Archive | February 2014

Beyonce Madness: Collaborations Bracket

ladybeyHere is the final bracket of polls for the first round of Beyoncé Madness, where we will finally compare those classic Bey collaborations with other artists.  You might notice a few patterns… Hov, for instance, makes more than a couple appearances.  Others are with similar R&B vocalists, others are with rappers, and still a few others with people who make very little sense at all.  This category includes some of her most successful singles of all time, so be prepared to make some difficult decisions.

1. Baby Boy ft. Sean Paul vs. Back to Black ft. Andre 3000

Bey’s second single with Sean Paul from Dangerously in Love spent 9 weeks at #1 in 2003, giving it the top seed in this collab bracket.  Baby Boy is Beyoncé’s most reggae-esque single ever, and goes up against a kind of weird, haunting cover of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, which was recorded for The Great Gatsby Soundtrack.

8. Until the End of Time (with Justin Timberlake) vs. 9. Upgrade U ft. Jay-Z

The very Prince-esque Until the End of Time is originally from JT’s 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds, but when it was released as a single, it got an upgrade with Bey’s vocals.  That same year, Beyoncé released Upgrade U which is about a continuing education program.  Ha, just jokes.  But watching the video does count for credit.  You can learn about Jay-Z by watching Bey impersonate him.

 5. Telephone (with Lady Gaga) vs. 12. Videophone ft. Lady Gaga

Basically only one Lady Gaga song is allowed to last on this blog, so choose wisely.  In the 5th spot we have Telephone, which appears on Gaga’s The Fame Monster, and was probably the most widely watched (and talked about) music video in 2010.  Gaga featuring Bey goes up against Bey featuring Gaga in Videophone, a song with rather similar themes, but a video with far fewer Quentin Tarantino references.

4. ’03 Bonnie & Clyde (with Jay-Z) vs. 13. Love in this Club Part II (with Usher)

’03 Bonnie & Clyde is officially our favourite power couple’s first collaboration, originally from Jay-Z’s Blueprint 2.  Really, it had me at the Tupac sample.  Love on the run goes up against Love in this Club’s remix, which is an Usher track that gets slowed down and improved with a Beyoncé feature.  Also Lil’ Wayne makes an appearance.  Is it a surprise to anyone else how much Lil’ Wayne has worked with Bey?

3. Check On It ft. Slim Thug vs. 14. Put It In A Love Song (with Alicia Keys)

I don’t really know who Slim Thug is, but Check on it is still a pretty fun track, initially recorded for the Pink Panther Soundtrack.  Hence all the pink in the video.  It’s up against Put It In a Love Song from Alicia Keys’ The Element of Freedom, which is one of the most ridiculous and fun songs from either of the two singers.  And really, this match-up could describe a natural progression, from checking on it to texting on your cell phone.

6. Beautiful Liar ft. Shakira vs. 11. Lift Off with Kanye West & Jay Z

Visually, I understand the pairing of these lovely, well-hipped women.  But vocally, Beautiful Liar certainly has two distinct voices and won’t be confused with a well-blended girl group.  Lift Off is a rap/sung collaboration that comes from Watch the Throne.  There really is no good excuse for why this has no official video, but unfortunately the link below is fan-made.

7. Deja Vu ft. Jay-Z vs. 10. Party ft. Andre 3000 and Kanye West

Deja Vu is a song I completely forgot that I love, but when I heard it, I had an eerily familiar feeling… and it goes up against the one collaboration Bey included on 4: Party, which is basically a late-August-party-at-dusk in the form of a song.  This is also the song that brought “swagoo” into our vocabulary.  The video also features a verse by J. Cole, but I don’t think it’ll make or break the song.

2. Crazy in Love ft. Jay-Z vs. I Got That (with Amil) 

Crazy in Love is possibly the only song that can mention a pager and not feel aged.  It represents Beyoncé’s very first solo #1 single in the States, and is one of Rolling Stone’s favourite 200 songs of all time.  It goes up against the less popular but still hopping track by Amil, I Got That, in which Bey was featured before she had done anything else apart from Destiny’s Child.  It’s definitely underrated, and addresses one of Beyoncé’s favourite themes: being a self-sufficient woman.

