Fierce? Nah, She's Just Too Good

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2009 5:51 PM CST
President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama wave to singer Beyonce after their first dance together.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Beyoncé’s new album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, “is something of a mess," Sasha Frere-Jones writes in the New Yorker. Musically, Beyoncé belongs in the "Genius Lounge," but her fierce alter-ego only emerges on the record to offer tame advice. "The wild R. & B. vampire Sasha is advocating marriage?" writes Frere-Jones of the song Single Ladies. "What’s next, a sultry, R-rated defense of low-sodium soy sauce?”

Only as Etta James in the film Cadillac Records does Beyoncé let out the fierce. “Her version of James is a worthy tribute,” Frere-Jones writes. “Why Knowles could not make her own record as spontaneous and magnetic” has to do with “how much actual fierceness” her fans can take. They aren't "much bothered by her need to futz about with unconvincing role-playing. She’s really good at being good.”