Zane Lowe just premiered The Weeknd’s take on Florence + the Machine’s new singleShake It Out. It’s very dark and sexy, obviously. No singing from Abel’s part (unfortunately), just additional producing and baller beats by the xo-crew.
There are a few universal rules that apply to all upper-echelon pop divas, governing important aspects of their persona like the size of their hair and the judicious application of their stank reserves. One such rule can be read as follows: no diva is infallible. Beyoncé is not exempt from this golden rule. The lowest point of Dangerously in Love (and perhaps the nadir of Beyoncé’s entire career) is “Signs”, a misguided attempt at Soulquarians-style light funk balladry that induces more laughter than honest appreciation.
The musical backing of “Signs” is unmemorable, an inoffensive mélange of languid guitar snatches and bass plucks. The song’s lyrics, however, are a testament to the possible unintentional hilarity of the written word. Beyoncé cobbles together a chorus by chanting the names of every astrological sign, incorrectly references supposed sign traits (I’m thinking specifically of “freaky like a Taurus”) and generally struggles with the cockeyed astral theme.
The insanity is ramped up even further when Missy Elliott appears during the song’s second half, presumably to lend “Signs” some street-smart credibility. Her efforts are undermined by the puzzling decision to weave reversed fragments of Beyoncé’s voice through her segment of the track. The producer may have been striving for an intriguing sonic effect, but the result is feelings of confusion and ultimately, bemusement.
When I try to attribute the cringe-worthiness of “Signs” to a specific person or moment in Beyoncé’s career, I always imagine the following scenario. Picture a young Bey sitting at a dimly-lit desk, pen in hand, trying to craft a “mature” album cut that will finally prove her worth as an adult songwriter. She’s struggling with concepts when she decides to check her horoscope - and that’s when it hits her. A song about the different astrological signs was born!
Alas, this is pure amateur fantasy; Beyoncé didn’t even receive a tertiary writing credit on “Signs”. The song was penned and produced by Nisan Stewart, Craig Brockman and Missy Elliott. (It may be worth nothing that “Signs” is Brockman and Stewart’s sole contribution to Beyoncé’s discography.) Perhaps her lack of involvement in the making of “Signs” is partially responsible for its awfulness. No matter the song’s origins, it constitutes one of Beyoncé’s weakest moments. It’s worth a listen if you’re in the mood for a laugh.
This marks the end of today’s coverage of Dangerously in Love. Tomorrow will be spent discussing a much stronger and more consistent album, the underrated B’Day. Stay tuned!
1. Solar Bears - Dolls 2. Adultrock - Hermione 3. Matthew Dear - Slowdance 4. Flying Lotus - Tea Leaf Dancers (ft Andreya Triana) 5. Jaylib - The Red 6. King Midas Sound - One Ting (Dabrye mix) 7. Lennie Hibbert - Village Soul 8. Serge Gainsbourg - Requiem pour un Con 9. Tommy Guerrero - Gone Again 10. Erykah Badu - Me 11. Gil Scott Heron - New York is killing me 12. Outkast - Red Velvet 13. OFWGKTA - Money Talk