Beyonce Releases Two Tracks From I Am ... , Inspired By Jay-Z And Etta James

B says playing the jazz singer in 'Cadillac Records' pushed her 'to do a lot of things musically that no one else is doing.'

Two new singles by Beyoncé premiered on the radio Wednesday (October 8) in advance of the November 18 release of her upcoming album, I Am ... . One is the dance track "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and the other is a more introspective ballad called "If I Were a Boy" — two songs that represent two different sides of the singer, as she suggested in a letter to fans last week.

The singer recently opened up to Essence magazine about some of the influences on the album, which include hubby Jay-Z and playing Etta James in the movie "Cadillac Records."

B recorded 60 to 70 songs for the album (only 10 made the cut), but 40 of them turned out to be about love, she said. "There's a balance," she told the magazine. Meaning the love is reciprocated? "Yeah," she giggled. "Definitely."

While "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" acts sonically as a sequel to "Get Me Bodied," "If I Were a Boy" is unlike anything Beyoncé has done before. "It's broad," she told Essence. "But I had to try it, because I remember Aretha Franklin said a great singer can sing anything and make it her own."

B also decided to follow the example of Etta James and broaden her horizons. "Etta expressed herself; she was bold," Beyoncé said. "That inspired me to do a lot of things musically that no one else is doing."

Etta also inspired her to do a lot of things in her acting career that she's never done before. To prep for "Cadillac Records," B took a trip to a Brooklyn rehab to visit drug addicts. The work paid off, she said. "This is the first time I felt that naked and vulnerable acting," she told Essence. "After I finished the scene, me, my mom, my acting coach, [my cousin and executive assistant] Angie, we were all just jumping up and down, like, 'Oh my God, that was it!' "

And she stretches beyond playing singers (as she's also done in "Fighting Temptations" and "Dreamgirls") for her first thriller, "Obsessed," in which she brawls with "Heroes" star Ali Larter.

"At first it was choreographed as more of a catfight," B said, "but we were like, 'This is not how a woman would fight if she's protecting her family.' Now it's very intense."