TITLE: I Am… Sasha Fierce
WEB DEBUT: Nov. 4, 2008
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 18, 2008
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: The standard version of Beyonce’s split-personality album is a lean affair by the standards of the bloated-CD era–its 11 tracks clock in at just over 41 minutes. But there’s something about I Am… Sasha Fierce that still feels a bit lengthy, and that something is the front-loading of the album with ballads. Not that songs like “Halo,” which brings together the big GarageBand keyboards that came straight from “Love In This Club” with some Whitney-style emoting, aren’t effective; it’s just that the good stuff like the slinky electro track “Sweet Dreams” (which leaked earlier this year in a rougher form) should have maybe come first, so that the slower songs could have served as a chance to recover from, say, the twist-tie looping of Beyonce’s voice that backs up “Diva,” in which “A Milli” producer Bangladesh was recruited so B could have her own “A Milli” beat for people to freestyle over. I’m sure there’s some split-personality-derived version for this misstep in sequencing, but no amount of metaphysicality will make me less likely to skip over the album’s first few tracks.
THE BEST TRACK: When “Sweet Dreams” leaked earlier this year, I was slightly disappointed by the relatively restrained vocal performance Beyonce was giving, but the song’s pretty strong, with a muscular beat and B barking “turn the lights off” at her paramour in such a way that underlines just why her alter ego’s last name is “Fierce.”