At first glance Beyoncé seems to be living a charmed life – a boyfriend who reigns supreme in hop-hop and pop culture, an international-selling girl group, a mantle of grammies and her self-proclaimed role of a lifetime via Dreamgirls. Could B-Day prove to be the cherry on the cake?
B-Day starts out strong with the first single from the highly anticipated sophomore effort, “Déjà vu.” Featuring long-time beau Jay-Z, Beyoncé stays true to the formula that brought her success on “Crazy In Love” - the Michael Jackson throwback vibe didn’t hurt either. Other standouts include the reggae-inspired “Ring the Alarm.” The Swizz Beatz fiery track provides a threat to suitors looking to steal this songstess’s man. Meanwhile, “Irreplaceable” easily serves as every scorned woman’s anthem: “You Must not know ‘bout me/ You must not know ‘bout me/ I can have another you in a minute/ Matter fact he’ll be here in a minute.” Finally, “Upgrade U” featuring Jay-Z finds B talking that sh*t as she evolves into a male version of Hov with lyrics like “Your dynasty ain’t complete without a chief like me.”
Despite the standouts, B-Day turned out just to be lukewarm. No songs were truly bad, however out of 10 tracks, the majority were simply forgettable. Rich Harrison, the mastermind behind Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” and Amerie’s “One Thing,” failed to replicate the same fire for “Suga Mama.” Equally as tepid is his “Freakum Dress.” The go-go king just couldn’t squeeze anything rememorable no matter how many drums or horns he added. Unfortunately, the same ill chemistry was created when Pharrell paired with B. on “Green Light” and “Kitty Kat.”
At press, Beyoncé mentioned that she recorded the album in two weeks with no parental or label input. “I didn’t tell my father or anyone at the label because I didn’t want them to start giving me deadlines.” Clearly, this was B’s stab at independence. It’s seen her recording style as well as the fiery lyrics. However, perhaps her entourage serves more of a purpose than even Beyoncé suspects. While the album was not terrible, it lacked the power that Dangerously In Love brought.