If you've ever mistaken Beyonce for a one-dimensional, disaffected pop star with an almost robotic drive to become hyper-famous, you may be surprised by "4." It's a heartfelt collection that takes as much influence from mid-90s slow jams to classic Motown. The infectious "1+1" feels like a lost hit from "The Bodyguard"-soundtrack-era Whitney Houston. "Love on Top" recalls vintage doo-wop mixed with early Michael Jackson -- and it's going to be incredibly inescapable once it's a single. "I Was Here" is a reflective, anthemic ballad that you may as well get familiar with now. "Party," featuring contributions from Kanye West and Andre 3000, boasts a keyboard-driven beat that seems so straight out of 1994, all it's missing is a cameo from Montell Jordan or Teddy Riley. Moreover though, the entirety of "4" ("Run The World" notwithstanding) has more of a personal, soul-baring touch than the kind of cold commercialism you may have come to expect out of Ms. Knowles' standard radio hits. Not that she needs more success at this point, but Beyonce's about to have a good 2011.
"Run The World"