So there you have it!  Stay tuned for the second round of voting, and get ready for some even tougher choices as we narrow down the Queen’s best singles to the final four, and finally, the OnRecords champion of 2014 Beyoncé Madness!

Beyoncé Madness: Solo Career Bracket

So far you’ve voted on the new album, and on the Destiny’s Child era.  Now it’s time to vote on the solo tracks that Beyoncé has been releasing since 2003 without a girl group or collaboration.  This is one category that has been far better than I was personally expecting, so I hope that you have time to make yourself comfortable as you carefully consider each of the choices before you.

1. Irreplaceable vs. 16. ROC (vote in winner)

The infamous single that gave so many of us a default direction whenever we are unsure of our next move: To. The. Left.  Irreplaceable is up against the song that is quickly becoming one of my favourite love songs, especially with the first line: “The title of my book would be life with superman”.  You already voted ROC into the competition, but can it really beat Beyoncé’s most billboard-successful solo track of all time?

8. Love On Top vs. 9. Countdown

Two incredible songs, both from 2011’s 4, which I make clear that I’m pretty wild about on an earlier blog, here.  I’ve posted the Love On Top video below (because it’s awesome), but I’m sure I will always connect this song with  Beyoncé announcing her pregnancy at the end of her VMA’s performance.  Legendary.  But so is the video for Countdown, which she actually shot while pregnant as well.  So either way, she’s a boss and she wins.

5. If I Were a Boy vs. Listen

It’s about time we had a proper Ballad-off.  If I Were a Boy was I Am… Sasha Fierce’s debut single alongside Single Ladies (one from each disc) in 2008.   Listen was the lead single from the musical Dreamgirls, and has been a huge diva-defining moment for Beyoncé.  Both are reflecting on their flawed relationships, both are fantastic demonstrations of emotion displayed through song, and both have portions of their videos shot in black & white.  Important connections.

4.  Halo vs. 13. Get Me Bodied

This is by far the strangest match-up of this side of the bracket, and for that I apologize.  But please do me this solid and watch both videos to the end, because they are so deserving.  Halo we all know, because it is regularly sung in television competitions, because it is a vocal masterpiece.  Get Me Bodied is one of the most choreographically fun videos ever, where B invites Michelle, Kelly, and her sis Solange (who helped write the song) to hang out and dance.

3. Me, Myself and I vs. 14. End of Time

I was super surprised to see that Me, Myself and I was seeded so high, but its success on the billboards beat out most other Beyoncé solo tracks.  This is pretty classic R&B, up against a Fela-Kuti-inspired dance track from 4, End of Time.  Inexplicably, there is still no official video for this track, but there is a pretty fantastic performance from Roseland, which is below.

6. Sweet Dreams vs. 11. Run the World (Girls)

Part of Sweet Dreams’ success came from its early leak under the title Beautiful Nightmare, immediately making its way into clubs.  That sliding bass and layered synth distinguishes this song from a lot of Beyoncé’s pre-Sasha Fierce music, and Run the World, although recorded and released later for 4, is very much in the same vein.  It also takes Beyoncé’s MO of female empowerment to a whole new level of assertion and control of wild animals.

7.  Best Thing I Never Had vs. 10. Diva

Best Thing I Never Had is an amazing combination of soft r&b with hard attitude.  Some of my favourite Beyoncé lyrics of all time are in this song, like the wonderfully repeated, “You showed your ass and I saw the real you”.  For bonus points, pay attention to the original “oh baby,” that we’ve grown to love in Drunk in Love.  Diva may be a female version of a hustla (it’s also been called the female version Lil’ Wayne’s A Milli), but I would say it tops its male equivalents in the categories of swag, fashion, and truth-telling.  Because let’s face it, she’s the number one diva in this game for a lot more than a minute.

