B'Day is Beyonce's second studio album that was released on September 4, 2006 by Columbia Records, Music World Entertainment and Sony Urban.
- Deja Vu (featuring Jay-Z) 4:00
- Get Me Bodied 3:25
- Suga Mama 3:25
- Upgrade U (featuring Jay-Z) 4:32
- Ring The Alarm 3:23
- Kitty Kat 3:55
- Freakum Dress 3:20
- Green Light 3:29
- Irreplaceable 3:47
- Resentment 4:40
In 2002, Beyoncé had productive studio sessions while making her debut album "Dangerously in Love", recording up to 45 songs. After the release of her debut album in 2003, she had planned to produce a follow-up album using several of the leftover tracks.
However, on January 7, 2004, a spokesperson for her record label Columbia Records announced that Beyoncé had put her plans on hold in order to concentrate on the recording of "Destiny Fulfilled" (the final studio album by Destiny's Child) and to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, Texas, which was a childhood dream of hers.
In late 2005, Beyoncé decided to postpone the recording of her second studio album because she had landed the lead role in "Dreamgirls", a film adaptation of the 1981 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.
As she wanted to focus on one project at a time, Beyoncé decided to wait until the film was completed before returning to the recording studio. She later told Billboard: "I'm not going to write for the album until I finish doing the movie."
While having a month-long vacation after filming Dreamgirls, Beyoncé went to the studio to start working on the album. She said: "[When filming ended] I had so many things bottled up, so many emotions, so many ideas," prompting her to begin working without telling her father and then-manager Mathew Knowles.
Beyoncé kept the recording of B'Day somewhat quiet, telling only her artists and repertoire executive Max Gousse, and the team of producers they contacted to collaborate for the album.
Beyonce began working with songwriters and producers Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins, Sean Garrett, Cameron Wallace, the Neptunes, Norwegian production duo Stargate, American hip hop producer and rapper Swizz Beatz, and Walter Millsap.
Two female songwriters were also included in the production team who helped structure the album: Beyoncé's cousin Angela Beyincé (who had previously collaborated in Dangerously in Love") and up-and-coming songwriter Makeba Riddick, who made her way onto the team after writing "Déjà Vu", the lead single off the album.
Recording & Production
Beyoncé rented the Sony Music Studios in New York City, New York, and was influenced by her now-husband Jay-Z's method of collaborating with multiple record producers; she used four recording studios simultaneously.She booked Harrison, Jerkins and Garrett, each with a room to work in.
During the sessions, Beyoncé would move from studio to studio to check on her producers' progress, later claiming this fostered "healthy competition" among producers. When she conceived a potential song, she would tell the group who would deliberate, and after three hours the song would be created.
While Beyonce and the team brainstormed the lyrics, other collaborators such as the Neptunes, Jerkins and Swizz Beatz would simultaneously produce the tracks.
They would sometimes begin working at eleven o'clock, spending up to fourteen hours a day in the studios during the recording process. Beyoncé arranged, co-wrote and co-produced all of the songs on the album.
Makeba Riddick, in an interview with MTV News, recounted her experience in the production: "[Beyoncé] had multiple producers in Sony Studios. She booked out the whole studio and she had the biggest and best producers in there. She would have us in one room, we would start collaborating with one producer, then she would go and start something else with another producer. We would bounce around to the different rooms and work with the different producers. It was definitely a factory type of process."
The album was completed within three weeks, ahead of the originally scheduled six weeks.
Swizz Beatz co-produced four songs for the album, the most from a single producer in the team. Beyoncé recorded three songs a day, finishing recording within two weeks in April 2006.
Other recording locations included Great Divide Studios in Aspen, Colorado (where "Freakum Dress" was recorded), and Los Angeles, California recording studios Lair Studios (where "Irreplaceable" was recorded), Henson Recording Studios (where bonus track "Check on It" was recorded) and Record Plant (where "Kitty Kat" and "Green Light were recorded and "Déjà Vu" was assisted); all of the songs from the standard edition of B'Day were recorded at Sony Music Studios in New York City and mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Los Angeles.
Twenty-five songs were produced for the album; ten of the tracks were selected for the standard edition track listing, and mastered in early July by Brian "Big Bass" Gardner in Los Angeles, California.
Many of the themes and musical styles of the album were inspired by Beyoncé's role in "Dreamgirls."
The plot of the film revolves around The Dreams, a fictional 1960s group of three female singers who attempt success in the mainstream music industry with the help of their manager Curtis Taylor.
Beyoncé portrays Deena Jones, the lead singer of the group and the wife of Taylor, and is emotionally abused by him. Because of her role, Beyoncé was inspired to produce an album with an overriding theme of feminism and female empowerment.
