After leaking in demo form last night, Beyoncé’s “Girls (Who Run The World),” the first single from her imminent album, has appeared in fuller form. The Diplo-produced track, which samples Major Lazer’s “Pon de Floor,” is a bit overstuffed, but fairly enjoyable. It starts off sounding like a Willow Smith song, thanks to its schoolyard chants about “girls” over a militaristic beat–here we might remind you, also, that B turns 30 this September–but then Beyoncé’s sideways approach to melody comes in when she starts singing, and the song’s pretty unmistakably hers from that point on.
“Girls” is fun to listen to and will probably inspire lots of peppy YouTube tributes as it spools across the web, but there’s also something exhausting about it that goes beyond its cheer-team beats. It doesn’t seem so much like a song as it does a collection of movements, of snippets that can be broken down into iTunes previews. Make all the jokes about compositional ADD becoming more of an epidemic in this currently overstimulated age that you want, but more and more pop songs seem like they should heed Coco Chanel’s advice and take one accessory off before leaving the house; Rich Juzwiak noted Jessie J’s all-over-the-placeness in his review of her album Who You Are, and B collaborator Lady Gaga’s new single “Judas” also runneth over.
One could say that this overreaching in pop is an understandable response to the freefall the industry has been in, the competition music has from not just itself but from other distractions (TV, video games, online personals, interactions with other people); it’s an attempt to maximize ins, sort of like when the bagel place on your block that has been hurting decides to incorporate a frozen yogurt machine, or a burrito counter. It’s all there, sure. But is it satisfying?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 19, 2011