There are a lot of secret Destiny's Child fans out there. Even your most jaded hipster can't help but shake their white-belted rump a little bit when "Bootylicious" pops up on the radio. Beyoncé Knowles' 2003 solo debut Dangerously in Love continued the winning streak, selling millions and spawning an insidiously catchy single, "Crazy in Love," a true classic summer anthem. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Beyoncé's new album, the hygienically titled B-Day, just may bring down the empire of Houston's most successful musical export since ZZ Top. On her past offerings, even if a song fell flat, at least there was Beyoncé's soulful voice to carry you through to the next one. On B-Day she just seems lost. Her vocal style swerves wildly from track to track as if she can't decide whether she wants to be Aretha Franklin, Missy Elliot or Tupac. Part of the blame should go to her boyfriend, ultra-mega hip-hop icon Jay-Z, who is featured on several of B-Day's least memorable tracks. His smothering influence can be felt throughout, from the opening song, "Déjà vu," to the ridiculous "Upgrade U." In her desperate quest for a hit single, Beyoncé has let Jay-Z trample all over this album like a kid at a Who concert. Let's hope that Beyoncé gets her groove back for her next attempt. Houston, we have a problem.
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John Freeman

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