By Sarah Hoyles
Artist: Beyoncé (aka Beyoncé Giselle Knowles)
Album: 4 (her fourth studio album)
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Label: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia
Hometown: Born and raised in Houston, TX, USA
Sounds like: The self-assured pipes of Aretha Franklin, with synthesized music circa the late 80s and 90s with the lyrical content of her mainstream pop contemporaries: Keisha, Katy Perry and Britney Spears. Album complete with what a pop album should have: a lovesick ballad or two, some rap breakdowns, a handful of dance-worthy tracks and a few supposed girl power, self-empowerment anthems.
Oddities: In early 2011, WikiLeaks website revealed that musicians including Knowles got paid upwards of $1 million to perform for family members of Libyan politician Muammar Gaddafi. A spokesperson for Knowles told The Huffington Post that she had donated the money to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, established to aid the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Listen before you buy: Beyonce online
What my ears hear: Not as strong as her 2008 release “I Am… Sasha Fierce” but nevertheless top 40-radio will be spinning the various singles from this album through the 2011 summer months. Perfect for 20-somethings getting ready for their Friday night out.