I don’t like Beyoncé. I think I may actually hate her. It’s the one main rift I have with my friends, and even amongst virtual strangers: people who only know me on the Internet have introduced themselves to me in person and gone on to say “Oh, you’re the dude who hates Beyoncé!” There’s something about the way her attitude combines with her ear for beats that rubs me the wrong way, despite her vast vocal talents. However, there’s definitely a chance (or a certainty, really) that I have underestimated her due to this hate being a central theme of my life story. As such, I decided to put my hate on blast and listen to a primer of nine songs from Mrs. Carter (as recommended by friends who are certified members of the #Beyhive), to see if my hate is real or if I just love being Public Enemy #1. Quoth Drake: "Girls Love Beyoncé." Boys love Beyoncé, too. Time to find out if I, too, love Beyoncé.
“CRAZY IN LOVE”
Figure I should start with the one Beyoncé song I unabashedly love, right? Positivity, basedness, etc. Anyway, this is still a perfect example of a pop song, even if Jay’s verse is dumb as hell. The bombast of the choruses still GOES, and Bey’s verses have aged well. The “uh oh uh oh uh oh oh no no” part will be embedded into my subconscious until the day that C’thulu rises to wipe us all out. Odds are, he’ll be doing the Beyonce booty dance while he does it.
Verdict: Still a jam; find me a person who disagrees because if I don’t they probably don’t exist.
Remember when putting Sean Paul on a track was a great idea? Good times. Anyway, I can fuck with this. The “Arabic” influences here give it a bit of flavor beyond normal dancehall stuff, and Beyoncé’s vocal performance here is pretty solid. Also, “Baby boy, let’s conceive an angel” is hilarious given the context (singing it to Sean Paul while secretly dating Jay-Z). No word on whether Blue Ivy is said angel; wouldn’t that be a plot twist?
Verdict: Why the fuck did Sean Paul not come out when Bey played this during the Super Bowl? What else could he possibly have been doing? I’d like to imagine Sean Paul missing the Beyoncé rep’s call because he was too busy tending to his hair plugs.
Another terrible Jay-Z guest (has anyone ever been able to get more out of doing less than Hov?)! The verses on this song are not bad, but Jesus, I’m okay with never hearing this chorus again. That DirecTV commercial was the worst thing that happened to whatever NBA season it premiered during.
Verdict: I wish I could upgrade this by taking Jay-Z out.
This actually is one of the best videos of all time, but the song itself is boring, with its commendable girl-power message clouding out the random synth farts and the bass-drum-driven percussion. The beat’s hand claps drive me insane every time I hear it, and the famous chorus runs out of ideas before Beyoncé just reprises the “Uh oh” part of “Crazy In Love.” HOWEVER, I had never noticed the bridge, which is solid as hell. It adds some conflict to this relatively safe single, which was sorely needed. “Like a ghost, I’ll be gone” is cheesy but her delivery there sells it.
Verdict: I wouldn’t put a ring on this, but with taking it out to dinner or something.
I wonder if this song would have hit better if a) video phones were an actual thing that people used and b) if it wasn’t followed by the superior-in-every-way “Telephone.” The beat goes, but lyrically, this is probably the weakest of these ten songs and the chorus lacks the earworm qualities from some of Beyonce’s best hits; specifically, this song could have used the “uh oh” part that I just admonished in “Single Ladies” The line “What? You want me naked? If you like this position, you can tape it” is pretty out there for Bey, though, and I can get into her taking that randomly dirty perspective.
Verdict: Can’t wait for the “Facetime Remix.”
Yeah, I still don’t ‘get’ this song. Whenever I asked a friend to recommend a song for this piece, “Countdown” was literally (LITERALLY) mentioned 100% of the time. I
Verdict: The mix is too busy, but it’s confident in Bey’s sound and it’s unique, so that’s okay I guess.
“RUN THE WORLD (GIRLS)”
Major Lazer did it better.
Verdict: Seriously, Major Lazer did it better.
Zzzzzzz. This song is the musical equivalent of NyQuil to me. Bey tries her damndest to make this song pop, but it’s way too slow-tempo for her talents. She’s definitely not at her best doing ballads, in my humble opinion, and this is the most ballad ballad that anyone has ever balladed. Also, “I don’t know much about guns but I/ I’ve been shot by you” is just lazy. But not as lazy as that hair metal guitar solo!
Verdict: Looks like I found a cure for insomnia!
“LOVE ON TOP”
WHOA. Where did this come from? Sounding like 80s R&B is a good look for Beyoncé, as it lets her voice take on that sultry yet strong quality that people attribute to even her worst songs. Also, that chorus, holy shit. Absolutely destroys everything in its path, and has me seat-dancing like a motherfucker right now. Most pleasant surprise of this whole exercise is how much I’m into this song.
Verdict:if every Beyoncé song was 50% as good as this, I would be a card-carrying Beyhive member.
So what did I learn? Beyoncé doesn’t suck! I went into this dreading slogging through each of these songs multiple times, but it was almost enjoyable! I found that Beyoncé’s vocals can carry the more mediocre of her songs, and when allowed to breathe and do their thing, they can make a good song excellent. On that note, “Love On Top” is getting that Young Spotify Starred Status.
Luis Paez-Pumar went above and beyondcé the call of duty with this one. He's on Twitter - @paezpumarL