In the bonus track "Encore for the Fans", Beyoncé says: "Because I was so inspired by Deena, I wrote songs that were saying all the things I wish she would have said in the film."
"B'Day" was influenced by a variety of American genres and like Beyoncé's previous album, it incorporated urban contemporary elements including contemporary R&B and hip hop.
Some songs have 1970s and 1980s styles, inspired through record sampling. "Suga Mama", which employs blues-guitar samples from Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers' "Searching for Soul", contains a 1970s funk and 1980s go-go-influenced melody.
"Upgrade U" is sampled from Betty Wright's song "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do." "Resentment" used Curtis Mayfield's "Think (Instrumental)" from the "Super Fly" soundtrack.
"Déjà Vu" has 1970s influence, "Green Light" has a classic groove and "Get Me Bodied" features twang, a musical style that originated from Texas
Beyoncé crafted most songs on B'Day through live instrumentation and diverse techniques. This is evident on "Déjà Vu", which utilizes bass guitar, conga, hi-hat, horns and the 808 drum; it also features rap vocals by Jay-Z.
In an interview with MTV, Beyoncé said: "When I recorded 'Déjà Vu' [...] I knew that even before I started working on my album, I wanted to add live instruments to all of my songs..."
Lyrically, the song details a woman being constantly reminded of a past lover, shown in the lines: "Is it because I'm missing you that I'm having déjà vu?"
"Get Me Bodied", the second track on B'Day, is a moderate R&B, and bounce song which displays influences of dance-pop, dancehall and funk music which speaks about a female protagonist going out and dressing up suitably to leave a lasting impression and get what she's looking for.
The following track "Suga Mama" is a moderate R&B and soul song which displays influences of the 1960s as well as 1970s funk and rock music, also containing limited elements of the 1980s go-go and sounds more closely resembling live music than Beyoncé's previous recordings.
Lyrically, it features the female protagonist offering up the keys to her house and car, and her credit card just to keep her love interest and his good loving at home, presumably so that he can listen to her collection of old soul records.
These interpretations are shown in the lines: "It's so good to the point that I'll do anything just to keep you home ... Tell me what you want me to buy, my accountant's waiting on the phone ..."
The woman also sees the man as a sex object, asking him to sit on her lap and "take it off while I watch you perform".
"Upgrade U", which features Jay-Z, follows, and speaks about a woman offering luxuries to a man, to upgrade his lifestyle and reputation, similar to the concept of "Suga Mama"." Musically, it's a hip hop song, with influences of pop, soul and R&B.
The album's fifth track and second single "Ring the Alarm", which is an R&B song incorporating elements of punk rock, is noted for the use of a siren in its melody and "shows a harder edge to Beyoncé's sound".
Lyrically, it features Beyoncé as the female protagonist impersonating a threatened woman involved in a love triangle and is unwilling to allow another woman to profit from all the efforts she put on to make her lover a better man.
The sixth track "Kitty Kat" is a smooth R&B song with hip hop influences which speaks about the female protagonist who feels that her love interest has underestimated her.
"Freakum Dress" is a crescendo that uses a two-note riff and galloping beats. The song "advises women who have partners with straying eyes to put on sexy dresses and grind on other guys in the club to regain their affections."
Meanwhile, the use of the "uh-huh huh huh" vocals and brassy stabs in the R&B and funk break-up song "Green Light" is a direct echo to "Crazy in Love", according to Peter Robinson of The Guardian.
"Irreplaceable" is a midtempo ballad with pop and R&B influences and speaks of a breakdown of a woman's relationship with a man after she discovers his infidelity.
The standard edition's closing track "Resentment" is a soul and soft rock ballad about a gritty, agitated goodbye which adds a "different kind of overwrought drama".
"Beautiful Liar", the opening track on the deluxe edition and duet with Shakira, is an R&B and pop song. Lyrically, it speaks about two women who chose not to end a friendship because of a man who has cheated both of them; its main theme is female independence.
The fifth track on the deluxe edition "Welcome to Hollywood" is Beyoncé's solo version of Jay-Z's song "Hollywood" on which she's featured. It's a disco-influenced R&B song which speaks of tiredness celebrities sometimes feel.
"Flaws and All", the seventh track, is an R&B and trip hop song on which Beyoncé shows appreciation for the love given by her love interest, who sees through all of her flaws and loves her unconditionally.
"Still in Love (Kissing You)", which was later replaced by "If", is a cover of Des'ree's pop ballad "Kissing You".
"If" is a ballad on which a female protagonist is disappointed with the way her love interest treats her and thinks that even his best friend treats her better and pays more attention to her.
