Lady Gaga is political, Britney Spears loves to party, and [artist id="1236911"]Beyoncé[/artist] — well, she knows all about matters of the heart. [article id="1665460"]Her latest album, 4,[/article] which drops June 28, is a girl-power-filled ode to the power of love: its highs, lows and all the sublime moments in between.
If you didn't listen to the full album when [article id="1665391"]it leaked on Tuesday[/article] and have only heard singles [article id="1662415"]"Run the World (Girls),"[/article] [article id="1664631"]"1+1"[/article] and [article id="1664883"]"Best Thing I Never Had,"[/article] you're only getting part of the picture. There are some really surprising moments on the album that her singles only touch on.
4 is all about throwback jams, in the vein of R&B power girls like Mary J. Blige and SWV, with a little Mariah Carey thrown in for good measure. With fewer dance-floor fillers and more swirling ballads, Beyoncé's voice is the true star of the album, as evidenced on "I Care," a power ballad that recalls slow jams like the ones Phil Collins used to spill his heart on. B's voice is huge and owns the song as the instrumentals swirl and crescendo around her.
[article id="1665286"]"Party," which features Andre 3000[/article], is a, well, party jam at its very core. For anyone who attended a house party in the mid-'90s, this would have been the song to get the bash started. As Beyoncé sings, "So in love/ I'll give it all away/ Just don't tell nobody tomorrow," you'll be transported to a time when pop princesses cared more about the heart than the synth.
She kicks it even more old-school on "Rather Die Young," harking back to '70s soul. The song is about how you can't fight what the heart wants, even if it isn't right. Likening her lover to James Dean, it's all about the sexiness of bad boys and the good girls who love them, but instead of going hard, she keeps the music soft.
Perhaps the most surprising song on the album is "Countdown." Full of video-game bleeps and B doing her best Sasha Fierce ([article id="1632774"]we thought she retired her![/article]), the singer gets sassy and futuristic on the track. While it's not like the other songs on the album, it does have a "Check on It" vibe.
Beyoncé gives fans a musical kick to the head during "End of Time," a bombastic track, complete with in-your-face bass line and a marching band. B keeps things melodic, sharing lines like, "Take you away from here/ There's nothing between us but space and time."
Have you heard B's full album or are you waiting for the official release? Let us know in the comments.