by Molly Lambert
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé: (mp3)
Molls McAleer posted the new Beyoncé track and she’s right, it is really good. It also gives me an avenue to explore Beyoncé and her spiel. May I just say that I can’t belive Sasha Frere Jones gets paid to write about Mary J. Blige and David Banner in The New Yorker. Not because I don’t think he’s a good writer (I do) but because I still can’t believe The New Yorker publishes things about Mary J. Blige and David Banner.
Beyoncé Knowles (Diva)
What I am saying here is that The New Yorker should hire me to do table discussions with SFJ about the relative merits of E=MC2 compared with the superior The Emancipation Of Mimi and the slept-on undersung genius of TLC3D, the album TLC put out after Left Eye died. I am a specialist in nineties R&B divas.
Mary J. Blige (Diva)
Anyway Beyoncé is really into dissonance. I swear to god she’s like the Merzbow/Sonic Youth/noise rock band you name here of R&B. That was the first thing I noticed about Destiny’s Child when I first saw their videos on The Box. It’s already apparent in “Bills Bills Bills,” with its line “can you pay my automo-bills.” She achieves dissonance through two methods of production.
a. stuffing too many words in with her phrasing
b. competing tracks at a million tempos
Because of this, many of her singles have sounded amusical the first time I heard them, only to grow on me with repeat listenings. They are sometimes like white people music, in that you can’t always dance to them. She is the opposite of, for example Aaliyah (and her mini-clone Ciara).
R&B is usually all about the groove, being laid back, seeming effortless, but Beyoncé (and her mini-clone, Rihanna) are about aggression, frustration, pushing against the beat of the song instead of going with it. In the best ones, (Crazy In Love and Say My Name) it totally works. Sometimes it sounds like a bunch of compressed for radio songs playing at once and just gives me a headache.
Top Most Dissonant Beyonce Singles
Top Least Dissonant Beyonce Singles
Bey’s other single If I Were A Boy is a generic ballad and I’m not really into it, although I appreciate Beyonce’s specific brand of feminism. Like Ciara’s similarly themed “Like A Boy,” Beyoncé laments the fact that even as an incredibly powerful woman, she will never have the same kind of power or options as a man. It’s kind of what Mad Men‘s been getting into this season.
Mariah Carey (Diva)
At this point I’d kind of rather hear Beyoncé do a cover/remix of Chuggo’s “C’mon, Fuck A Guy”. I won’t lie, this is mainly a plug for the newly refurbished This Recording YouTube. If you’re bored, you can probably find something in there to watch that will make your life 3% better.
Concluding Statement: Beyonce’s canon is like high-definition. There’s a lot of shit to take in all the same time and sometimes the clarity hyperfocus just hurts your brain but when it works the way it should it can really be quite spectacular.
Unrelated but sort of related. The new South Park was pretty good considering I watched it for free on my computer. The season premieres are never that great because the longer they have to finish something the less topical (and often less funny) it is. Matt and Trey have both more or less said this.
South Park parodying The Accused, where Jodie Foster gets raped on a pinball machine. Parodying the most famous rape scenes in movie history is totally ridiculous. The real question is, is that a Howard The Duck pinball machine? I would kill for one.
The Indiana Jones thing is timely considering it’s out on DVD now, but I’m really looking forward to the next few episodes of South Park. If there’s anyone’s take on Sarah Palin and the election I’m still interested in seeing, it’s theirs.
Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording
Boys (Remix) – M.I.A. ft. Jay-Z: (mp3)
A Milli (Live) – The Roots: (mp3)
Howard The Duck Pinball Machine Confirmed