"World Wide Woman" is an uptempo R&B song on which Beyoncé calls herself "a world wide woman", a play on term world wide web.
The deluxe edition also includes "Listen", which appeared in the film Dreamgirls, in which Beyoncé starred, and its soundtrack. It's a soul and R&B ballad and was called by its co-writer Anne Preven a song on which the film's character Deena Jones, portrayed by Beyoncé, is exclaiming: "You don't know who I am, and I know I do."
"B'Day" was a subject of various controversies.
The music video for its lead single "Déjà Vu" caused controversy due to its sexually suggestive content. A news article published by Hindustan Times reported that a particular scene in the video is suggestive of oral sex.
Natalie Y. Moore of In These Times echoed the latter's commentary, writing that the video showcases Beyoncé "strutting her sexuality", and that in Jay-Z's scenes it "looks as if any minute now she'll give him fellatio."
The music video later appeared on Yahoo! Music News' list "Real Turkeys: The Worst Videos of All Time", which pointed to the negative fan reaction and stated: "It's probably the least horrific video listed ... but as far as Beyoncé videos go, it is a stinker."
According to an MTV News staff report, as of July 2006, over two thousand people had signed an online petition addressed to Beyoncé's record label Columbia Records, demanding a reshoot for the video. By the end of August 2006, over five thousand additional fans had signed it.
The petition requested the video to be taped again because it was considered to be "an underwhelming representation of the talent and quality of previous music-video projects of Ms. Beyoncé". Included in the list of offenses towards the video were "a lack of theme, dizzying editing, over-the-top wardrobe choices, and unacceptable interactions" between Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Beyoncé's dance moves were also called into question by the petition, qualifying them as "erratic, confusing and alarming at times."
Additionally, fans complained about sexual theme depicted in the video, describing that some scenes as "unacceptable interactions [between Beyoncé and Jay-Z]" while also complaining of a "non-existent sexual chemistry" between the two of them.
The lyrics of "Ring the Alarm" were rumored to be about Barbadian singer Rihanna's relationship with rapper and Beyoncé's now-husband Jay-Z.
According to a media speculation, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Jay-Z were part of a love triangle in 2006. It was rumored that Jay-Z had always been faithful to Beyoncé until he met Rihanna, whose popularity grew considerably during that year and that she tempted Jay-Z to be in a romantic relationship with her while he was still with Beyoncé.
As commented by Tom Breihan of The Village Voice, Beyoncé took advantage of "[people's] sympathy and unleash[ed] a burst of public rage in the form of ['Ring the Alarm']".
However, in an interview for Seventeen, Beyonce clarified that the lyrics had no connection with Rihanna, before adding that she was unaware of the rumors that had been circulating.
Concerned that someone was trying to sabotage the release of B'Day, her father and manager Mathew Knowles released an official statement, stating: "It is apparent that there is a consistent plan by some to create chaos around Beyoncé's B'Day album release on September 4 in the US. First, it was a petition against the single, 'Déjà Vu', then a rumor regarding conflict between Beyoncé and Rihanna, seizures caused by the 'Ring the Alarm' video, putting out a single to compete with LeToya's album and now to add to all the ridiculous rumors, is my plan to postpone the release of her 'B'Day' album. What will be next? Beyoncé's cut off all her hair? Dyed it green? Maybe she's singing the songs in reverse with some hidden subliminal message!"
The cover artwork for the single "Ring the Alarm" fueled controversy after Beyoncé used alligators during the photo shoot. Beyoncé revealed that using the alligators and taping their mouths shut was her idea.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization which had previously confronted her after she had used furs for her fashion line's clothing design, contacted a biologist who later wrote a letter to her, stating: "As a specialist in reptile biology and welfare, I'm concerned about your posing with a terrified baby alligator for your new album cover. Humans and alligators are not natural bedfellows, and the two should not mix at events such as photo shoots. In my view, doing so is arguably abusive to an animal."
Controversy also arose over the writing credits on "Irreplaceable".
Ne-Yo (who co-wrote the song) told MTV: "Apparently Beyoncé was at a show somewhere and right before the song came on she said, 'I wrote this for all my ladies' and then the song came on ... The song is a co-write. I wrote the lyrics, I wrote all the lyrics. Beyoncé helped me with the melodies and the harmonies and the vocal arrangement and that makes it a co-write. Meaning my contribution and her contribution made that song what it is."
In 2011, Ne-Yo said that he wrote the song for himself, but thought that it would suit Beyoncé better, and later regretted giving the song to her.
