Beyoncé

TrackAlbum
Crazy In LoveDangerously In Love
Me, Myself & IDangerously In Love
Naughty GirlDangerously In Love
If I Were A BoyI Am Sasha Fierce
HaloI Am Sasha Fierce
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)I Am Sasha Fierce
End Of Time4
Pretty HurtsBeyoncé
JealousBeyoncé
FlawlessBeyoncé

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Contributor: Rick J Leach

Quite recently, at the time of writing this, there’s been a lot of stuff flying around about Prince and his secret and small gigs in the UK, the resurgence of his music and the hope that he will get back to the heights of the music he was making 20-odd years ago. He even made the cover of Mojo and was hyped (yet again) beyond belief. Well, I love Prince’s music as much as the next person and really hope that he could come up with something as innovative as Sign Of The Times, Parade or The Black Album. But I doubt it very much. Sadly, I fear his time has passed and, simply based on the snippets of his new stuff I’ve heard, it appears that he is trapped in a bit of a time lock.

This is especially pertinent upon listening to Beyoncé’s latest album. Where Prince (see Toppermost #18) was one of the most radical, exciting and commercially successful musicians around, that mantle has been passed to the 32 year-old Beyoncé Knowles. Yet this is not simply a flash in the pan; this is something that she has been doing incredibly well since her days as a member of Destiny’s Child.

It would be quite easy to presume that Beyoncé is a staple of big stadium shows, prime time TV events and an A list celebrity, with an audience who are generally not interested in a ‘proper’ way about music. This is to do her a massive disservice and to gloss over the fact that for over the past ten years she has been making music that is not only remarkably successful in commercial terms, incredibly popular, but genuinely radical and groundbreaking. And she shows no sign of tailing off; the new music she is making is becoming more and more exciting and really quite odd in a sort of “where-did-that-come-from?” way.

There’s bucket loads of stuff to admire about Beyoncé; the fact that she has an all-female band, her intuitive grasp of what works so well, that voice that can melt diamonds, her clear sense of humour and an ability to speak to a wide audience. (I’m personally speaking here as a fan of The Fall, Crass and Big Black, and Beyoncé is up there with them for me.) It shouldn’t be forgotten either that she has had to work against the inherent sexism of the music industry. Could you imagine her appearing on the front cover of Mojo anytime soon, for example?

I am sure you have all heard, maybe in the distance, maybe in the background, on the radio, in the supermarket or in a bar, or while you are distractedly doing something mundane like driving or washing the dishes, one or more of Beyoncé’s many hits. It’s worth listening to them again and not dismissing them simply as pap. Something I’ve been guilty of, I must admit.

I’ve picked 10 of her songs here, not with an eye on selecting the more obscure tracks buried on albums or remixes available on say, Japanese imports, but tracks that I like and that I am sure you know very well. However, there’s not much here that isn’t worth listening to with a fresh pair of ears.

And I’ll bet when the first few bars of Crazy In Love kick in you’ll end up doing a little jig!

 

Beyoncé official website

Beyoncé biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #239

4 Comments

  1. David Lewis
    Mar 31, 2014

    No doubt one of the major acts of the last decade and will continue for another 20 years. As one of my students pointed out, it was destiny’s child, not destiny’s children! She’s not a vulnerable artist. Even the gorgeous If I was a boy is a temporary setback rather than a heart break. Great list.

    • Rick J Leach
      Mar 31, 2014

      Thanks. It was hard to pick just 10 tracks. Think you are quite right regarding the next 20 years. I can see her being around for a long time & really look forward to seeing what direction she takes.

  2. Peter Viney
    Mar 31, 2014

    I know little about Beyoncé, but I do know “Cadillac Records” and have the DVD and the album. She co-produced the film, and played the lead role. It’s hard to choose “imitations” but her imitations in this case are so brilliantly close that at least I’d Rather Go Blind and At Last are worth mentioning because the perfect facsimile she turns in is of Etta James. OK, not original, they copied the original instrumentation exactly, but to repeat this is ETTA JAMES she’s doing. Her versions are so good I’ve fooled people with them several times. I need to check further … my daughter gave me her Destiny’s Child compilation after I praised the film.

  3. Martha Rosin
    Apr 3, 2014

    I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind never hearing Single Ladies, Halo, or Crazy in Love again. Beyonce at times sings in this screechy voice that is just like nails on a chalkboard after a while. And I’ve just heard all of those songs enough in my lifetime. That said, I was stunned to listen to Beyonce (her latest, unimaginatively named album). It’s really really good. Up to this point, I’d thought Beyonce was just a singles artist (like Madonna) But this album is musically interesting, start to finish. And I like how she and her producers and team of writers vary her voice from track to track. It was a nice surprise.
    Totally agree with your comments about Prince. Loved him in his prime and yes he’s still good live but so are lots of artists. The way the British music press goes into collective hype mode (as it did for Bowie and most recently for Prince) makes you realize what an incestuous little bunch they are. It’s like they all sit in the same pub after concerts and compare notes, deciding en masse who next to fawn over. You can almost see them voting, “Come on now: What do we think of Prince these days? Icon, right?”

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