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Album: Beyoncé, I Am ... Sasha Fierce, (Columbia)

Not such an independent woman after all

In the build-up to 'I Am ... Sasha Fierce', Beyoncé's cheerleaders have been keen to stress that she is in a different "place" now. One can only assume she's moved house, because in any figurative sense, the singer is exactly where she already was.

She gets prime songwriting credit on every song, but she's backed up by heavyweights such as Ryan Tedder (Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love") and Amanda Ghost (James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"). The team of producers, too, is big enough to crew a nuclear sub. It therefore ends up like every other megastar album nowadays, packed with depressingly lucrative balladry such as "If I Was A Boy". Add the social conservatism of "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" and God-bothering goo such as "Ave Maria", not to mention unrequired dictionary rewriting on "Diva" ("A diva is a female version of a hustler..."), and the result is a real stinker. Time for Beyonce to really move over to a different "place", and make way for lil' sis Solange.

Pick of the Album: If you absolutely must: 'Radio'

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