An Open Letter To Beyoncé

Hey gurl,

Let me start by congratulating you on your fourth album, appropriately named 4.  Genius.  Even though it leaked three weeks early, it has already been well received by your fans and pop music aficionados alike and will no doubt top the charts when it officially drops on June 28th.

That being said, we need to talk.

I’m a huge fan, let me get that out there.  You’re perfection, you’re a powerhouse, an icon, a diva, a queen, etc. etc.  I’ve been on Team Beyoncé since you lost your shit and kicked those bitches out of Destiny’s Child and forced America to just go with it.  I remember shaking my ass to “Bootylicious” at age 12 and worshipping you.  And not much has changed.  I know the entire “Single Ladies” routine and do it at EVERY available opportunity, none of them being even remotely appropriate.

But listen, there’s been something that’s been bothering me since your first solo effort Dangerously In Love. You have this habit of having about four hot tracks on your album and then filling the rest of it with filler songs and sleepers.  Upon hearing your first album, I thought this mistake may have been a fluke.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt that perhaps you were still figuring the whole “solo” thing out.  Learning what it means to stand on your own two feet as a solo artist.  And all your singles went number one!  Dangerously In Love?  Fire.  “Baby Boy feat. Sean Paul”?  Fire.  (Sean Paul LOL where IS he?)  The album was a huge success though, going on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide.  But I still couldn’t ignore the fact that the album, as a whole, was a bust.

Then there was B’Day.  “Yay!” I thought to myself.  “This is Queen B’s chance to redeem herself!”  The lead single, “Déjà Vu” was insanely promising, and the album’s release was the only thing that kept me focused through the boozy haze that was the beginning of my freshmen year of college.  I saved every bit of loose change I had in order to ensure I could get my hands on the album the day it came out.  When I finally did, I was heartbroken to learn that you had done it again.  The album had a couple of bangers, but otherwise was a mediocre R&B record at best.

By the time I Am… Sasha Fierce was released, you had cemented your status as a worldwide pop icon that was here to stay, whether we liked it or not.  And with that you almost had us fooled.  “Single Ladies.”  “Diva.”  “Ego” feat. Kanye West.  Video Phone feat. Lady Gaga.  We couldn’t get away from those songs and we didn’t want to.  And need I even mention the cultural phenomenon that was the “Single Ladies” video?  You were killing it, girl.  But the rest of the album?  It was flaccid.  It put me to sleep.

That’s why when I got the news that your album had leaked on Tuesday, I was less than excited.  With a lackluster first single, a bomb of an American Idol performance, and a last minute swap of the second single from “1+1” to “Best Thing I Never Had”, I saw another flop coming from a mile away.  “Run The World (Girls)” is decent, don’t get me wrong, but a female empowerment song from you is a little redundant because EVERY song you do is a female empowerment song.  You are female empowerment embodied so we don’t really need that kind of material from you, it isn’t that groundbreaking.  Plus, the video looked like a cross between a Balenciaga runway show and Lilith Fair.

4, I’m sorry and yet unsurprised to say, that this is your worst album to date.  It starts off with a ballad.  Who starts an album off with a ballad?  Who does that?  And is followed by no less than FIVE MORE BALLADS.  WHAT IS THIS?!?  My jaw was on the ground the first time I listened to it.  I just couldn’t believe you structured the album in the manner you had.  In all twelve songs, there are only four that can be considered proper pop tracks.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re great.  I’m OBSESSED with “Love On Top”, it’s my summer jam, my reason for living.  But other than that, the track list just seems like all of the songs that weren’t good enough to make your previous albums.

What I’m trying to say is that, though you are one of the best artists in the world, you are incapable of putting out a good album.  Even tragic hot messes like Katy Perry and Ke$ha (I know, forgive me) are better at putting out albums than you are.  I’m not saying their albums are better, my god, no.  I’m saying that their albums make more sense as a package and are more in line with the direction they are going as “artists.”

I’m always going to be on Team B.  But that being said, you have no excuse not to put an album out that consists of nothing but pop masterpieces from beginning to end.  You’ve got it in you, I know that you do.  So I’m asking you, as a fan, as a friend, put on that Freakum Dress and prove me wrong.  Make me eat my words while standing on my face in stiletto heels.  Show us the reason that you’re on a first name basis with pop culture.  There are so many ways that I could describe you, but all I need is one word: Beyoncé. TC mark

image – 4


More From Thought Catalog

  • andrew

    This album is a messssss. Run The World is legitimately unlistenable.

