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4.2 out of 5 stars175
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Let's be clear. Beyonce Knowles has a fine voice. No, hang on a sec.
Beyonce Knowles has a GREAT voice. One of the best on the planet in fact!
What makes '4' the standout album of her career so-far is not just its
coherence but that she seems to have found greater focus and power than
ever before in these twelve splendid performances.
Her singing is inspired, passionate, fearless and utterly committed.

Jump straight to 'Miss You' (a number co-written with Frank Ocean) to
experience that magical mixture of power and restraint which very few
other singers in the world are able to match. Ms Knowles inhabits a song
and brings it to life with impeccable technique and real burning emotion.

Even the Diane Warren (pop-anthem-by-numbers) composition 'I Was Here'
is given a stirring and believable performance (a small wonder in itself!)

There is a strongly optimistic streak running through the album.
On 'Run The World (Girls)' one might imagine her astride a golden
chariot leading an army of women in killer heels across an arid desert
to a new promised land. Popular politics has rarely been such fabulous fun!

It's those big, ecstatic ballads which really shine through though!
'Best Thing I Never Had' is a cracking example. (It gave me goosebumps!)
Soulful, refined and absolutely magnificent! The beautiful 'I Care' comes
a very close second, however, in the rip-your-heart-to-shreds stakes!

Mercifully Ms Knowles bucks the current trend for the overinclusion
of celebrity friends. Andre 3000 pops up on 'Party' and is a well-
behaved (and amusing) guest and that's about it. The harmonies are stunning!

'4' isn't an album for the dancefloor. It's an entirely credible sidestep
into a more personal and reflective musical landscape. It's a gift!

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* 1+1 *
Beyonce expresses her endless love to Jay-Z, delivers sweeping statements about the power of their relationship and, umm, that's it. I don't think that it's a bad track, it's just a safe, well used formula. Beyonce's vocals are amazing on this though, so it is a nice album opener.
I like how the strings and Beyonce's emotive vocals combine together for a passionate delivery, but the most generous about this track I am after a month of repeated listening is to call it 'a grower'. Various reviewers have likened 1 + 1 to Halo, but this doesn't compare to Halo as far as I'm concerned.

* I Care *
This is one of my favourite tracks.
Beyonce is saying how she's in a dead-end relationship with someone and how she's trying to work on it, but her partner has clearly stopped caring for her, which is hurting her. She's saying that she still cares for him and can't walk away, despite the writing on the wall. What makes Beyonce's slower songs so powerful is that she can pack the required emotions into her voice.
I'm not too sure how to describe the music to songs; so simply put this is a slower track, with soft percussion's. It reminds me of when my parents listened to their Dina Carroll albums when I was young. Most of the album tracks use a similar, vintage soul feel to the music.

* I Miss You *
Another of my favourites.
This is simple but effective; Beyonce is admitting to missing someone, even though it means that she has to swallow her pride to let them know. Beyonce's emotive vocals carry on the heavy, somber tones nicely from the previous track.
I don't want to needlessly repeat myself, but, once again this is a slower track, with soft percussion's. Normally I think songs that sound similar shouldn't be placed next to each other, but I Care and I Miss You seem to be a continuing story and they flow nicely together.

* Best Thing I Never Had *
This is quite a simple track - although the lyrical content is strong. Beyonce tells us that she feels happy to have left someone who did not realise what a good thing he'd had until it was way too late and she had gone.
The mid-tempo pop/R&B ballad music is very radio friendly and I can hear echos of Irreplaceable and If I Were a Boy in the musical style. I think that the piano used in the intro and outro lift the song up a level.

* Party (featuring Andre 3000) *
[Samples the Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick song La Di Da Di]
Both the intro and outro to Party are performed by Kanye West, but his parts don't really add anything to the song; does anyone here know what he means by swagu? Beyonce's verses alone are OK, but nothing special. She's basically telling someone that tonight is THE night, wink wink. It's Andre's rap that gives this song it's life - it doesn't really feel like it's going anywhere, until we get to his verse.
We stick with the mid-tempo R&B music for this and, one again, the result is very radio friendly - much more so then the slower tracks [even though the slower songs have stronger lyrics]. This is bound to be on the record label's possible single list.

* Rather Die Young *
We're back to Beyonce gushing over how much Jay-z means to her. There's much to say here; she'd give up everything for him and she'd also rather die young then go on without him if he were no longer around.
The low tempo R&B screams 70's soul to me. This vintage feel does fit fantastically well with Beyonce's raw vocals, making an otherwise average song some spark and raising it up an level. It's middle of the road for me overall: it's above average, but it still doesn't stand out.

