Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I have quite a diverse taste in music, but I was never a fan of ballads. I found most declarations of love too icky sweet or, if love lost, sadly pathetic.

I’m also not a big fan of R‘nB and hiphop. There are several songs from those genres that I really loved, but most are fast tracks, usually the more bitchin’ danceable ones.

But of all the genres in music, the one I steer clear of the most is gospel. It’s not that I am faithless; I just refuse to wear my faith on my headphones. For me faith is something very personal and indefensible—just like one’s taste in music. But unlike taste where there’s no dispute, faith has been the cause of many a long-standing clash. Wars have been started because of faith. Meanwhile, no one has ever smashed an airplane into a building to bring it down “In the name of Mariah! Aaaaaaaaa-iiiiiiieeeee-hiiiiiiiii-aaaaaaaah!” (with matching falsetto birit).

Which is why I was shocked at myself when, upon listening to Beyonce’s latest double-CD album I Am… Sasha Fierce, I immediately fell in love with two songs: “Halo” and “Ave Maria”. Not only are they slow love songs, they have religious references as well! Actually, they’re more of religious metaphors: “Halo” is about meeting a guy who’s like an angel to her; meanwhile, I’m not too sure whether “Ave Maria” refers to her mother or herself, but it’s less about the mother of Jesus and more about a woman blessed. But the song actually borrows Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, and while that’s not strictly gospel, it’s religious. Then again, when it comes to classical music I’m more tolerant of any holy overtures because, well, back then religion was a major muse of musicians.

Speaking of I Am… Sasha Fierce, I surprised myself by actually liking almost all the tracks on the first of the double-CD. You see, Beyonce and producers have stacked all the slow songs and ballads on the first disc, then all the faster or fiercer songs on the second disc. Why?

Methinks she and her producers have learned a thing or two from Janet Jackson. You know how all the albums of Janet, er, Miss Jackson (cuz I’m nasty!) would start strong with the fast tracks, then eventually downshift to the ballads towards the end? Eventually Ms. Wardrobe Malfunction also had a malfunctioning public image—on the one hand she’s “Nasty” and dying to “Throb”, but on the other hand she admonishes the guy to “Let’s Wait A While”.

Well, Ms. Knowles apparently refuses to be sonically schizophrenic. So she split the album in two. If you look at the album cover, the first part is “Beyonce I Am…” and the second part is “…Sasha Fierce”. The first part has all slow songs, and Beyonce’s persona is the well-loved artist. The second disc lets loose her inner diva, full of fierce attitude (although two songs towards the end, “Hello” and “Scared of Lonely” show the diva’s more vulnerable side).

That I like all but one song on the first disc, while on the second disc I like two, can tolerate two more, and skip the rest—perhaps it’s just proof that Beyonce’s better at slow grooves instead of treading on Missy Elliot’s territory. Either that, or I’m just getting old.


Pinoy Contests said...

I love Schubert's Ave Maria, especially the version of Maria Callas (now there's a TRUE diva). But I'll check out the Sasha Fierce tracks available in Limewire. Mwah!

Dexter's Faggotory said...

True, I watched her explain the 2-disc decision on Ellen some time ago. I also noticed her hidden tracks "I'm Alone Now & Roc/Rock?" were ballads too which are actually not bad.

~Carrie~ said...

OH MY GAW~! I also love halo, in fact I play it over and over on my player. You have any reviews on Britney's Circus? I like the single, it's got the danceable divaness that you describe (IMO). Anyway, I feel good and inspired listening to Halo. They should release it after "Single Ladies" and "If I were a Boy".