  • J in DC

    Loved the article — spot on.

  • Bernard

    I actually quite enjoy '4'.

    Unlike her other albums I feel like it's less filler and more killer.

    She obviously wanted to go for a down-tempo diva-style album and she succeeded in that.
    That's probably why I like it. Because for the first time there's a feeling of authenticity because this is obviously the album she wanted to make. (No label would ever want their successful popartist to put out something that has this less of a commercial appeal.)

    So I respect her more than I used to, I guess.

    There are still some snoozefests on the album though. (Hello 'Rather Die Young', 'Best Thing I Never Had' and 'I Was Here' – maybe Ryan Tedder should just go back to copying his own songs, instead of copying the soundtrack of 'The Social Network'.)

    Nothing beats 'Run The World (Girls)' though even if it's a total M.I.A. – inspired song without a message.

  • Alexander McQueen

    most of these divas are totally uncapable of putting out a whole good album (lady gaga, perry, nicki minaj…)  they have a couple of bangers and the rest is sh*te.

  • Meghan Blalock

    Countdown is 4's reason for existing.

  • Ryan Lee Gilbert

    This is fantastic. Incredibly well written.

  • Grant Sorenson

    Agreed. But I don't care because “Countdown” will be my jam for the next year without question.

  • ben Raifsnider, jr.

    i think the problem fans are having with this album is that it's Beyoncé's way of trying to distance herself as an artist that is only looked to for her “bangers” and hit singles. i am totally with you about the first 3 alums, in fact i think i only have the hit singles in my iTunes because the rest just didn't seem worth it. but when i DLed and started listening to 4 i felt like, for the first time, she was making good music… like she was finally making a grown-up album. i also think your argument about her not being able to make “albums [that] make more sense as a package and are more in line with the direction they are going as 'artists.'” doesn't make sense in this case because 4 is a very cohesive album. both sonically and emotionally, it does makes sense. there is a very kind of melo-dramatic build up to the “bangers” everyone is waiting for and it seems like she's trying to give us an impression of the kind of artist she wants to be rather than pandering to what you want from her. (which, by your definition, make a good album) with her first 3 albums, i agree, i don't ever feel like i need to listen to those as albums, but i do with 4.

    perhaps i'm just in the minority who really enjoy this album. i'm kind of obsessed with it.

    (plus, Andre 3000!!!)

    • Greg

      you def nailed B's motivation behind this album…it seems like she is trying to get invited to the summer festivals, pitchfork-review type album form. pretty sure she failed though…maybe next album she'll find her voice as a serious artist and move beyond the top 40 singer label

  • Ms. Pants

    P.S.  B, please start wearing clothing in your own appropriate size and not the size you were when you were 15.  Kthanksbye.

    • Sara David

      except don't. you look fierce as ever, and shouldn't be told what's “appropriate for your size.”
      cause daaaaaamn girl you fine.
      check on it.

      • Ms. Pants

        I didn't say “appropriate for her size” as I know the gal's got a bangin' body.  I just said the appropriate size.  As in, if you're a 4, don't wear a size 0 because it makes you look ridiculously stuffed in sausage casing.  Case in Point:  Her dress for the Met Ball that she couldn't even walk in, it was so tight. She had to have people essentially lift her up the stairs.

  • Jon Kristinarson

    you are my kindred spirit… that's exactly how I feel! Her voice is like honey all over my body, but she needs to learn how to make a cohesive album

  • jukie

    I don't listen to Beyonce' except for the SNL spoof, but your article was well written and succinct.  I am convinced by your arguments.  Well done.

  • Dylan

    Outside of looking like a tranny who had a very rough night, I never understood what Beyonce's appeal was. She's all image with no substance, her singing voice is ok but far from amazing, her dance routines are lifted from Bob Fosse (I'd rather see the real thing, thanks) and her music all sounds the same. It's like the emperor's new clothes, I feel like I'm the only one who sees nothing there.

    • Deb

      “her dance routines are lifted from Bob Fosse “
      Only thaks to my girlfriend do I know who Bob Fosse is, but entirely agreed.

    • Anon

      Her singing voice is FAR FROM AMAZING?!?! Dismissed.

  • mopey P

    “Run the world” has a killer video and she's a killer performer but oh
    my god I can't even handle 30 seconds without muting it. Also I
    love-love Bey but kinda hate her faux-empowerment/Grrl power shtick.

    Remember “Ring the Alarm”? I think she just picks the most grating bad track to release as the lead single to see how people will react.