* Start Over *
This is my favourite song on the album.
Her relationship is stalling, but she's saying that whilst she's not ready to walk away, she doesn't want to settle for the way things have gone somewhat flat. She instead wants to rebuild things from the base up.
We're back to slow soul, with soft percussion's now. Almost all of my favourite tracks have the same musical influence to them - must be the childhood memories they bring to mind influencing me.

* Love On Top *
Jay-Z makes Beyonce's sunrise, the birds song... Seriously; whilst real love isn't perfect, it's more then worth it seems to be the message on this track. Nothing else to say, but that doesn't mean that isn't a good song, as it is.
This would fit perfectly with Dream Girls; I can envision a soul group having a lot of fun with it. The beat picks up and the saxophone in it adds a dollop of attitude to the mix.

* Countdown *

[Samples the Boyz II Men song Uhh Ahh]
The lyrics take little part of other album tracks. The overall message is similar to Love On Top; love is worth riding the waves so to speak. A line in the chorus includes "killing me softly", a shout-out to The Fugees or a coincidence? Beyonce is vocally more upbeat here then she is on the other album tracks.
The mid-tone R&B has strong reggae beats to it, which livens it up and makes it both cheerful and memorable. It seems quite summery, so could make for a nice single.

* End Of Time *
Another standout track.
Beyonce's vocals portray more confidence through to the vocals; she knows that she can give someone everything they could ever need, and it can be all theirs if they admit to wanting and needing it.
The music fuses hip hop and classic dancehall styles together and has a strong military march like drum beat running throughout it. It is similar to 'Single Ladies' in that it's nearly impossible to sit still when it's playing; it begs you to get up and dance. The synths in the opening seem to build up into a voice chanting "don't f**k with me", but maybe that's just my dirty ears.

* I Was Here *
This one of two tracks that doesn't lyrically fit in with the other album tracks themes of relationships and love. Beyonce is telling use that shes achieved all that she's set out out to do and she has left her mark on the world. It sounds very final to me.
Whilst this tracks is a lyrical mismatch on 4, the music ensures that it does still flow with the
album neatly - it fuses low tempo, ballady R&b with soul, which makes the song even more somber then it was already.

* Run The World (Girls) *
[Samples the Major Lazer song Pon de Floor]
A assertive female empowerment song, that travels along the same vein as Independent Women, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), and Diva. I do like it, but the lyrical content and aggressive vocal delivery does not fit on the album, so it doesn't flow with the other tracks and sticks out of place. No wonder it's the final track on the regular edition of the album.
The music is very similar to End Of Time; again fusing hip hop and classic dancehall styles together and again using a military drum beat, which perfectly matches the aggressive vocal delivery. It is also another get-up-and-boogie track. I don't think that it was a good choice for a single, as it doesn't give a taster of the album's material.

Ever since I read that Beyonce admitted that she'd handed in 72 songs to her label in preparation for the album's release and that the label bosses call 4 a "mixed musical gumbo" I'd been expecting a sequel of sorts to the B'Day album: I'd assumed that the individual tracks would be a diverse mix of genres, seemingly random in the topics selected like her second solo album had been. Plus both of the album titles are celebrations of her birthday - I took it as a sign.
When I first heard the tracks [they leaked online a month before the album's official release] I was very disappointed; there isn't a nice variety in the musical styles at all, there are a few upbeat R&B mid tempo tracks on here, but most of the tracks are retro soulful ballads. Many fans of Beyonce love her ballads, but I was never a huge fan of them - after a while they all start to sound the same as she's been with Jay-Z for almost a decade now and whilst it is great that they've lasted and are still deeply in love, there are only so many ways which she can tell tell us that. Isn't there?
Well 4 will either convert you into a fan of her ballads with it's superior lyrical content, or it will send you to sleep. It was quite risky for someone who is known for her jelly shaking pop/dance numbers and is a love it or hate it album. To fully appreciate 4 you need to listen to the lyrics - this album's biggest strength is in the song writing, as there are no pop/dance numbers on here. I think that the lack of lighter, fun get-up-and-boogie tracks may result in lower then average sales, will be a crying shame as Beyonce's emotive vocals and ever-growing song writing skills are displayed to their best advantage on 4.

Overall: I think that the lyrical content of 4 passes the material passes the level of that on her I Am... Sasha Fierce album. But B'day still nudges ahead for me as my favourite album from her, simply because there is more variation in musical styles.
This is also a solid album for those who are fans of the soundtracks for Dream Girls, Cadillac Records and The Fighting Temptations, and/or the Destiny's Child original line-up.
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on 15 September 2011
I am a Beyonce fan, but I also like the rain - that doesn't mean I want it to happen on the day of a BBQ.
Basically my honest opinion still stands regardless if I find her this generations talent; icon.
So this review is coming from someone who knows great music (bob dylan, beatles, rolling stones, oasis, sly and the family stone, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen and the E street band), great albums and this album is excellant.
What does one do when they can do no wrong - do wrong. She doesn't. 16 grammies and countless awards gained all around the world. The understandbly great dance retro act everyone is pulling in a typical reusble beats/lyrics (babble) that fills the top 10, "B" comes back and by passes all of that and makes an album of her best work - anthems, reclusive poetry, teenage fantasy, old school jams, pop art and more.

