- 07 Jul 03
The majority of Dangerously is comprised of some of the slowest, smoochiest All Woman-compilation-style soul ballads this side of your debs.
Can this really be Beyoncé, the devout Texas prodigy who co-penned thumping, twanging scrub-dissers ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ and ‘Survivor’ and ‘Independent Women Pt. 1’ – half post-Jenny Jones beauty-shop feminism, half space-cadet sonic innovation, and stone R’n’B-pop classics to a man? Can this really be the same woman who towered over the late ’90s, and over her two merely human bandmates in Destiny’s Child, like a gold-lame funk colossus – all streaming honey-coloured hair and terrifyingly athletic thighs - taunting, “Is my body too bootylicious for ya, babe?”
Well, yes. The Amazonian driving force behind arguably the most monumentally successful and influential girl group since the Supremes has opted, with her debut solo album, not to deliver a post-Neptunes pop monolith like Justified or even a one-woman sequel to Survivor, but rather to introduce us to her inner sex kitten, with the emphasis on ‘kitten’. The majority of Dangerously... is comprised of some of the slowest, smoochiest All Woman-compilation-style soul ballads this side of your debs. Nine of them, in fact. In a row. Yikes.
This scented-bath-and-candles love-’em-up culminates with a shudderingly pedestrian Luther Vandross duet and a heartfelt but no less cringe-inducing paean to ‘Daddy’, which sounds exactly like you think it does. Even a Missy Elliott collaboration is a woefully wasted opportunity (the downright kooky Zodiac list song ‘Signs’: “Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces...” you get the picture).
Mind you, the album is still the cheapest way to get the clutch of flawless pop singles home. ‘Crazy In Love’, with its Chi-Lites brass break, massed vocal harmonies and old-school block-party percussion, has the muscular, storming-the-city quality that distinguishes Destiny’s Child’s best tracks; whilst the swirling Bollywood strings and taut syncopation of ‘Naughty Girl’ integrates a vocal lift from Donna Summer’s ‘Love To Love You, Baby’ (pure genius). Not least, there’s the buzzing thump-and-grind of ‘Hip Hop Star’, with typically off-the-hook vocal contributions from Outkast’s Big Boi, who hilariously advises, “Everybody got a little Rick James in they veins.” Not nearly enough, in Beyoncé’s case.