Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pop Trash Woman Of The Year

Scarily - this is only part of my 'Sasha Fierce' collection!

With end of year 'best and worst of' countdowns sweeping the net (make sure you check out Adem With An E, Chart Rigger and Melismatic for starters), I thought it was about time I joined in. I'm still compiling my lists but there's one award that's a complete no brainer. Under normal circumstances I'd give this prize to Dannii for just getting out of bed and doing her hair. However, a strange thing happened in 2009. I finally saw the light and discovered the holy power of Beyjesus. After years of being frustrated by great singles and patchy records, everything just clicked. "I Am... Sasha Fierce" will not only go down as one of the best pop albums of the decade but also as one of the most influential. The only diva that came close to leaving a similar mark on 2009 was Lady GaGa. They both sold millions, scored endless hits and changed popular culture forever with their video clips and iconic images but Beyoncé also had a number one hit at the box office (with the god awful Obsessed), cleaned up at every award ceremony and revolutionised the way albums are promoted with her dual singles and 'Sasha Fierce' alter ego. The pop pioneer also somehow found the time to release a remix album and a live album as well as two brilliant duets (with Lady GaGa and Alicia Keys). Like it or not - 2009 was the year of Queen B.

Aus #3, NZ #2, UK #1, US #3

Aus #5, NZ #2, UK #7, US #1

I've never cared about chart success or critical acclaim (it's not like Dannii or La Toya have ever experienced much of either) but I respect what Beyoncé has achieved in the past year. It's hard to knock ten Grammy nominations and few acts in the history of music can boast 8 hit singles from the one album. That's not even mentioning her latest accolade. Beyjesus was recently named Billboard's top female artist of the decade and 4th overall. If you take into consideration that Destiny's Child came in 9th - she has a legitimate claim to being the most successful artist of the noughties. But whatever. Any old ho can sell records - just look at numbers 8, 14 and 17 on that list. I'm way more impressed by Beyoncé's impact on popular culture and the music industry - particularly with regard to the way albums are marketed and promoted. Pre-"Sasha Fierce" it was rare to go with different singles in different territories let alone release dual lead singles. Now it's almost standard practice.

Aus #40, NZ #26, UK #72, US #19

Aus #3, NZ #2, UK #4, US #5

You only need to look at Beyoncé's army of imitators. Take Rihanna. Not only does her new Grace Jones on steroids image reek of Sasha Fierce, she's also going with dual lead singles - one ballad and one uptempo. Sound familiar? At least she brought something new to the concept with her horror movie styling unlike Ciara (her ultra lame 'Super CiCi' persona was as big a flop as "Fantasy Ride") and J Lo (admittedly 'Lola' was stillborn out the oven and quickly scrapped). That's not even mentioning my favourite Beyoncé clone. Australia's own Jessica Mauboy is getting in on the act. Sony Australia have also been taking notes by re-releasing Jessica's album every second week and squeezing out single after single. I know it annoys some fans but I like having shit to collect and it's a legitimate way of making a return with album sales plummeting. However, the real legacy of "Sasha Fierce" isn't the way it was marketed but rather the song "Single Ladies". The video clip is already iconic, the dance routine has captured the imagination of everyone from Barack Obama to this fierce queen and the song has now been immortalised in Alvin & The Chipmunks 2. This is either the best or most disturbing thing I've seen all year.

Japan #3, NZ #11, US #39

Aus #2, NZ #1, UK #5, US #10

None of this would mean very much if the quality of the music didn't match the top notch styling and innovative marketing. A little over a year ago I reviewed "I Am... Sasha Fierce" and rather embarrassingly declared that the concept didn't work. I loved the songs but had issues with Beyoncé's split personality. I wanted a mix of both discs - pretty ballads with a sprinkling of fierce urban pop thrown in to spice things up. Unfortunately, the problem with writing reviews is the fact that you only get to listen to the album a couple of times before waxing lyrical about its genius or shortcomings. More often than not I can make up my mind after ten minutes but sometimes they take a while to get under your skin and it wasn't until early 2009 that I realised how very wrong I was. "Sasha Fierce" has been the soundtrack to my year. I just change the tracklist according to my mood. When I landed in hospital I played "Halo" on repeat for weeks (I really don't know why), when I was loved up I preferred "Smash Into You" and "That's Why You're Beautiful", when I broke up I moved on to "Disappear" and when I occasionally unleash my inner man whore I give "Ego" a spin. There's literally a song for every occasion!

Aus #14, Ger #14, UK #27

Aus #31, NZ #32, US #65

The amazing thing about "I Am... Sasha Fierce" is that it has continued to sell despite the worst single choices since Kylie's "X" debacle. Things started well with "If I Were A Boy", "Single Ladies" and "Halo" but it's all been down hill since there with the exception of "Sweet Dreams". "Ego", "Diva", "Broken Hearted Girl" and "Videophone" were all terrible choices that were only saved by remarkably good remixes. I could understand if there wasn't much to choose from but "Sasha Fierce" is an embarrassment of riches. "Radio" (a top 20 hit in Holland oddly enough!) is the most commercial pop song on the album and has hit written all over it. "Hello" (or "Hellllooooowww" as I like to call it) should have been a single. Even the hardcore fans don't seem to like this one but I think it's more addictive than heroin. As far as ballads are concerned "Smash Into You" is one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard, while "Disappear" and "That's Why You're Beautiful" are further proof of Beyoncé's stunning versatility. Hell, even the bonus tracks were better than some of the singles. It's frustrating but I'm also kind of glad that my faves haven't been played to death on the radio. Now they're just there for me and the 6 million or so other people who bought the album. I was going to finish this post with a video clip but I've decided to go with the cinematic highlight of 2009 instead. Beyoncé's trashtastic fight scene in "Obsessed" is a future cult classic - and a potent reminder not to fuck with B (or to let her act in any more movies)!


