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Beyonce is back with her fourth album, and it’s probably not the album you were expecting. Is that really a bad thing, though? Not a chance.
4 sees Beyonce really showcasing her voice: the control she has over it, the restraint she can show to really pull you in and make you a part of this record. Gone (mostly) are the hip-hop dance numbers, the fun, catchy beats and hooks. This is closer to Alicia Keyes than Christina Aguilera. The important thing is that Beyonce has the voice for it, and the skill to pull something like this off.
The album starts with the song 1+1, a slow, R&B style song that really captures Beyonce’s range. This is an interesting choice to start an album with, but it really sets the tone. There are moments of quiet, of sweet lyrics sung in a very simple way, and there are moments where she lets her voice go so that it cracks, every so slightly, before she pulls it back. 1 + 1 is one of those songs where you might not get everything on the first time through, but you’ll keep coming back, and the song gets better every time you hear it.
I Care is the second song, and it’s a little change of pace. The tempo is kicked up a bit, and the drums are simple, but interesting, with a dash of funk thrown in. There are not too many instrument on I Care, just a drum beat and a synthesizer playing a steady background note. Occasionally there are some harmonized voices to provide the song with a little thickness, but there is very little else. It’s a minimal song, and it WORKS. It’s also one of the funkier songs on the album.
Don’t miss the guitar solo, which Beyonce sings along with. It’s pretty spectacular.
Best Thing I Never Had is a strange track. There are some really radio friendly bits to it (including the lyrics “it sucks to be you right now), but the hook is not particularly catchy, so it’s probably not the most radio friendly song on the album. The music is really reminiscent of the theme to Baywatch, though, so that may distract you if you feel the same.
On the ninth song, the album takes a sharp departure. Countdown sounds like the Beyonce album you might have expected if she didn’t continue to change and grow as an artist. This song hip, and makes you want to dance. This song might remind you of something of a Destiny’s Child album, but with Beyonce’s grown up spin. If there’s one song on the album you MUST listen to, this is it. It’s a fun song, full of love of swagger and other hip terms! Listen here to see what I mean.
If you’ve hard the album, please tell us what you thought in the comments below.