  • Faisonct

    This album has the fans divided…
    I think I belong in that minority who loves the album, as well as thinking Sasha Fierce was just not her greatest album so far. Sasha was more visceral and real on
    B'Day (a funky a nd wild album) than IASF (her most commercial album yet). I think it is more a matter of taste. There are fans that love this album and say it is the best of her career. Most of her fans that love Sasha Fierce, and are looking for an album to dance to, will hate this album. However the album is in my opinion is really good. Yes there are a few duds, but overall it is really good album.
    I have to say that the tracklist organization was the big problem. I agree with you on how she opened the album…Unless you are Barbra Streisand, do not open an album with a ballad. She should have started with Countdown (which should have been her first official single as well).  Then progressed to I was Here. If it was organized better, even the duds would have sounded better to me.
    On the topic of her albums be duds but the singles being killer, I have to disagree with that as well. Dangerously In Love was a good album overall, but it had a bad transition and you get stuck with slower tempo songs (not a bad thing, you just need some warning). B'Day was her best and passionate, plus most of the songs were single worthy tracks (Get Me Bodied, Greenlight, Freakum Dress, Resentment were some of her finest works). Like I said before I am not a fan of IASF…A double album with only 6 songs (at most on each cd). The Sasha Fierce era proved to be better than the album…but still the Sasha fierce cd was two good songs and three eh-bad ones. I am was a lot better but not all the songs got a single release. Her deluxe edition made me like the album a bit more but I was pissed that THAT was not the album. 4 is definitely her most consistent and cohesive album to date. It is passionate and the vocals are murder. Also she sounds genuine here. I am a fan to death, but I sometimes feel little when I hear some of Bey's song, no matter how convincing she sounds with the growls, the runs, and the power.
    Once again this album is a risk. She is turning 30, and despite what some of you guys think, a lot of her fans felt that she should mature in her music (Talking about sexting some random man and singing about being a single lady over a fast beat is not convincing somehow when your married). This album shows that she can grow. Is it the best thing since slice bread? No, but it is good effort with emotional content and solid transition into a much more mature. Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey didn't make the transition well…and look how people responded.

    Sorry for the essay…

  • Darren Jackson

    The conflict exists in the conflict of Beyonces character. The conflict we got in her last album I Am…She is definitely growing as an artist, but what some people want out of her, I'm not sure it exists!? As a Pop/R&B artist, she has to deal with competing sounds. And competing fans. I'm not even sure if Pop and R&B belong in it's own genre for its seemingly contradictory appeal. And all of this is playing out in this new album, which I must say, I enjoy thoroughly. The Pop fans that she has gained along the way are probably going to continue to be disappointed, she is going back to her roots. She is going where every artist (fine arts, music, dance, etc) inevitably goes in their career: Authenticity. She is going towards why she began to make music, HELL why she was inspired in the first place. Most of her influences are black female artists that went through the same thing she is going through now. Whitney, Diana, Chaka just to name a few. All these ladies battled with, and to use a dated term that I feel is still applicable, Crossing over. Can one make a single sound that is enjoyed by both her Pop enjoying fans, AND her R&B loving fans? I lean more to the R&B side which is why I have no qualms with the intro ballads, LOVED everyone of them. But Countdown doesn't have that same cohesion…to me, sounds like a tangential influence.

    She is literally at the precipice of her career…where she goes from here is seriously invisible at this point. I would rather her be more deliberate either way, than playing the classic sad tune of a Ne'er do well Pop/R&B Diva.

  • hghhb88
  • eferf24
  • Kadyruth

    This. Yes. Queen Bey for life though. and with Andre? Ha! I die. Heaven so sweetah

  • Copptertone2

    lol why then did “dangerously in love” make destiny’s child for the most part cease to exist, launch beyonce into solo fame and establish her from that point on as her own act? If you are going to write this article and single out Beyonce you have a hell of a lot more articles to write. Picking and choosing who to hold responsible for not CONSISTENTLY putting out good albums is being a fair-weather fan. This article is disgustingly ironic, saying you respect her does not pre-empt the disrespect this article bleeds because there is a fine line between music criticism and arduous complaining. 

  • Lolcat

    can i just jack this article and plug in lady gaga for beyonce and pathetic dance beat for ballad? i think yes.

  • 10 Songs I Want To Hear At The Club | Thought Catalog

    […] is my favorite Beyoncé song ever. “Crazy in Love” was her first single away from Destiny’s Child, and no […]

blog comments powered by Disqus