Global superstar, singer, actress, wife of chart-topping rapper, mother of 2012’s most famous celebrity baby and self-proclaimed “modern-day feminist”, Beyoncé is one of those women who does (and arguably has) it all.
On December 13th, Mrs. Carter dropped what would soon become her fifth number one album; Sans promotion, sans lead-in singles, sans warning. Radical.
Rap star hubby Jay-Z, hip-hop crooner Drake and alt-RnB innovator Frank Ocean all make appearances. Despite this line-up, the self-titled album is a departure from the big, bold pop of the majority of Beyonce’s chart successes; it couldn’t be further from debut single and number one hit ‘Crazy In Love’ or 2008‘s ‘Single Ladies’, let alone the distant memory of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’. Fans of the booty-shaking, fierce pop princess are in for a disappointment.
All space and glossy, expensive production Beyoncé is nothing if not modern. Futuristic RnB, full of slow-jams and … Sex. Lust and sensuality oozes from every velvety synth and over-thought, eighties-inspired snare hit. Releasing her raunchiest album to date at the age of 32 and as a new mother, Beyoncé is effortlessly ensuring the maintenance of the world’s adoration and fascination; and make no mistake, this is legitimized by the fact that she is, indeed, fabulous.
Lyrically, somewhere under all the grinding and eroticism, Beyoncé addresses issues such as the societal pressure on girls to be body-perfect (‘Pretty Hurts’), postnatal depression and marital difficulties (‘Mine’).
Surprise release, straight to number one, sexy as a night with Scarlet Johansson, Brad Pitt and melted chocolate, and yet a pivotal problem remains: the self-titled album is, essentially, excruciatingly boring.
Undeniable highlights are fiery and fearless ‘***Flawless’ (“Bow down bitches, bow-bow down bitches”) and ‘Partition’ which sees Beyoncé adopt a Minaj-reminiscent growl as she provocatively raps “why you think ya keep my name rolling off the tongue” and “Yoncé all on his mouth like liquor” (repeatedly).
With the exception of the aforementioned, Beyoncé, though clearly polished to perfection by highly successful and pricey producers, lacks any of the spirit and zeal the world has come to expect from the sensation that is the woman who has previously sold herself, tellingly, as Sasha Fierce. It is, quite simply, insipid.