Houston Music

Beyoncé: I Am...Sasha Fierce

A decade into her absurdly successful career, this could have been the time when Beyoncé began indulging her creative impulses, taking on ill-conceived vanity projects and experimenting with other genres — a welcome change from someone usually content to make boilerplate radio hits. The title of her third solo CD, I Am...Sasha Fierce, even seems to suggest the musings of a spirited alter ego à la Eminem's Slim Shady or Janelle Monáe's Cindi Mayweather. But it's quickly clear that Beyoncé is instead embracing the career track of her hubby Jay-Z, who can't seem to get beyond the pandering mentality of gangster rap. Similarly, Beyoncé here plays to her strengths — namely empowerment ballads and cheeky, but not off-­putting, girl-jams. And so on this double CD we get "Radio," which sounds like Rihanna's "Umbrella" set to '80s-style synths, and "Diva," in which Beyoncé claims "a diva is the female version of a hustler." It's not convincing, and she's too sappy throughout the rest of the disc ("Halo," "Disappear," "Broken Hearted Girl"). Sadly, though not shockingly, "If I Were A Boy" is about love lost rather than gender-­reassignment surgery, and Beyoncé appears to have permanently settled into the crowd-pleasing mold of her risk-averse better half.

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Ben Westhoff
Contact: Ben Westhoff