2.  Single Ladies vs. 15. Start Over

This is rather unfair.  Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is arguably Bey’s most iconic song/video.  It continues to get constant play at weddings and on the radio, and frankly, I was shocked that it wasn’t her most successful single of all time.  Single Ladies goes up against Start Over which doesn’t even have a music video, but is one of her most authentic sounding songs from her album about a couple that has lost some of the spark, but wants to rekindle and, well, start over.

And there we have it.  I’ll try to get the Collaboration polls up soon, and post an updated bracket.  In the meantime, you can still vote on the Destiny’s Child bracket until Wednesday, Feb. 26th.  Peace out.

Beyonce Madness: Destiny’s Child Era

destiny's childWhat we’re gonna do right now is go back.  Back in time, when Beyoncé’s solo career was just an inevitable dream.  Destiny’s Child may have gone through a few changes in personnel, but Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland were what made this group consistent.  When Michelle Williams joined the group in 2000, they had finally found the Cindy Birdsong to their Diana and Mary.  Right?  I used to think all the Supremes comparisons were silly, but it’s actually a little ridiculous how similar these two girl groups were!  Anyway, I digress.  It’s time to get your vote on.

1. Independent Women Part 1 vs. Brown Eyes

Independent Women Part 1 is seeded at the top because it continues to be Beyoncé’s most successful single on the billboards ever, with 11 weeks at the top of the charts.  From the same album (and configuration of the group), it goes up against Brown Eyes, a lovely and underrated ballad that is 100% fronted by Beyoncé.  I’m not sure if it counts as a love song, when the whole time they are singing about how this guy with brown eyes is obviously in love with her.  Still, it has a great hook.

9. Soldier (featuring Lil Wayne and T.I.) vs 8. No No No Part 2 (featuring Wyclef Jean)

I had completely forgotten about Soldier before creating these brackets.  It’s the most hip-hop inspired song on the group’s last album together, Destiny Fulfilled.  And look at Lil’ Wayne!  He’s so lil!  Watch for an appearance from Beyoncé’s lil sis, Solange near the end.  Its competition, No No No Part 2, is DC’s very first single in 1997, recorded by the original line-up of Destiny’s Child.

5. Survivor vs. 12. Cater 2 U

Survivor the album was named after the group had been completely revamped (and not without legal drama) to replace Lativia and Latoya with Michelle Williams (and short-lived Farrah Franklin).  After a radio DJ publicly compared the group to the reality television show Survivor, they embraced rather than fought the image.  Four years later, Cater 2 U seems like a step backwards in to time and patriarchy, where the three independent women don’t seem to rule out finding a terribly dependent man.  I actually love everything about the song, except for the lyrics.

13. Bug A Boo vs. 4. Lose My Breath

Bug A Boo from 1999’s The Writing’s on the Wall received most of its success via music video as opposed to radio play, probably because Kobe Bryant has a cameo.  It goes up against a Jay-Z tweaked Lose My Breath from Destiny Fulfilled, which continues to be one of DC’s most successful singles ever, heavily sampling from real live university marching band.

3. Say My Name vs. 14. Girl

The song that really showcased B’s particular gift in the realm of suspicious/jealous girlfriend songs, goes against a song that is basically vowing to ovaries before broveries.  And as much as I love singing along with the harmonies in Say My Name, I would describe it as a bit overrated, while I’d describe Girl as the most underrated single of Destiny’s Child.  That would perhaps put them on relatively equal ground?  Well, that’s up to you.

11. Emotion vs. 6. Bills Bills Bills

On Survivor, DC proved that they can pull off a serious cover with the Bee Gee’s classic, Emotion.  Slightly earlier, in 1999, they were setting the trend of complaining about freeloading boyfriends with Bills Bills Bills – the same year that TLC released No Scrubs.  But TLC didn’t have the double-split-screen thing going for them.

