When I wrote my review for I Am…Sasha Fierce, I pointed out how skeptical I was about Beyonce’s sincerity over how much she really opened up with her third solo offering, writing:
That’s why no matter how many times she calls it the “most personal album she’s ever done,” I Am…Sasha Fierce is nothing more than a continuation of the same format used to create her solid debut album and even stronger sophomore offering. Try as she might to parade her catchy and often clever songs as something innovative, her sound is usually a representation of what’s hot at the time – only executed better.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but the methodology won’t get Beyonce the respect she wants. Neither will it make the schmaltzy acoustic-driven ballads found on the first half of her double concept album seem any less impersonal than they are.
And last night I find out she nets an Album of the Year nomination for my least favorite album of her collection. Along with nods for Record and Song of the Year, therein getting the respect she wants.
She told me.
Let me just admit this now so I might be spared from the wrath of stans and the poisons that come with a root box: I was wrong. I will recite the lyrics to “Ave Maria” three times as soon as I learn them, and order up a chicken strips combo and order of onion rings from Popeye’s in penance.
If you don’t know how serious B-Unit is, see below:
I don’t need my baby picture inserted into car that blows up in the “Crazy In Love” video, ya’ll.
I can’t say that I’m completely surprised by the nomination. Although the album isn’t my favorite (I prefer she sings with soul), the album has just enough vanilla to appease widespread audiences. She knew what she was doing when she split the record in half and pushed the songs with obvious more potential to crossover. So, I’m not mad, but I’m betting Alicia Keys might be given she employed the exact same strategy with As I Am…which I hated to the core.
My only worry is that this will only encourage R&B singers to make everything but R&B music. Hopefully Maxwell’s multiple nominations (including one for Record of the Year) will remind people that if you want to do R&B music, you can do so and still sell and be recognized for your work. Likewise, I think the success of Rihanna’s of the world prove that being black shouldn’t limit you to R&B, which is not what I’ve advocating in this post.
I don’t mind singers exploring different avenues. I think Rihanna’s voice fits perfect for pop. Alicia Keys pretending to be singing U2’s B-sides not so much.
I get the feeling many people feel that if they sound like they have too much color they’ll miss out on a certain level of success. That in turn leads to people recording music more inspired by focus groups than genuine interest in a given genre. I just hope Beyonce’s success doesn’t encourage a bunch of singers who don’t sound good singing pop doing so in order to “crossover.”
Like Melanie Fiona and Jazmine Sullivan. Two great soul singers who squandered an opportunity to build on the audience that actually likes them with genre-leaping selections on their respective debut albums. Jumping from sound to sound isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it just makes you the listener confused and ultimately, uninterested.
That said, as a stan I’m still inclined to go:
And say yay, Beyonce for getting so many nominations.
But do I still like the album?
I mean, it’s alright though I still find it to be a bit too bland for my liking. I know some of you might assume based on some of the songs I’ve highlighted that I only listen to music that’s fit for a room with a cover charge, but if that were true I’d probably talk like Lil’ Boosie or somebody. You’ve seen the video blog. I don’t do, I? C’mon nah. I can read. I can’t always be jiggin’ to ignness.
In fact I’d likely quit life if a song like “That Obama” were ever recognized by Grammy voters.
As for Beyonce, I’m still waiting for that soul album she promised, but I imagine I won’t get it until she’s sharing diet tips with Chaka Khan.
I’ll keep holding out hope, though, and in the meantime, let Beyonce pimp these folks with her well executed foray into the world of schmaltzy music. I just won’t necessarily enjoy it.
Now about those snubs, to Whitney, Kanye, Ryan Leslie, and Dream, I’ll let ya’ll good folks speak on it in the comments.