November 18, 2008

Shortcuts—Beyoncé's I Am...Sasha Fierce

“Diva is the female version of a hustler,” taunts Beyoncé, a self-proclaimed one-name-wonder with a Jesus complex that encourages her to believe that she is somehow the savior of all the single ladies.

Hustling is what Bee has been doing since her induction into music via Destiny’s Child (AKA Beyoncé Knowles and the Pips), stringing along her interchangeable cast of background singers (i.e. band members) for four studio albums, prophesying the coming of the pop music Messiah—Beyoncé. Dangerously in Love and B’Day solidified Beyoncé as more than a prophet preaching female empowerment. Patenting her signature brand of booty-shaking rhythms fused with brazen lyrics, Beyoncé transformed into pop divinity.

In her latest autobiographical Gospel, I Am…Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé attempts to showcase her human side, as well as her stage persona, Sasha Fierce. Clearly, this idea for commercial success is about as lucrative as adding the surname Christ Superstar and believing it to be true.

On the supposed human side of this double-disc venture, Beyoncé attempts to relate to the common people by melodramatically belting out ballads with melodies that are more watered-down than Kool-Aid and lyrics about as personal as a public restroom.

The single “If I Were A Boy,” while uniting her band of loyal followers through its lyrical empowerment, falters in its delivery, featuring Beyoncé subconsciously claiming that if she were a boy, she would be a girl. The endearing “Halo,” meanwhile, sounds about as excessively larger-than-life as the videogame of the same name.

From the first few thumps of “Single Ladies,” it is obvious that Beyoncé’s ministry is best planted firmly within the clubs, where she can once again assume her role as commander of all her female (and some male) disciples on the dance floor. Both “Diva” and “Video Phone” parade this same unabashed attitude as Beyoncé raps over beats reminiscent of “Upgrade U.” Even her attempt at techno-pop succeeds in combining the futuristic pop art of Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance” with Beyoncé’s own soulful, bold vocals.

The rest of I Am…Sasha Fierce remains about as inspirational as Paris Hilton’s autobiography. All one can hope for is that on Beyoncé’s next installation, she takes her ego down a notch so she can rise again with a coherent album.