7. Nasty Girl vs. 10. Bootylicious

This seems like an appropriate match-up since the songs are back-to-back on the album, Survivor.  In Nasty Girl, the women of DC direct their attitude towards another woman whom they consider “nasty” because she is wearing a slightly more skimpy outfit than they themselves wear.  I’m not a big fan of the slut-shaming, but I do really like Beyoncé’s hair in this video.  Bootylicious combines two of my favourite things: making up new words and Stevie Nicks.  Also, the video is one big MJ tribute, so that’s pretty cool.

15. So Good vs. 2. Jumpin’ Jumpin’

Two early DC tracks, both from The Writing’s on the WallJumpin’ Jumpin is great for getting ready to go out, while So Good is a feel-good track about winning a breakup.  So Good unfortunately does not have an official video, but the video below shows DC performing at Jam in the Park.

That’s it for this region, but if you haven’t voted on the songs from Beyoncé’s most recent album, the polls are still open for another couple of days.  I’ll have the solo career bracket up for your voting pleasure sometime this weekend, so check back soon!

Beyonce Madness: Self-Titled Bracket

beyonceAre you ready for the first full round of voting?  For those of you who are still unfamiliar with Beyoncé’s latest (2 month old) album, I am very excited to offer you an opportunity and excuse to check it out… and make painful decisions about which songs you like better than others.  Because that is exactly where we are going to begin.  

*NOTE: I had trouble embedding these videos from youtube, so a lot of the videos are linked from the photos.  Also, if you are still in need of the full brackets, click here.

Grown Woman vs. Part II (On the Run)  
Although not officially part of the self-titled album, Grown Woman has been floating around online for a little longer than the rest, mostly because of this Pepsi commercial.  Before Drunk in Love was covered and remixed by everyone and anyone, this was probably the most recognized song from Beyoncé, which is why it’s seeded as #1.  
grownwoman  
If you’ve been following since the weekend, you are already familiar with Part II (On the Run), the song that won the vote-in spot in The First Four.  It’s unfortunate that this is going to be the only song in the bracket without an official music video to accompany it, but please don’t let that fact influence whether this is a contender.  Sonically alone, this has a lot of potential to compete against anything on the list.
ontherun
8. Heaven vs. 9. Pretty Hurts
The two big ballads from the album go head to head.  Pretty Hurts opens the “visual album” with an exploration of what we sacrifice for beauty and esteem.  The video is one of my favourites from the album, although depending on the day, I could say that about nearly every one of them.  I guess that’s why you have to decide.

prettyhurts

Meanwhile, Heaven is sad.  And absolutely beautiful.  Like an elegy to her miscarried baby (I assume), she whispers and cries out, “heaven couldn’t wait for you”.  In this context, I can only assume the video is illustrating the life she imagines for her baby.  It’s tragic and touching, and one of the best ballads she’s ever done.

heaven

5. XO vs. 12. Superpower
The most radio-friendly track on the album is a force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes with a video that pictures the Queen of everything as a regular person with whom you might enjoy a visit to the fair.

But XO is up against another inevitable force: a Frank Ocean penned love song.  There are two mistakes in the video for Superpower, however: the fact that Frank Ocean doesn’t make an appearance (while nearly everyone else in the music industry does), and Beyoncé’s weird outfit.  Even so, this is a truly great duet between two beautiful, soulful people.
superpower
13. Haunted vs. 4.***Flawless
Both of these tracks are excellent examples of the new Beyoncé.  Both are dripping in Jay-Z influence in flow and phrasing.  Haunted is actually split into two videos:  Ghost comes from the first half of the song which is mostly rap/talking, while the second half retains the track name and is a bit more melodic.  Anyway, I think you should take them together, so here are both videos.

haunted

And then there is the ever-quotable ***Flawless, both song title AND appropriate adjective for the song.  It has everything you could want in an empowering anthem, including a reference to some band no one’s ever heard of (Skeleton Crew) and more importantly, a boss Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche TED Talk on feminism.

