2018 marks 10 years since the release of Beyoncé’s third solo studio album, I Am… Sasha Fierce. In introducing us to her alter ego, Bey also offered us “Single Ladies” and half of her underrated collaboration with Lady Gaga, "Telephone". It was a great time to be in the Beyhive. But they say hindsight is 20/20. A decade and three more albums later, I think we can come to a consensus that in the grand scheme of Bey’s solo discography, I Am... Sasha Fierce is actually the least impressive. I am ready to argue about this.
As a proud general in the Beyhive, not only am I qualified to speak on this issue, I feel inclined to make it clear that this is in no way a condemnation of Beyoncé or Sasha Fierce. I hate to disappoint the haters, but not today; not ever. Furthermore, if you’re hoping to find to find some justification that your fave’s album is more a masterpiece than anything Beyoncé has done, you’re going to be let down. Regardless of what you read here, rest assured that the Queen’s worst efforts are still better than the best album from most other artists. Period.
With that out of the way, let’s jump right in…
Why I Am… Sasha Fierce works
If this album only had “Single Ladies” on it, it would go down in history as one of the greatest albums of all time, to use the words of Kanye West. The single — which celebrated its own decade of infamy just a few weeks ago — is the crown jewel of Sasha Fierce. If there was any doubt as to how far Beyoncé’s reign could reach, the universal love of “Single Ladies” put it to rest. And where the infectious upbeat bop made us dance, “Halo” became the official song of empathy worldwide and brought us all to tears. “If I Were A Boy” is on any breakup playlist worth listening to. It makes sense that these are three of Beyoncé’s most successful songs of all time.
With her preceding album B’Day, Baddie Bey started a tradition of going absolutely ham on her music videos and on this album, she worked with visual creatives to really set a mood for Sasha Fierce. The choreography for “Diva” is still my favourite. And I mentioned her collaboration with Gaga before, and their colourful visuals for “Video Phone” were fun and beautiful.
Also, the idea of an alter ego felt very revolutionary... but make it cool. She mentioned that the now-defunct Sasha Fierce was the part of herself that she tapped into to make onstage/on-camera Beyoncé happen. She told Parade magazine that she was nowhere near as sexy and sassy as the woman we saw onstage.
Most obviously, I Am… Sasha Fierce works because it’s still a Beyoncé album. It’s great. Just not as great as her other ones.
How I Am... Sasha Fierce ended up on the bottom.
When Beyoncé drops a new project, at the bare minimum I fully expect to be able to listen to it all the way through, with no skips. Even songs that I don’t necessarily love love become necessary sonic elements that I anticipate and appreciate. This is the case with every album except Sasha Fierce. There are so many songs that I don’t even know the name of, let alone can recite the lyrics to. Seriously, what is “Satellites?” That “Ave Maria” cover? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it from start to finish. In fact, the only non-single on Sasha Fierce that I love is “Radio.”
Up against Beyoncé's other LP’s, Sasha Fierce just doesn’t stand a chance. Lemonade is one of the greatest albums of this decade. I don’t care what the Grammys say. Her 2013 self-titled album, with its stunning visuals and remarkable lack of promotion, is arguably just as good. Many artists began to follow suit, "pulling a Beyoncé" by dropping projects without warning. I’m not even sure if Beyoncé herself can top those masterpieces.
It’s hard to even compare I Am... Sasha Fierce to her debut joint, Dangerously In Love because they represent two different genres. The former is a great pop album, but the latter is one of the greatest contemporary R&B albums of our generation. Not even the Grammys could deny that fact, as it was awarded five gramophones in 2004.
B’Day not only offers the non-stop play I’m looking for, I’m likely to be sweating from dancing so hard. And that’s leaves 4, the follow up to Sasha Fierce that many people hated upon its release. It was such a departure from Beyoncé's earlier pop heavy sound that it was misunderstood. But 4 isn’t underwhelming, it’s underrated: a fact of musical history that many have sought to uplift in recent years.
All that said, someone has to lose this battle; and unfortunately it’s our girl Sasha Fierce. But there is a lesson in this that came straight from Beyoncé’s mouth in part two of the docu-series accompanying her self-titled album: “You could actually work super hard and give everything you have and lose.” So celebrate 10 years of I Am… Sasha Fierce by giving it another spin, and remembering to put forth your best Beyoncé work ethic, no matter the outcome.