Cons: Poorly written; lackluster; mostly meaningless; Who is this Sasha Fierce anyway?
The Bottom Line:
Ultimately, I Am Sasha Fierce is a highly polished, energetic, but crass offering that sadly disappoints.
Original Release Date: November 18, 2008 Genre: Contemporary R&B Label: Sony Records Number of Discs: (2)
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles. As I wrote in my review of B'Day (2006), leave off the last name and her name bespeaks beauty, grace, and eloquence; and indeed she is a most striking woman, whose music career has begot a burgeoning business empire. But, although Ms. Knowles is a classically trained vocalist, her voice has never stood out as one of the greats in terms of dynamic range or soul-weeping beauty , but at least as part of Destiny's Child she made reasonably good music.
The same cannot be said of her long anticipated November 2008 release I Am...Sasha Fierce, a two disc CD that is supposed to highlight the two very different sides of Ms. Knowles persona. On one CD we have Beyoncé, the sweet, famine, (almost) fragile female, serenading us with songs of love scorned, and then found again, in all of its rhapsodized beauty. On the other CD, we have a hipper, wiser, (bad) Beyoncé, or Sasha Fierce, the strong woman who would die before she let a man play her again.
While disc (1) is soft, dare I say eloquent, sweet and ballad filled, disc (2) is hard driving, street, "fierce", with enough hip-hop musical queues to give Sasha Fierce street credentials. It's not a stretch to state the CD was meant as a gimmick, which largely tanked with me, but apparently not with the public at large, because I Am...Sasha Fierce debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making this Ms. Knowles' third consecutive number one CD.
I was initially attracted to the CD(s) based on the simultaneously released singles-one each from each disc-If I Were A Boy (disc 1), and from disc 2, Singles Ladies (Put a Ring on It). The simultaneously released tracks were no doubt meant to demonstrate the duality-the flip side as it were-of Beyoncé's personae. On the one musical hand, the "'Beyoncé'" disc's admittedly poignant-and quickly answered by R Kelly among others-If I Were a Boy ascends with melodic indignation and unwavering role reversal sentiments (''If I were a boy/even just for a day...drink beer with the guys/and chase after girls...I were a boy/I think I could understand/How it feels to be a woman/I swear I'd be a better man").
Meanwhile on the "Sasha'" disc, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), is pure girl-power sassy with bouncy hypnotically contagious hand claps and post-kicked-to-the curb bravado ("Kept crying my tears/For three good years/You can't be mad at me"). One has to wonder if Mr. Jay Z was not the subject of this high-stepping, estrogen-powered lyrical kiss-off, or if he was at least threatened by it real life equivalent, which is why Beyoncé finally got a ring on it! Indeed, I wondered if Mr. Z was the subject of Sasha Fierce's musical rants.
The two aforementioned singles aside I Am...Sasha Fierce goes decidedly downhill. While the Beyoncé side did have some notable ballad's-I loved the opening guitar string work on track No. 3 Disappear, and Track No. 4 Broken-Hearted Girl was laudable for its beautiful piano work-aside from the Single Ladies, the Sasha Fierce disc was mostly a disjoined, unintelligible waste.
In other words I didn't enjoy the musical ride at all. Buried within the Sasha Fierce disc, Beyoncé's voice is never more than a footnote; there is just too much going on; too much noise, too many background singers, too many instruments, too much wasted energy. On many of the tracks Beyonce does little more than screech out intelligible lyrics, and after a while this cacophony of unsavory, uninspired sounds set my nerves on edge. Sort of like B'Day!
Reportedly Knowles spent a year working on I Am...Sasha Fierce and co-wrote and produced over seventy songs, though only 13 made it to the tow disc (standard edition), while 19 can be had with the deluxe edition of the album. It's a shame something more enlightened couldn't have come from that time.
Ultimately, as intended,I Am...Sasha Fierce wears two faces, both of which are highly polished, and energetic, but only the Beyoncé persona works for me; Sasha Fierce mostly disappoints because when all is said, and sung, I have seen, heard, and dismissed her already as crass and sadly disappointing. While there a few bright spots, I Am...Sasha Fierce is style and status over substance, which may endear the dual CD's to most of today's taste challenged young audience, but does nothing for those of us who crave something deeper and more profound, dare I say soulful in our R&B.
1. If I Were Boy 2. Halo 3. Disappear 4. Broken-Hearted Girl 5. Ave Maria 6. Satellites 7. Save The Hero Disc (2) 1. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) 2. Radio 3. Diva 4. Sweet Dreams 5. Video Phone 6. Why Don't You Love Me
The standard edition of Beyoncé's "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" features 11 songs spread across 2 discs. In my opinion, "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" is more engaging and far more mature than her previous release "B'Day". "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" features a load of ballads in her usual, big voice, big production manner. It also features more urban-sounding songs that are very different from her past releases. While I feel this release is fun and worth purchasing, I don't believe the standard edition is as strong … more
The 16-track deluxe version of Beyoncé's "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" is, in my opinion, the best solo release from this artist. While "Dangerously In Love" and "B'Day" were both good cds, this one is far more mature and stronger from start to finish than the other releases which sound a bit juvenile compared to this. What works best for this release is Beyoncé's willingness to put out two discs with very different vibes and directions; the first discs features a slew of ballads that definitely make … more
The latest outing from former Destiny's Child starlet Beyoncé is an intentionally schizophrenic affair. Splitting herself into two separate characters--herself and alter ego Sasha Fierce--is the artist's way of presenting what she obviously sees as an artistic duality. The first set,I Am..., is intended give a glimpse beneath the surface of her usual R&B-pop persona. Featuring recent single “If I Was a Boy", the soaring “Halo", and ballads like “Disappear", and “Ave Maria", it seems her “real" self is way more saccharine than the lady that brought us sassy pop moments like “Crazy in Love" and “Baby Boy". That side of her personality comes rushing back out onSasha Fierce, a more rousing collection that kicks off with the infectious handclaps of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", ventures into Euro-dance territory with “Radio", and gets surprisingly risque with the voyeuristic “Video Phone". Which part of the album you enjoy most will depend on your musical proclivities, but the new, bifurcated Beyoncé ensures there's enough diversity to satisfy the most demanding pop aficionado.--Danny McKenna