I Am… Sasha Fierce
Columbia · November 2008
No Beyoncé album is as paradoxical as her third studio album I Am… Sasha Fierce. Despite receiving mediocre reviews, it still went #1 on the US Billboard 200 and went triple platinum, selling 3.25 million units. With four out of nine singles from the album making it to the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100, I Am… Sasha Fierce heavily contributed to Beyoncé solidifying her spot as a musical legend. It’s hard for me to classify anything Beyoncé’s released as bad, partially because I’m biased but also because I truly believe she’s one of the greatest artists and performers of all time. But in her attempt to create a double album that displayed her different identities, Beyoncé forced two contrasting sounds to compete with one another, and it didn’t work in the way she intended it to.
There’s no denying that the singles from this album skyrocketed Beyoncé onto another level of stardom, with ‘Single Ladies’, ‘If I Were a Boy’, and ‘Halo’, being some of her most iconic songs of all time. For the next few years, those songs and more were played at every school dance and birthday party, in every mall, and of course on every radio station. ‘Single Ladies’ continued to appear on charts in several countries all the way into 2014, six years after its initial release. She was pumping out hit after hit, and listening to them now is still just as enjoyable as when I was a kid hanging around my house with friends, singing and dancing along in the most embarrassing and cringey way imaginable. The leading singles from I Am… Sasha Fierce are actually what caused me to become a Beyoncé fan in the first place, and despite Beyoncé being seven months into her marriage with Jay-Z, ‘Single Ladies’ took over the world in a way I’d never seen a song do in my short life.
Along with the rest of the world I fell at Beyoncé’s feet, praising the ground she walked on and worshipping her as the powerhouse that she is. Ten years later I’m just as devoted to her (if not more), but I can still look back on her work with a critical eye and admit that some ideas didn’t work as well as they were intended to. Unfortunately, one of those was the idea of making I Am… Sasha Fiercea double album. In most cases, double albums are used as a way to include more tracks than would typically be found on a regular album, but Beyoncé was looking to separate her album rather than just extend it. I Am… Sasha Fierce was designed to serve as two records, with one side representing the personal life and feelings of Beyoncé while the other was her bad-ass alter-ego named Sasha Fierce. The I Am side consists of slower, emotional ballads like ‘Halo’ and ‘If I Were a Boy’ that do a fantastic job of achieving a sense of intimacy between Beyoncé and her listeners. But by the time you get to ‘Save the Hero’ (if you can even make it that far), you’re either half asleep or bored out of your mind. Thankfully you’ll get a wake-up call when you get to Sasha Fierce and ‘Single Ladies’ begins, but once again you end up listening to a collection of songs that essentially say the same thing over and over. The saving grace of the Sasha Fierce side is that at least you can dance along to it, making it easier to ignore the lack of lyrical progression.
At the end of the day, Beyoncé had a vision for I Am…Sasha Fierce, and it didn’t end up being executed in the way she had hoped. However, despite this, the album is a testament to her incredible vocal abilities and had a strong impact on the ongoing success of her career.