Monday, December 04, 2006
A fever I can't sweat out
She's the kind of artist that I want to like, but I just can't bring myself to actually drinking the laced Kool-Aid and succumbing to the madness. I mean, the whole all-girl backing band yet only strumming about 3 chords max was a good idea, I suppose (in theory only) and a step in the right direction. My beef with Bey — as cohorts who've heard me riff on the topic know — is that she doesn't usually sing complete songs, either on her own, or with Destiny's Child. If the hallmark of a truly great singer is their ability to shape a piece of material and make a song work from beginning to end, then the road from mere talent show trills and onto soul with sincerity is yet untraveled.
Maybe if she wasn't such an android of stage parenting, I'd be a wee bit more accepting of Sashabot-TX3500. But hey, I'll admit that the dip 'n pop strut of that damn Chi-Lites sample had me looking so crazy right then in the summer of '03. But then came the inevitable oversaturation. You couldn't open an awards show envelope without her lion's mane front and center to stop, drop & roll around center stage for comic effect. On top of that, the inexplicable 5 Grammys for an album weaker than 2-ply soaked in battery acid. The excruciating massacre of the English & French languages at the 05' Oscars in count 'em... three different performances. The reconvening and subsequent disbanding of DC3 on a farewell tour that lasted longer than The Pink Panther's box office run. The transformation from kitschy mallrat playing dress up in Mama's glad rags to Roc-A-Fella's gangsta's moll, surgically attached to the hip with her svengali, Jay-Z from South Beach to St. Tropez. I. just. couldn't. take. the. shit. anymore.
And apparently, neither could everyone else. The first single aptly titled Deja Vu was little else than pop's prom queen & king rehashing to lesser effect what made their earlier collab so successful. Looking like a crazed maniac possessed by a Yoruba spirit in Revlon's Fire & Ice lipstick on the estate of Tara, the video was a giddy slice of unintentional slapstick. The decibel shredding follow-up in Ring The Alarm which was chock full of Basic Instinct parodies did little else to restore the luster to Daddy Warbucks' longterm investment. However, with the release of Irreplaceable, Bee comes full circle back to the neck rolling badass she longs to be. And a welcome return it is. The instrumentation stripped to a mere acoustic guitar, percolating 808 and a simple verse/melody arrangement manages to encourage the most restrained vocal performance delivered from a chronic caterwauler in like.... ever. Leave it to those crafty Norwegians better known as Stargate and R&B's rookie of the year in Ne-Yo for crafting a chorus so catchy it'll take a lobotomy to stop you from singing it. Wrapped in pretty packaging, you'll find a trifecta of her most go-to songwriting trappings: Woman Done Wrong (Bills Bills Bills), Woman Thou Art Loosed (Independent Woman Part 1), Woman With Closet Full Of Shit (every damn song with her singing lead).
The number-one song on the R&B, pop, and iTunes charts, not because of its hell-hath-no-fury sentiment, but because it's more infectious than a flu shot gone bad. You'd be hard pressed to find a man, woman or drag queen who ain't uttering "to the left, to the left."
Hooks? I lost count at approximately seven — mainly the maddeningly catchy "keep talking that mess, that's fine/but could you walk and talk at the same time," which doesn't fully explain the record's worldwide popularity. Taken at face value, you'd think that everyone on the planet's going all Waiting To Exhale on their lovers, regaining their backbone and calling up the locksmith to make sure the creep stays out for good. Me, I think it represents the best of what finely crafted pop gems have to offer because it connects us in a way that hardly anything else on the dial bothers to anymore.
So after all the catty punchlines and putdowns, I'll grant her a temporary reprieve simply because my defenses are worn ragged and resistance is futile. I'm diggin' this a lot. But not nearly enough to cop that two week stream of unconsciousness touted as her sophomore album though. No sir.
Hell, I gotta draw a line somewhere.
- novaslim commented at 12/13/2006 01:55:00 AM~
It is what it is. Beyonce can generate some catchy bangers, but I just don't think she can keep up with people's premature expectations of her. I've pretty much come to terms with her as an artist. But for the life of me I do not understand the folks that have extreme love OR hate for her.
- Michael commented at 12/13/2006 09:46:00 AM~
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