Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé” (Original Album) ****
Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition) (More)” **1/2 (Bonus material only)
Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition)” ***1/2
In case you aren’t aware, last year Beyoncé dropped a surprise album on iTunes. That self-titled record was an adventurous, ethereal work that was her most artistically forward-thinking move in quite some time. That being said, it did sound like it was informed by listening to The Weeknd and Drake for a prolonged period on repeat, but Beyoncé put her own spin on that chilled-out, club-ready sound, scoring high points on cuts like “Pretty Hurts,” “Drunk in Love” and “XO.”
What also made the album really stand out was that she released a video for each song on the record, making it a true audio-video project, thus adding to its overall artistic scope. A couple months after the album dropped on iTunes, it appeared in hard-copy with a DVD containing the video portion. Now, Beyoncé has added six more tracks to the mix and a few live cuts from her “Mrs. Carter World Tour” HBO specials for a video portion.
This week, this all comes together as “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition)” which is available in hard copy as two discs and two DVDs. If you only want the new portion, you can get it digitally as “Beyoncé (More).” Considering how reissue-crazy the labels seem lately, it is considerate that she and her team decided to divide it out. This is, no doubt, a good move to achieve the maximum audience.
The bad news is that the added material is mainly just for extreme fans. If you are a passing fan and got the album the first time around, this is not mandatory listening. The live cuts are nice to see, but the new studio cuts are mostly remixes. And one new cut, “7/11” is little more than a cheerleading section. It’s all sass and very little substance. Beyoncé, of course, has gone a long way, partially fueled by attitude and her showmanship, but this song does not provide all that great a listen. Adding to that the sense that both it and the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Flawless” remix sound be autotuned, it comes off as a bit of a letdown, although Minaj does add a spark to the latter tune. But if there is anyone who doesn’t need autotune, it’s Beyoncé.
The “Drunk in Love” remix that follows has the same charm as the original and features Kanye West along with Jay-Z, who appeared on the original. Again, this is a nice extra, but still perhaps a bit redundant when placed in the same collection as the original. The same goes for the Pharrell-assisted “Blow” remix, where he adds a few vocals. The two versions are even the exact same length, thus implying that the added “remix” varies only slightly from the original.
Mr. Vegas brings some dancehall energy and a little push to the remix of rare stand-alone cut, “Standing on the Sun” while new song “Ring Off” has a slightly dub-influenced bounce. It’s essentially the counterpoint to “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It.)” While that song is about settling down, this is an ode to “starting over again.”
With the original album, these tracks make for added, minor fascinations, but they don’t hit the main album’s artistic highs. What this ultimately means is that the “Beyoncé” album has been effectively expanded, but with few additional highlights.