Beyonce’s ‘I Am… Sasha Fierce’ Turns 5: Stan & Deliver

Mike Wass | November 14, 2013 5:30 am

Stan & Deliver gives fans an opportunity to shake, cry and sing the praises of the albums they love from their faves.

Beyonce’s 2006 sophomore set B’Day sold buckets at home but international receipts were slightly down due to the LP’s heavy R&B focus — an unacceptable situation for a diva intent on world domination. It would have been an inescapable catch-22 for most artists: turn your back on the genre you love or stick with it and lose ground to lessors with a more commercial sound. Ever the innovator, Bey came up with a concept for I Am… Sasha Fierce that allowed her to please all-comers and firmly cemented her status as the queen of every existing musical genre.

Mrs. Carter’s solution was inspired. Her third album would be split down the middle. One half would contain the sexy, soulful R&B that keeps her Hive humming, the other would cater to a broader pop audience and showcase her incredible versatility. But how to differentiate them? Beyonce created Sasha Fierce — a wig-whipping, chunky jewelry-wearing pseudo-drag deity that she could channel all her outrageous impulses into. While Sasha pushed the envelope, the rest of the album would be more intimate.

The album ultimately won five Grammy awards, delivered four top 10 hits and sold multi-millions worldwide. That is an impeccable legacy but the story runs even deeper. Bey’s opus changed the way albums were promoted forever. By leading the campaign with the knockout double punch of “Single Ladies” and “If I Were A Boy”, she not only catered to two markets simultaneously but also prepared listeners for the LP’s innovative concept. Shortly thereafter dual singles became all the rage. That lead to the birth to the now unavoidable buzz single.

As for the music? It was truly beyond flaw. Beyonce finally came into her own as an artist — bravely testing the waters of synth-pop, alt-R&B and even folk music. It could have been an unruly  mess but Bey and Sasha held it together perfectly and treated us to timeless classics like “Single Ladies”, “If I Were A Boy”, “Halo” and “Sweet Dreams”. The 31-year-old reached even greater heights on 4 but I Am… Sasha Fierce remains an artistic and commercial triumph.

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the album, so we’ve asked some of Beyonce’s biggest fans to review the album track-by-track — from “If I Were A Boy” to “Poison”. So spray on some Pulse, put IASF on the stereo and prepare to have your wig snatched clean off.

Disc 1:

Name: Cameron Adams | Location: Melbourne | Twitter: @Cameron_Adams

1. If I Were A Boy

The first most of us heard of “If I Were A Boy” was the messy backstory armies of publicists failed to smother. Unknown writer BJ Jean had recorded the song for herself with hitmaker Toby Gad (Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, The Veronicas’ “Untouched” etc) and her label passed on it and through the dark magic of the music industry the song wound up in Beyonce’s larynx.

Back in the pre-4 days people were employed to scour the furthest corners of the industry for the best songs for Bey and “If I Were a Boy” was an impressive find. Beyonce’s version of “If I Were a Boy” was so strong — and out of character — it was chosen to co-introduce I Am… Sasha Fierce to the world with double-lead single “Single Ladies”.

“If I Were A Boy” is a white rock ballad essentially, but it’s also a singer’s song. Jean’s version is identical to the version the world loved, just huskier and with a bit of a country vibe. It’s no mistake Reba McIntyre is one of the many people who’ve covered the song. Harsh fact — Beyonce sings Jean’s song best.

It was the Freaky Friday role reversal lyrics that presumably drew Mrs. Carter in – a different way to backslap those pesky men. The gist? If she could switch genitals Bey could be a liquored-up, pants-down, call-dodging man-whore protected by the guy code cone of silence and displaying all the emotional depth of a thimble. Because that’s what men do.

And then there’s the unhappy ending lyrical twist, which in case you missed it, the oh-so-literal video rams home, with the emasculating smackdown “But you’re just a boy….” That video not only depicts Bey as the world’s hottest ever cop but proves only she make safety glasses look hot.