Beyonce Madness: Self-Titled Bracket

beyonceAre you ready for the first full round of voting?  For those of you who are still unfamiliar with Beyoncé's latest (2 month old) album, I am very excited to offer you an opportunity and excuse to check it out... and make painful decisions about which songs you like better than others.  Because that is exactly where we are going to begin.   *NOTE: I had trouble embedding these videos from youtube, so a lot of the videos are linked from the photos.  Also, if you are still in need of the full brackets, click here.

Grown Woman vs. Part II (On the Run)  
Although not officially part of the self-titled album, Grown Woman has been floating around online for a little longer than the rest, mostly because of this Pepsi commercial.  Before Drunk in Love was covered and remixed by everyone and anyone, this was probably the most recognized song from Beyoncé, which is why it's seeded as #1.  
If you've been following since the weekend, you are already familiar with Part II (On the Run), the song that won the vote-in spot in The First Four.  It's unfortunate that this is going to be the only song in the bracket without an official music video to accompany it, but please don't let that fact influence whether this is a contender.  Sonically alone, this has a lot of potential to compete against anything on the list.
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8. Heaven vs. 9. Pretty Hurts
The two big ballads from the album go head to head.  Pretty Hurts opens the "visual album" with an exploration of what we sacrifice for beauty and esteem.  The video is one of my favourites from the album, although depending on the day, I could say that about nearly every one of them.  I guess that's why you have to decide.


Meanwhile, Heaven is sad.  And absolutely beautiful.  Like an elegy to her miscarried baby (I assume), she whispers and cries out, "heaven couldn't wait for you".  In this context, I can only assume the video is illustrating the life she imagines for her baby.  It's tragic and touching, and one of the best ballads she's ever done.


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5. XO vs. 12. Superpower
The most radio-friendly track on the album is a force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes with a video that pictures the Queen of everything as a regular person with whom you might enjoy a visit to the fair.

But XO is up against another inevitable force: a Frank Ocean penned love song.  There are two mistakes in the video for Superpower, however: the fact that Frank Ocean doesn't make an appearance (while nearly everyone else in the music industry does), and Beyoncé's weird outfit.  Even so, this is a truly great duet between two beautiful, soulful people.
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13. Haunted vs. 4.***Flawless
Both of these tracks are excellent examples of the new Beyoncé.  Both are dripping in Jay-Z influence in flow and phrasing.  Haunted is actually split into two videos:  Ghost comes from the first half of the song which is mostly rap/talking, while the second half retains the track name and is a bit more melodic.  Anyway, I think you should take them together, so here are both videos.


And then there is the ever-quotable ***Flawless, both song title AND appropriate adjective for the song.  It has everything you could want in an empowering anthem, including a reference to some band no one's ever heard of (Skeleton Crew) and more importantly, a boss Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche TED Talk on feminism.


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3. Partition vs 14. Jealous                                                                           This is a particularly difficult pairing because these songs are so connected visually on the album, although like Haunted, Partition is split into two videos, with the audio from the Yoncé video opening the track.  Partition is possibly the most raw and sexy track on the album (and that is saying something), while Jealous is one of the most vulnerable and honest (regardless of whether you think Beyoncé actually still cooks, naked or otherwise).




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11. No Angel vs. 6. Rocket                                                                             Both of these songs are ridiculously sexy.  No Angel is one of the most thought provoking videos for me.  I think it's the anti-thesis to J Lo's Jenny from the Block.  Beyoncé is being honest about the fact that celebrity has changed her, and she doesn't fit in where she came from.


Meanwhile, Rocket takes a far less subtle approach, especially when paired with the video.  I can't help but hear this as a Marvin Gaye throwback, simulating a sexual experience but keeping to a classic R&B sound and structure.  Hot.


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7. Blow vs 10. Blue
This is easily the most awkward match-up in this bracket.  A super sexy ode to pleasure whose video is full of neon-wearing dancers in a roller rink... battling a down-to-earth ode to Beyonce's daughter, Blue Ivy (with a video shot in Brazil... so as low-key as that can be).




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2. Drunk in Love vs. 15. Mine
And finally, the two big rap collaboration tracks on the album - the first with Beyonce's real-life boo, Jay Z, and the second with Canadian baby face of rap music, Drake.  Without leaning too heavily on which rapper you prefer, vote for the song you actually like better.  Either way, Bey kills it on both tracks.



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That's it for now!  Stay tuned to vote on more brackets... next up, your favourite Destiny's Child tracks!