Beyonce reps for singles with excellent single, not much more
Beyonce’s never been our most
innovative R&B artist, she’s just been our best. So maybe the
overused alter ego theme of I Am... Sasha Fierce might have
been enlivened by her fiery presence alone (just think: we get two
of her!). But unfortunately, neither Beyonce nor her other half can
salvage the limp and facile songwriting that covers both sides of
this double LP.
On the first disc (I Am),
Knowles comes off helpless and as emotionally closed as ever.
“Irreplaceable” from 2006’s B'Day showed her capable of
sounding strong and naked at once, yet on tracks like “Disappear”
and “Broken-Hearted Girl,” her commanding voice sounds unusually
thin. “I don’t want to play the broken-hearted girl,” she sings
on the latter over weepy piano. On an album about assumed identities,
it rings false.
The Sasha Fierce side is more like it.
Here, Knowles works her confident, fun alter-ego. Still, she overdoes
it on “Diva,” a Lil-Wayne-aping track based around the repeated
line, “Diva is a female version of a hustla." The side exists
in two decades: Knowles sings about both hugging her boombox in her
room (“Radio”) and leaving a movie clip on a guy’s phone
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),”
with its Morse code beeps and bounce, rehashes hits like “Get Me
Bodied” rather than moving forward, but it’s the only standout on
the overstuffed LP. She was never a singles lady before.