Consumer Guide Album
Beyoncé: Beyoncé (Platinum Edition) [Columbia, 2014]
Set me back 30 bucks, but shit--the box itself has a nice velvety feel. True, the booklet collects 20 video stills that squeeze the credits onto a single pink-on-black page, the 2015 calendar shows off a mostly b&w pin-up girl whose cunningly unkempt designer outfits we'll meet again when we get to the videos, and the elaborately overworked videos themselves should be approached with extreme caution--after you know the music, please. But where most live DVDs are de trop, this one rules, not just for Ms. Knowles's legendary stage discipline and expert dance routines but for a star-time visage further beautified by how readily it projects empathy, humor, and fun to fans who get it all. And of course, the reason to forswear the videos is to give the songs time to breathe, which they will--especially but not exclusively the sex sequence, which over seven well-differentiated tracks performs the unlikely feat of conveying an open-ended eroticism that varies because Mrs. Carter knows eroticism does, for each of us in our individual responses as well as for her. So let's agree that Queen Bey is at best a useful metaphor--when she tries to sing the part and gets all regal on our ass, her majesty quickly becomes a bore. Representing lust, on the other hand, loosens her up. Enter the bonus disc called "More": filthier "Drunk in Love," nastier "Flawless," cuter "Blow," high-rolling party song "7/11," Caribbean outtake "Standing in the Sun," and the sisterly, daughterly "Ring Off," in which the queen mother leaves her doggish husband and about time too. Best Bey ever.