughout these songs.
Top Tracks on I Am...Sasha Fierce
- "If I Were a Boy"
- "Single Ladies"
- "Sweet Dreams"
Beyonce Stretches the Diva Boundaries
It is quite conceivable that Beyonce could be content to be a standard issue diva. She has the stunning looks and impressive voice to deliver powerful ballads mixed with the occasional dance track. However, I Am...Sasha Fierce proves that she brings the temperament of a restlessly creative artist to her work. As on this album, it's not always 100% successful, but it is well worth hearing and leaves Beyonce standing out as one of the top artists in today's pop music world.
Released November 2008 by Columbia Records