Home Celebrity Beyonce In Big Trouble If New Album Flops As Predicted

This is a rare marketing and A&R disaster in the making: Beyonce‘s new album, called “4,” will be released officially on Monday in the UK and in the US on Tuesday. It’s a potential dud, big time. Already attacked on Page Six in the New York Post yesterday, “4” was “leaked” back on June 9th to blogs and on Twitter. Now it’s officially streaming on AOL. You can listen to it and judge for yourselves, but this CD is problematic to say the least.

What’s interesting is that neither Page Six nor some testy blogs have figured out how this happened.


Blaming Sony’s Rob Stringer is not the answer. I think the responsibility for this debacle will rest with Teresa LaBarbera Whites, senior A&R exec for Columbia Records. Whites has been working with Beyonce since discovering her at the age of 9 in Texas two decades ago. Whites moved back to Columbia from Jive Records earlier this year just to work with Beyonce on this CD. (It was Whites who resuscitated Britney Spears on her last two albums.)

Beyonce has always been in a strange position with her solo albums. Her first hit, “Crazy in Love,” was a reworking of a Chi Lites record, with a huge sample of the horns and rhythm section. Since then she’s had really just a couple of actual hits–“Single Ladies” and “Irreplaceable.” Beyonce herself is not a writer, and she generally has poor song selections. On her last album, the song “If I Were a Boy” was appropriated from young singer songwriter B.C. Jean, who consequently got a recording deal with Clive Davis.

“4” is very misguided. I’m actually surprised that the collection is so uninspired and has no cohesive vision. The first three tracks are desultory ballads. There’s actually a song called “Rather Die Young.” Really? Beyonce would rather die young? Drop dead gorgeous, married to a hip hop mogul (Jay Z), gifted with a fabulous voice–and she’s singing about dying young? Who allowed such a thing to happen?

Better track sequencing could have really helped “4.” Tracks 8, 9, 10, and 11– the excellent “Love on Top,” the inventive “Countdown,” a very catchy “End of Time,” and “I Was Here” — are the standouts. I would have led with these tracks instead of burying them. (But didn’t Beyonce already have a song called “Until the End of Time”?) The new album has a feeling of being tired, and rushed, and not really thought through in any meaningful way. Those four songs should have been the singles and hits–and featured prominently.

Never at this age did Aretha, Gladys or Tina sound this disengaged from their own work. But — as pointed out in current stories– Beyonce isn’t just a singer. She’s an empire. Her voice is no longer an instrument. It’s a marketing tool. And not a very good one right now.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
15 replies to this post
  1. The single Girls was horrible and not reflective of the album,there are some nice R&B tracks in there. Im Beyonce age,and kinda check what shes done over the years like everybody else wether you want or not cause shes everywhere! and I gotta say those 2 songs Party and Love on top are easy listening nice. But the thing is WE RE TIRE B!
    PLease take a brake,even those of us that liked you are tired.we are tired of your same vocal runs,tired of your diva gheto faces and egocentric videos,it was fun for a while but cmon.Im sorry she can come up with the best album ever but IM already tired,tired of her and tired of her voice.Shes been almost 20 years…please go home with your children its time for other GIRLS to run the world!

  2. Oooooo…apparently the naysayers are right all along…she hardly makes hits from this “4 (the ass)” album…..the best she could achieve is a top 20 hits from the Dianne Warren song……..nada for the rest of this albums…….

  3. beyonce is overrated shes not as pretty as keri hilson ,,,,,, beyonce has no soul in her voice shes a gimmick thats it .beyonces stans hate keri hilson because her music is better ,,,,, knock u down and pretty girl rock are songs that never get old,,, noone is playing diva and single ladies anymore but knock u down wlll be played 20 yrs from now.

  4. I watched the BET clips and have to say that Beyonce works very hard and has worked hard to get to where she is, but…..she’s dressing and singing like a Vegas act. I notice she wears essentially the same clothes. I don’t recall seeing her in leather…it’s always long flowing gowns and Tina Turner swimsuit outfits…and I wonder if she’s patterning her act on Tina’s. It’s almost an exact copy. I also think that most of her songs are forgettable. She should get Neyo or Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, or somebody full-strength to write her songs, but she gets Tedder and lightweights to write songs that are basically forgettable. The album, what I’ve heard so far, is forgettable. She needs a total makeover and some full-strength management. You can’t be a success based on name alone….you’re only as big as your last hit song.

  5. Love on Top is the standout. It’s not perfect (why does anyone do those dreary Diane Warren songs) but overall, it is a STRONG CD.

  6. The public gets tired of arrogant empires that can’t seem to come up with any new ideas. She is one of those empires-you can fool some of the people some of the time…and so it goes. MMH

  7. Heard it. It’s a Black music classic. Probably her best since her first. It’s not what radio would like – but it will play.

    If anyone has a sense of what music (the art of it) should sound like – this is a classic album.

    For the best review – check out the Rolling Stone magazine review online.

  8. I used to be a fan but she got very tiresome. This whole woman empowerment thing she does is getting really old and everything sounds the same. With the whole Lady Gaga, Nicki Manaj, the techno, computer generated music…..she sounds really lost. I dont know. I wouldnt buy her albumn.

  9. I love the new album, completely disagree with this article. I also don’t think it will flop, her fan base is too big. We’ll see.

  10. Y’all might be tired of GaGa – but I’m REALLY tired of Beyonce. And most tired of all of Christina Aguilara (sp). That said I’m not going to hate on any of them – all extremely talented all very hard-working. Just not my thing exactly.

  11. It was ok. For someone who has relied on a big party hit to carry the cd, with ‘Girls’ receiving lukewarm feedback you would think that she would have added more catchy party songs! She will probably re-release the cd wktn a few extra songs after a couple of songs. She is getting older…maybe she was going for a more mature sound.

  12. You are out of your mind. “4′ is an absolutely fantastic album. It’s an album I can listen to with my entire family. It’s reminiscent of the R&B music I grew up listening to in the 80’s and 90’s. The live instruments & harmonies shine on every track, every song is gorgeous. I’m a college student and this album has been the talk around campus & on facebook, it’s fantastic. The only threat to this album is the fact that it leaked. Us fans are not worried about the quality of her music because holistically,we couldn’t be happier with her sound. I have already pre-ordered the album and will be purchasing a physical copy of the deluxe edition on June 28th. You must be a pop fan? You can’t put her in a box. This CD is a chill summer album.. we’re glad she went back to her soulful roots, but she’s taken this to a whole new level.

  13. Beyonce has a great voice, but I am why does she always have to dress and act like a slut? I guess she thinks sit sells records, but it takes more than sex to sell records…

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