She makes an intentionally diverse in genre (even per song) with the mentality of this is my fourth album, you shall hear my growth fore I am pulling no punches and have earnt the right in my career to say what I feel people, the world need to hear fore there are people silenced everyday I am speaking for. The cover work is also a masterpiece. Her intimate concerts from London, to New york has touched everyone who had the pleasure to attend. She performs with her absolute best and makes you feel warm, wanted, accepted. Too see her perform was a joy - no matter the venue she gives EVERYTHING. (Look up her billboard award performance this year = epic)

There will be songs that will grow on you - some to great to comprehend its importance right then and there, but like fine wine in time you feel it touches the parts of you that where to slow to receive. All in perfect blend with songs you know are to great.

We all can write all day and night about how great this album is or how bad it is but until you buy it and hear it for yourself you are a follower (harsh but in this era of bloggers = fake journalists, no talent critics and all round ignorant people with as much prejudices as rain drops within a dark cloud) let the bridge of self expression this album brings - bring the real answer out. Just buy the album - I dare you to regret it.
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on 25 August 2011
"4" by Beyonce is a good recent musical effort put out by Beyonce. Many of her songs are very motivating from the standpoint of going after what you want. My favorite musical track on this cd is "Love on Top". "Love On Top" is a musical track about an enduring love relationship that prevails regardless of what happens in life. The biggest reason why I recommend "4" by Beyonce is because many of the songs have a unique musical feel reminiscent of "Sweet Dreams" (one of my other favorite Beyonce songs). She bravely experiments musically in this cd, and it works out well. Many who enjoy Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" musical track is going to like "4" because it pushes the musical boundary envelope in a similar way.
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on 30 July 2011
I read the pleas from Bey fans before this album came out, not so succumb to the current trend for electronic music- " No Euro Trash Please Beyonce, you are better than that" they cried ( me too) and she has not disappointed. I'm surprised to see that there are Bey fans not elated with this album as it does not sound like anything else out there. Sometimes I feel like this girl simply cannot win. When Bday came out (an excellent underrated album) everyone said there was not enough ballads, then came Sasha Fierce which was a blend of both, now we have a sort of retro album, mainly mid tempos and now it's boring, and we all want booty shakers from her! Give the girl a break already. The first song 1+1 I admittedly did not like until I heard it a few times, and it is one of the best love songs for years. Then comes the superb "I care", "I miss you" is so emotional and ends with you wanting more. We all know the "BTINH", by now, amazing vocals. "Party" is a throwback and one of my favourites, really laid back, cool, bouncy summer track, excellent to drive to (in my opinion). I really like the vocals in "Rather Die Young" and "Start Over", but "Love on Top" is a song that can always make you feel happy. "Countdown" is wow and so cleverly samples Boyz to Men, another massive hit in the waiting. "End of Time" is an African inspired, gorgeous track which deserves great sucess, and there is nothing out there that sounds like it. Personally I would have liked to have seen more Fela Kuti influence in this album but I am not complaining. "I was Here" is very emotional, some lyrics a little cheesy, but it's a powerful track with a powerful delivery. "Run the world", well I'm a little uncomfortable with the lyrical content, but the beat and her delivery is undeniable. I always purchase Deluxe versions and I am glad I did. "Lay Up Under Me" is another soothing rero discoey, feel good song, "Dance for you" is a slow rnb number, but I'm saving the best till last. Schoolin Life is my Jam!!! Absolutely funky, Prince like, I just cannot describe how much I love this song, and I hope she releases this. To sum it up, there are lots and lots of hits on this record. There is real music on here, timeless and feel good. This one and Adeles 21 are my favourite albums so far. Keep it up Bey but no more swearing please!
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on 16 July 2011
Let me start by saying that I am a massive Beyonce fan. I own all her albums and was an ardent follower of her during the Destiny's Child days. She is, in my opinion, a fantastic all-rounder (beauty, breathtaking talent and fantastic voice to match). So why the two stars for this album? Well, one of the things I've always liked about Beyonce is that she pioneers her own sound. She is fearless when it comes to taking risks and songs like Single Ladies and Crazy in Love showed how she puts her own unique stamp on her music even when working with some of the world's best producers. However '4' is not her best album by a long shot. After the rousing single 'Run the World' I expected more party anthems in the vein of Independent Woman. But no. Half this album is paint-by-numbers R'N'B ballads with the current Eurodance/pop production so popular with Ne-yo, Chris Brown etc (don't even get