The new tunes that Beyonce dropped last night, “Bow Down” and “I Been On,” were bound to be polarizing — given that the superstar unceremoniously chucked her first new music in several years up on SoundCloud, and it turned out to be snippets of a trap-influenced self-congratulation and a sinister chopped ‘n’ screwed rap thing — and indeed, the critics seem divided about the merits of these offerings.
There’s no denying that the songs have swag, but despite that, it may be too much of a departure for some writers — if not for her ferocious BeyHive. Check the reviews below.
Spin called the song “schizophrenic,” writing: “Sasha Fierce is at her fiercest, shit-talking haters in a minute-long verse at the top: ‘I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife,’ she charges, commanding those bishes to bow, bow down. Shout-outs to H-Town, Geto Boys’ Willie D, and Pimp C of UGK follow, all chopped and screwed with pitched-up and-down vocal warps, operatic wails, and skittering hi-hats.”
Vibe noted how busy the track sounds, but didn’t specifically say that was a bad thing: “The song is perhaps one of King Bey’s most experimental tracks yet. There are a lot of things going on in the single: angelic singing, distorted vocals, dance music crossover, and Beyonce calling out her place on the throne.”
The Hollywood Reporter described the effort as “odd,” noting: “[T]he track is a far cry from the triumphant, glistening pop most are used to hearing from Beyonce. Instead, it’s a gritty, Houston rap-tinged track that features an empowered Bey growling, ‘Bow down, bitches’ on multiple occasions.”
The Huffington Post called the song “a trap-style banger” while expressing concern for how Keri Hilson is faring following the release (because thank God, somebody had to): “‘Bow Down’ is exactly the type of song that will rile up the Beyhive, Beyonce’s fiercely loyal fan base. That may spell unfortunate news for Keri Hilson, who recently admitted that she was exhausted by the amount of hate she receives from fans of other singers, intimating that Beyonce plays a part in stirring the hate she’s exposed to on a daily basis.”
The Prophet Blog wasn’t afraid to take the song to task, starting with the cover, which he described as “try hard Tumblr-esque wannabe hipster artwork… [that] pretty much sums up the unoriginal ego trip that is ‘Bow Down,’ which sees Bey boasting about how great she is over one of those trendy trap beats that are so popular right now.”
Our own MuuMuse wondered, “Is this just another shout-out to La Toya, Latavia and Farrah? Probably that,” ultimately conceding, “There’s no way ‘Bow Down’ is a proper single–it’s too brief, disjointed and ‘out there’ to be anything more than a ‘buzz track.’ It’s also not really ‘a song.’”