flawless

3. Partition vs 14. Jealous                                                                           This is a particularly difficult pairing because these songs are so connected visually on the album, although like Haunted, Partition is split into two videos, with the audio from the Yoncé video opening the track.  Partition is possibly the most raw and sexy track on the album (and that is saying something), while Jealous is one of the most vulnerable and honest (regardless of whether you think Beyoncé actually still cooks, naked or otherwise).

partition

vs.

jealous

11. No Angel vs. 6. Rocket                                                                             Both of these songs are ridiculously sexy.  No Angel is one of the most thought provoking videos for me.  I think it’s the anti-thesis to J Lo’s Jenny from the Block.  Beyoncé is being honest about the fact that celebrity has changed her, and she doesn’t fit in where she came from.

noangel

Meanwhile, Rocket takes a far less subtle approach, especially when paired with the video.  I can’t help but hear this as a Marvin Gaye throwback, simulating a sexual experience but keeping to a classic R&B sound and structure.  Hot.

rocket

7. Blow vs 10. Blue
This is easily the most awkward match-up in this bracket.  A super sexy ode to pleasure whose video is full of neon-wearing dancers in a roller rink… battling a down-to-earth ode to Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy (with a video shot in Brazil… so as low-key as that can be).

blow

vs.

blueivy

2. Drunk in Love vs. 15. Mine
And finally, the two big rap collaboration tracks on the album – the first with Beyonce’s real-life boo, Jay Z, and the second with Canadian baby face of rap music, Drake.  Without leaning too heavily on which rapper you prefer, vote for the song you actually like better.  Either way, Bey kills it on both tracks.

vs.

mine

That’s it for now!  Stay tuned to vote on more brackets… next up, your favourite Destiny’s Child tracks!

Beyoncé Madness: The First Four

For those of you unfamiliar with March Madness as it pertains to College Basketball, every year the greatest tournament ever begins with 2 special “play in” games, where 4 underdog teams battle for the last spots in the tournament.

Similarly here, the first four will comprise of 4 songs that you can vote-in to compete against the other 62  already seeded tracks.  There are two places on the Beyoncé bracket that you may have noticed are named “vote in”.  Those are the spots these songs will fight for.

The first poll will be for the 16th spot alongside songs from Beyoncé’s latest album.  You get to vote between two songs from  Jay-Z’s album, Magna Carta… Holy Grail that feature Queen Bey – making them her most recent songs apart from the self-titled album.  Have fun voting!

BBC – Jay Z featuring Beyoncé, 2013.  From Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

Granted, Beyoncé is not a major part of this song.  She opens the track reminding us all that her boo is a billionaire, and then lets Hov, along with some help with his friends Justin Timberlake and Nas, take it from there.  Her background vocals are credited to Third Ward Trill – a shout-out to her hometown, which becomes a bit of a theme on the new album, so it’s kind of connected.

Part II (On the Run) – Jay Z featuring Beyoncé, 2013.  From Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

Like BBC, there is no official music video for this track, but who wouldn’t want to watch a slide show of this adorable power couple?  On the Run works like a sequel to JayBey’s first song together, ’03 Bonnie & Clyde, which is seeded 4th place among the 16 collaborations.

Next up, the vote-in for the 16th spot among the best of Beyoncé’s solo career will give one of Bey’s more obscure and underrated tracks a chance to go head to head against her top-selling singles.

Lost Yo Mind, 2006.  Bonus track from B’Day

I for one, have no idea how this song avoided being properly released.  It is really good – one of my personal favourites from B’Day.  

ROC, 2008.  Unreleased.

Talk about obscure, this track was never actually on an album.  It was written and recorded for I Am… Sasha Fierce, but didn’t make the cut, maybe because she uncharacteristically uses the “N” word.

And now that you know all the options, don’t forget to print off your own Beyonce Brackets to predict and play along with!  Click the image below to access a printable/downloadable copy of the bracket, and good luck!

Beyoncé Madness