me started). For me, apart from the sublime 'Love on Top' and 'Lay up under me' this album struggles to find a direction. I've always loved concept albums (think I am Sasha Fierce . . . Amy Winehouse's Back to Black or Justin Timberlake's Justified) but here we get a record that is impossible to listen to all the way through without skipping tracks. The mood is schizophrenic. There is no continuity here and as one other reviewer mentioned, out of all the amazing songs in the world at her disposal, why did she select THIS final twelve?? A lot of the tracks are not catchy enough to even be filler tracks. Songs that start off well are ruined by bizarre melodies which do nothing to showcase how good Beyonce's voice really is. Even the ballads are bland. Where are the 'Listens' or the 'Dangerously in Love's'? I am just hoping that as she releases the videos for these songs I might start to 'get' this album. In the past, a lot of her songs have been 'growers.' Some of my friends hated Single Ladies at first but after seeing the energy of her video and the amazing dancing, they were sold. So Bey, if you've got something to show me, please please do it soon. If not, then this album would indicate you are going in the wrong direction.
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on 16 August 2011
I'm another fan trying to make everybody buy this album or see the good part in it because I absolutely adore her...But I don't think it's going to be like that this time. Even though I love Beyoncé to death, bought both versions of ''4'', I have to be honest and realize that this album is a flop. After continuously growing with each album and also after never succeeding in disappointing me, she finally did it. I was expecting so much more with this album. ''I Am...Sasha Fierce'' was her best work, taking it to another level with this album. You've thought that after such a great album like that one, she would have raised the bar even higher but no. I love all the songs from ''4''...''End Of Time'' and ''1+1'' are my favorite, but I honestly wanted more from this album...After hearing about the making of this album, I wondered how will it sound and be and for a minute I thought: ''What if ''I Am...Sasha Fierce'' was the climax of Beyoncé music?'' Now, I know the answer:''It was...''.I'm going to spare you from a long lecture about this album and I'm going to finish by stating this: If you're a true fan, buy this album, the songs are good. We should show our Queen support! If you're not, don't bother...Like I read in some other reviews, buy the songs that you like individually. Overall, I gave this album 5 stars but only because I love, love, love Beyoncé. There is always room for more, isn't it?
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on 5 January 2012
As I got into beyonce when I saw her perform on x factor in 2008 I think it was, it was her vocal performance that really made me want to hear more of her. And so her ballads were the first things I tried to find. Since I was never too big a fan of the R'n'b with the hip hop and rapper kind of sound (I always found it an annoying interruption to the beautiful singer) her first two releases were rather patchy for my taste. I loved I am.. Sasha Fierce, since it was more of a pop, kind of diva sound and style. However this album edges it for me, since it is, in the main, more stripped down and allowing her voice to shine through. If it was not for the rather unsubtle 'who run the world (girls)' at the end, i would have given it 5 stars, but take that track out, and the album is moving and cohesive. I just hope the relative under performance of this album commercially, doesn't put her off this direction.
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on 10 July 2011
Eager to snap my fingers, pop my kneck and shake my booty with attitude ...I excitedly downloaded this album. I flicked through the tracks hunting for my hit of "shut yo mouth!" moments however, before I had even managed to work my way to Run the world (girls) I realised that my inner diva had already lost patience, thrown a strop and left. What is with these mushy ballads? This album sounds a bit whitney or Leona Lewis where is SACHA FIERCE? Where is FOXY CLEOPATRA?
I have kept this album on my mp3 player in the hope that it will grow on me but to date I have only listened again to the opening track and Run the World.
If you are a Beyonce fan like I am you will probably buy this album anyway but it may be wise to pick a few tracks you are likely to listen to again and download just those ... it will save you a bit money.
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on 12 July 2011
Beyonce is a Superstar and will always be one, this album is beautifully crafted in such a way, this album "4" has made me appreciate, admire and like her even more.
I Am...Sasha Fierce was a solid Debut! and did not think anything would make another album as good as this but Beyonce never fails to impress us! she is Amazing, the album itself is a work of art!
After having a break, she decided to travel the world and get inspired and damn has she been inspired!
This album has different tastes of music, new beats, new rhythms, new styles.

is Beyonce the same Beyonce? Definitely not..

and Fans! Buy this album, its worth having in your Music collection, Ignore negative remarks from previous review writers, they simply do not have good taste in music.

Who Runs The World? Beyonce Does.
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