Some of Beyoncé's fans read Ne-Yo's remark as disrespectful towards her; however, he clarified his comment later through Twitter, writing: "I said I originally wrote the song for me. ... Once I realized how the song comes across if sung by a guy, that's when I decided to give it away."
In 2007, Beyoncé appeared on billboards and newspapers across Australia holding an antiquated cigarette holder. Taken from the back cover artwork of the album, the image provoked response from an anti-smoking group, stating that she did not need to add the cigarette holder "to make herself appear more sophisticated."
During that same year, three weeks after their release, the deluxe edition of "B'Day" and the "B'Day" Anthology Video Album were temporarily ceased for retail in stores.
A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed due to breach of contract of using "Still in Love (Kissing You)", a cover version of British singer Des'ree's original song "Kissing You".
Not intended for the album's inclusion, Des'ree's deal also stipulated that the title of the song was not to be altered, and a music video was not to be made. After the infringement case, the song was removed from the reissue of the deluxe edition and was replaced by "If". The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in October 2007.
"B'Day" debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 on September 23, 2006, selling over 541,000 units in its first week.
The album scored Beyoncé's highest debut-week album sales until it was surpassed by her 2013 self-titled fifth studio album, which sold 617,213 digital copies in its first week.
The album gave Beyoncé her second number-one debut on the chart following "Dangerously in Love" which was noted by Keith Caulfield of Billboard, surmising that perhaps "its handsome debut was generated by goodwill earned from the performance of her smash debut album.
The album fell to number three in its second week and to number six the following week, falling off the top ten in its fourth week at number eleven.
After seven weeks of being outside the top ten, "B'Day" reached number nine on the chart dated December 2, 2006 due to the success of its single "Irreplaceable", which helped the album in regaining its strength. It climbed to number six the following week, becoming the week's "greatest gainer". The following week, the album fell off the top ten again, charting at number eleven.
By the end of 2006, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and became the thirty-eighth best-selling album of that year in the United States.
"B'Day" re-entered the top ten again, at number six, on the chart dated January 27, 2007, while "Dreamgirls: Music from the Motion Picture" (on which Beyoncé performed) was at the top.
The album remained within the top ten the following week at number ten before falling to number thirteen on the chart dated February 10, 2007.
The RIAA re-certified "B'Day" triple platinum on April 16, 2007, combining the sales from the standard and deluxe editions.
On the Billboard 200 chart dated April 21, 2007, the album jumped from number sixty-nine to number six due to the release of its deluxe edition, gaining nine-hundred-and-three percent in sales and becoming the week's "greatest gainer", remaining within the top ten the following week at number seven before falling to number thirteen on the chart dated May 5, 2007.
The album spent a total of seventy-four weeks on the Billboard 200, becoming the eleventh best-selling album in the United States of 2007.
"B'Day" has sold 3.4 million copies in the United States and eight million copies worldwide.
"B'Day" received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 70, based on 23 reviews.
Jody Rosen of Entertainment Weekly, commented that the album's songs "arrive in huge gusts of rhythm and emotion, with Beyoncé's voice rippling over clattery beats."
Jonah Weiner of Blender commented that "sweaty up-tempo numbers prove the best platform for Beyoncé's rapperly phrasing and pipe-flaunting fireballs".
Andy Kellman of AllMusic felt that, despite "no songs with the smooth elegance" of "Me, Myself and I" or "Be with You", the album is "lean in a beneficial way."
The Boston Globe's Sarah Rodman commented that the production team helped Beyoncé "focus on edgier, up-tempo tracks that take her sweet soprano to new places".
Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian felt that, "apart from a few pop-R&B space-fillers, there's not much to dislike about B'Day."
Robert Christgau from MSN Music said "on most of [the songs] she's wronged yet still in control because she's got so much money" and felt that Beyoncé "earns her props" if "opulence can signify liberation in this grotesquely materialistic time, as in hip-hop it can".
In a mixed review, Jon Pareles of The New York Times found the album "tense, high-strung and obsessive", and said that it was neither "ingratiating or seductive."
Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times observed that Beyoncé "heads into a new, more challenging terrain", but "some of the experiments don't click."
Although he found the album "solid", Mike Joseph of PopMatters said that "aside from its relatively short running time, it sounds suspiciously under produced."
Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone averred that "while the mostly up-tempo disc never lacks for energy, some of the more beat-driven tracks feel harmonically and melodically undercooked, with hooks that don't live up to 'Crazy in Love' or the best Destiny's Child hits".
Priya Elan of NME cited only "Freakum Dress" and "Ring the Alarm" as highlights and criticized that "too many tracks sound like updated versions of former glories", with no song on-par with "Crazy in Love."