4 is my favorite number. I remember telling everyone I could, “It’s August 4th and I’m four!” on my fourth birthday. Luckily for me, I share my birthday with President Barack Obama, who I think is cooler than sliced bread, so I’m in very good company. And there are four letters in my favorite word: Love. So it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite albums of the year would be entitled 4. The elements that make up Beyonce’s strongest album to date, proves that good things do come in 4’s.
I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to not love Beyonce just a little this year. Maybe it was her “Run The World” show-stopping performance on Oprah’s finale show, her new fragrance, or at least one video of her never-ending collection. Or maybe it was proud Papa Jay’s huge smile when she whipped open her jacket and revealed her baby bump for the first time. Previously, I couldn’t really connect with Bey. Destiny’s Child and her earlier solo albums seemed so polished and rehearsed, and I couldn’t find the connection that I have with all of my favorite artists. This year, I could connect to a Beyonce who stepped out on her own, ending her managerial relationship with her father. I could connect to a Beyonce who rocked out with Coldplay and jammed to Diplo. I could connect to a Beyonce in love.
Every song on 4 is filled with so much emotion, backed with the strength and confidence that only comes from life experience. “1+1” finds her expressing that vulnerable kind of love, the kind of passion that just takes over good sense: “I don’t know much about fighting but I know I will fight for you. Just when I ball up my fists, I’m laying right next to you.” She loves her some Jay-Z. That fact has never been more apparent. There’s strength on “I Care,” rooted more deeply than just telling someone to “put a ring on it.” She even moved herself to tears while performing the Frank Ocean-penned “I Miss You” at her Roseland shows in NYC. Everyone’s been here before: “No matter who you are, it is so simple a feeling, but it’s everything.”
The lyrics of the summer kiss-off anthem “Best Thing I Never Had” is so much more than fodder for Facebook statuses. She thanks you for leaving her behind, because you simply freed her for the right one. She knows you want her back, but it’s just too bad.
“Rather Die Young” finds her sexy in a way that’s less Sasha Fierce and a lot more Bey. Just like any young woman, she’s coming into the kind of sexiness that pours out when she’s simply in love. The “good girl falls for edgy boy” lyrics are relatable, because, let’s face it, we’ve all been there before, too. “Love On Top,” the New Edition-esque stunner finds her singing with love for the person she can’t wait to meet the most. She playfully refers to her husband on the bombastic “Countdown,” in a way she never had in the past.
The Diplo-produced “End Of Time” is hands down my favorite track of the year. For those who read my blog often, there isn’t much more I can say about this song that I haven’t said already. It’s the most rhythmic song on 4, and it’s known that I adore anything resembling dancehall. But when I hear it, I close my eyes, and immediately think of jumping into that one person’s arms, and feeling the world melt around me. She follows up with the Trent Reznor-sampled “I Was Here,” bringing my love of rock and r&b together with words that I hope to live up to in my own life:
I just want them to know, that I gave my all, did my best, brought someone happiness. Left this world a little better just because… I was here.
Over the course of just one year, Beyonce can consider her mission accomplished.