[2 September 2011]
When Beyoncé released her fourth solo album, aptly titled 4, many were confused as to which direction she was going. There were moments of psychedelic electro pop (see “Run the World (Girls)” and “Countdown”), ‘90s R&B (“Love on Top” and “Party”) and straight-up pop (“The Best Thing I Never Had”). Many critics found it difficult to get on board with what Ms. Knowles’ experiments. Ironically, many indie critics praised Beyoncé for steering away from mainstream expectations and risking some bold new moves. The result? An uneven, occasionally engaging record that you want to like more than you do. Yes, she takes chances but they don’t always work in her favour.
“1+1”, the album’s third single, is a slow rock/R&B ballad, which is a lovely song, but suffers from the screaming and belting vocal performance. We get it Beyoncé! You can hit those notes long and hard—you don’t have to do it every time. A little restraint would go a long way. It’s a song that grates on the ears the more you listen to it, especially from the opening lines: “If I ain’t got nothin’ / I got YOU!” where “you” is delivered like an incontrollable spasm.
The video, fortunately, is an impressive display of a slow motion Beyoncé singing earnestly into the camera. The problem is that most of the time the visual display of her singing doesn’t match the audio vocal performance. It’s jarring, because you hear Beyoncé scream the lyrics, but in the video her lips move ever so slightly. Besides that, the video is call back to the ‘90s R&B female vocal videos of En Vogue and Brandy, complete with running water, sparkling body glitter and Amazonian hair. It’s a shame Beyoncé didn’t tone down the agression in her performance for this track as it could have been one of her best in years.