April 7, 2015

"Die With You" receives Bey-minus

In a recent Saturday Night Live sketch, Andrew Garfield casually drops that he’s “not a huge fan of that one ‘Drunk in Love’ song” while at a friend’s birthday party. This initiates a series of events that culminates in his imprisonment by the Beygency—a secret service dedicated to preventing slander against Beyoncé.

With this in mind, I feel it necessary before commenting on Beyoncé’s new song to mention my ardent devotion to all things Beyoncé. I listen to Destiny’s Child like it’s still the late ’90s. In my opinion 4 was the best album of 2011. My schedule is dictated by a Beyoncé calendar on my desk. With that out of the way, I can say with confidence that her new song “Die With You” comes as a bit of a disappointment.

That’s not to say that “Die With You” is a bad song, it’s just odd. But not in an interesting way like the feminist interlude by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in “***Flawless” or the crazy sex-hallway from the music video of “Haunted.” “Die With You” is Beyoncé’s anniversary gift to Jay Z, and the music video is essentially a single-take home movie made by Jay Z on a camcorder showing Beyoncé singing and playing a piano in an echoey room in their home. Musically, “Die With You” didn’t blow me away. There are no high-flying vocals or irresistible hooks like those typically heard in her biggest hits—but it is a pleasant ode to her hubby, and the stripped-down sound is an interesting departure from her usual music. “I don’t really need to be if I can’t be with you,” she coos over a minimalist piano accompaniment, and while she doesn’t exactly tread new ground with “Die With You,” it is suitably sappy for the anniversary gift that it is.

What truly bothered me about “Die With You” more than the song itself was how it was packaged. The song was released “exclusively” (I personally listened to the song on YouTube as a music video) on the new music streaming website Tidal, along with Rihanna’s “American Oxygen.” Tidal is being touted as the high-quality version of Spotify, and various artists have started adding exclusive content on the website so people will purchase a monthly membership. Releasing “Die With You” on a “high-fidelity music streaming site” like Tidal seems like an odd choice, especially considering that the audio is almost completely unedited. It sounds almost like Beyoncé is singing in a middle school gymnasium, and while Beyoncé’s vocals still shine through, they deserve so much better.

The song simultaneously debuted with a new Rihanna song that I predict will be the younger artist’s next number one hit. “American Oxygen” is catchy and political, and the music video is a powerful compilation of images of present-day immigrants and the history of the United States. Essentially, all of the places where Beyoncé’s song fails, Rihanna kills it. “American Oxygen” honestly blows “Die With You” out of the water in every regard, and although they are being given about the same amount of press by Tidal—because come on, it’s Beyoncé—Rihanna’s song is worth more of a listen.

Only time will tell if a studio version of “Die With You” will hit the airwaves, or if there is another album in the works right now, but for now Yoncé fans will have to be content with what little they can get. After all, even low-fi, somewhat derivative Beyoncé is still Beyoncé.