Anonymous said...

Hmm...this should have gone to Kim Zolciak for the classic that is 'Tardy For The Party' and all her amazing moments on Housewives of Atlanta for sure!

chris x

Jeroen said...

Here in Holland the Pop Trash Woman of the Year is without a doubt Patricia Paay: has-been disco diva and the oldest woman ever to grace the pages of Playboy (current Dutch issue).

Mel said...

Hey! Thanks for the shoutout!

While I'm more in the Gaga camp in terms of Lady of the Year, Beyonce definitely deserves her props, and you pointed out a lot of good reasons why. Her record was one of the albums I most wanted to resist, actually. I enjoyed the two single ploy, but that idea only works if you have sufficient material to do it with before the whole album's good songs are used in a month (Rihanna). Beyonce didn't have that problem, but I tended to prefer the uptempos to the dirges. Ex: "If I Were A Boy" made me want to shoot myself in the face, but "Single Ladies" made me dance despite myself.

While she does many things to annoy me in terms of her hijacking of songwriting credit, girlfriend did her thing this year, and I think just about everybody except Gaga wishes they were as fierce as B. I say except because Gaga obviously already knows she's fierce. ;)

tommie said...

Meh. She's a horrid human being who is now trying to steal Sol-Angel's swagga:

What an uninspired bitch!

bomitoni said...

My dearest Mike. I have to say this is the first time I 100% DISAGREE with you. There is nothing trashy about Beyondshit. She's just TRASH! I loathe her. Though she is tolerable in remix form. I agree w/ Anonymous, Kim Zolciak was ROBBED!!! I demand a recount! LOL!

Magical Froggy said...

The first time I have ever been disgusted by this blog. La Toya is five thousand times more the Queen of Trash than this jumped up banshee.


Brian Chang said...

Why is this hypocrite bitch is still named top performer of the decade.. GAGA should have the recognition..


Though i admit i'm a fan of Single Ladies, Ego and Diva.. that's just it for me..

She's trying to do Alternative-Pop, i don't even fathom the fact she would (WILL) steal Solange Sol-Angel sound is atrocious and LOW..

Nasty G said...

All I can say is UGH on this one. UGH. I long for her inevitable fall (and she can take Alicia Keys with her on the way down). For this blog, indeed Kimmy Z should have taken it hands down!

AOTG said...

I'd be disagreeing furiously if it wasn't for the stunning Sweet Dreams. I presume you didn't pick CaCa due to the tranny rumours?

Though you know the real winner is The Goddess.

Adem With An E said...

I don't want an indie album from her next; I want a fucking disco album!!!!

Moogaboo said...

Classy choice, luv. She's inescapable, but I love Sweet Dreams, so yeah, I'll co-sign. However, I'm a little sad that Dannii didn't get the award for the sheer labor of love that was "The 1995 Sessions." It took Nathan over 45 minutes to compile, you know!

D'luv said...

Well, that was nice. Wish this accolade went to someone more deserving, though, like Heidi Montag.

Anyway, why am I never around when you unleash your inner man whore?

Johnny D said...

I've still managed to resist Beyonce-Sasha-Arse-Knowles-Rectal Exam-Platinum Edition with bonus dildo, , and thank god one Kelly Rowland dance anthem seems to make up for 5 Beyonce "anthems" and will fight on. They keep throwing this shit and Fame Monster at me and I dodge with all my strength.

Props to her though. As much as I love/hate/adore/worship Janet, I think the last person to pull this many cd singles out of her sphincter in one year would be Janet Jackson back in Rhythm Nation?

Fernando said...

Merry Christmas everyone! xxxxx

John said...

I think GaGa gets the edge on this title, simply because of her domination and ubiquity, but I do prefer Be. Great overview, though.

Mr. Will-W. said...

ABSOLUTELY. Underrated and well-deserving. Happy holidays, M! xo

Scott said...

I liked it better when you knew Beyonce was "meh". I just find her a phony and I hate the way she pretends to write her songs by demanding a credit in order to give writers the supreme priveledge of recording them. Her voice is weak and emotionless - pretty much every singer you mentioned aside from Rihanna is better - and her alter-ego is lame to the point of embarrassing. Single Ladies was a phenom, I'll give you that.

Anonymous said...

OMG that clip from obsessed was HILARIOUS

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, if i wanted to see or hear about Beyonce, i'd turn on an award show to watch her whore herself... i like these blogs usually to get something different. Not read about this over-exposed crap you can read about EVERYWHERE ELSE

Justin said...

Single Ladies, Radio, Halo, Diva, and Sweet Dreams are my jams.