I Am... Sasha Fierce is Beyonce's third studio album that was released on November 12, 2008 by Columbia Records and Music World Entertainment.
- If I Were A Boy 4:10
- Halo 4:22
- Disappear 4:29
- Broken-Hearted Girl 4:39
- Ave Maria 3:42
- Satellites 3:07
- Smash Into You 4:31
- Satellites 3:06
- That's Why You're Beautiful 3:41
- Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) 3:13
- Radio 3:39
- Diva 3:21
- Sweet Dreams 3:28
- Video Phone 3:35
- Hello 4:16
- Ego 3:56
- Scared of Lonely 3:42
The recording of "I Am... Sasha Fierce" took place over an eight-month period.
Beyoncé recorded the album in sessions at Bangladesh Studios, PatchWerk Recording Studios, Silent Sound Studios and Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, Georgia; Chung King Studios, Electric Lady Studios, Roc the Mic Studios and Strawberrybee Productions in New York City, New York; GAD Studios in Ibiza, Spain; Mansfield Studios and The Campground in Los Angeles, California; South Beat Studios in Miami Beach, Florida; and The Boom Boom Room in Burbank, California.
Beyoncé either co-wrote or co-produced all material on the album. She collaborated with several record producers and songwriters, including Babyface, Stargate (production duo composed of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen), Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, Darkchild, Sean Garrett, Solange Knowles, Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, Ryan Tedder, Bangladesh, Ian Dench, Dave McCracken, Wayne Wilkins and Blac Elvis.
She also collaborated with some musicians she had never worked with in the past, such as Toby Gad and BC Jean on "If I Were a Boy"; she also worked again with Amanda Ghost on "Disappear."
According to Beyonce about the development of the album: "I'm a human being. I cry. I'm very passionate and sensitive. My feelings get hurt. I get scared and nervous like everyone else. And I wanted to show that about myself. It [The album] is about love. I'm a woman, I'm married, and this portion of my life is all in the album. It's a lot more personal. I'm very private and I don't talk about a lot of things, but there are certain songs that are on the album that are very personal. It's [The album] my diary. It's my story... I still have my album of fun songs."
For the "I Am..." disc, Beyoncé was influenced by folk and alternative rock genres, while incorporating other instruments she had not normally used previously, such as the acoustic guitar.
Tedder specifically assisted Beyoncé with crafting the album's balladry. The ballads were crafted in a way to combine "the best elements" of pop and soul music, while simultaneously "expanding the possibilities of both genres".
Beyoncé attempted something different as people had strong expectations from her; she experimented with stronger lyrics.
She worked with Ghost to re-write Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" after having co-written "Disappear" in London, England. Ghost told The Daily Telegraph that they were both inspired by their then-recent marriages and had walked down the aisle to "Ave Maria".
The song "Smash Into You" (featured on the deluxe edition of the album) was originally slated to appear on Jon McLaughlin's sophomore album, "OK Now" under the name "Smack Into You", but it was cut from the finalized tracklist after it was leaked online and was subsequently given to Beyonce.
During the nine-month period between November 2007 and August 2008, Beyoncé recorded over seventy songs and decided during the editing process that she didn't want to reconcile the two approaches into one disc; if a song was meaningless to her, she would cut it off during the process of elimination for the final track listing.
After a process of elimination, 12 tracks were selected to be placed on the standard edition of the album while 5 additional tracks were chosen to make the final cut for the deluxe edition of the album.
Beyoncé later revealed that songs from established producers like The Neptunes and Danja were not able to make the final cut.
In an interview for Billboard magazine, Beyoncé described "I Am... Sasha Fierce" as a double album. She said: "One side has songs that are more mainstream and another has my more traditional R&B songs for my fans who've been there the whole time. Some of it sounds like Barbra Streisand, Karen Carpenter and The Beatles around the 1970s."
Music writer Andy Kellman of AllMusic viewed its first disc as "essentially a small set of adult contemporary ballads. Acoustic guitars, pianos, strings, contemplative soul searching, and grand sweeping gestures fill it out, with more roots in '70s soft rock than soul."
The second disc "Sasha Fierce" contains consistent electro influences, which are displayed in songs like "Radio" and "Sweet Dreams".
Kellman said in his review that "Diva" resembles "B'Day"'s "Freakum Dress" or "Ring the Alarm" in terms of audacity.
Despite being on the Sasha Fierce disc, "Ego", "Why Don't You Love Me" and "Scared of Lonely" were noted to be a meeting ground between the album's halves.
According to Jennifer Vineyard of MTV News, they resemble Sasha Fierce musically, but thematically and lyrically, they are vulnerable like Beyoncé on the "I Am..." disc.
The album formally introduces Beyoncé's alter ego Sasha Fierce. She revealed that Sasha was born during the making of her hit single "Crazy in Love."
In an interview with Emmet Sullivan of People magazine, Beyoncé affirmed that her alter ego is strictly for the stage, with the editor describing Sasha Fierce as her sensual, aggressive alter ego.
"If I Were a Boy" (the first single of I Am...") stands as the only song on either disc that Beyoncé did not co-write. BC Jean, who wrote most of the song's lyrics, took inspiration from a poor relationship. Beyoncé explained in Essence that it is different from her previous songs in the sense that it is not a traditional R&B song.
Music critics remarked that the song seemed to be a mixture of her hit single "Irreplaceable", Fergie's single "Big Girls Don't Cry" and Ciara's single "Like a Boy."
Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times saw the song's theme of female empowerment as an expansion on that of "Irreplaceable".
Musically, "Single Ladies" is an upbeat-dance-pop and R&B song, and features dancehall and bounce influences.
According to Jonah Weiner of Blender, the song makes a clear reference to marriage while Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune felt that the lyrics had a connection with "post-breakup".
"Halo" (composed by Ryan Tedder and Evan Bogart) was initially intended for Beyoncé, but it was almost recorded by Leona Lewis due to Beyoncé's schedule.
According to Christian Williams of Billboard, "Halo" has a mainstream pop sound, with subtle R&B undertones.
"Ave Maria" samples Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria".
Critics noted "Diva" as a variation on Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and coined it as its female counterpart.
"Diva" carries a stuttering beat.
"Sweet Dreams" was critically acclaimed for its use of electronic bassline, which some critics compared to Michael Jackson's "Beat It" because of its electropop sound.
"Sweet Dreams" is derived from contemporary R&B and incorporates influences from the classic 1980s funk.
"Broken-Hearted Girl" is a midtempo piano ballad; its production and melody is backed by strings and a drum machine beat.
According to Spence D. of IGN Music, "Hello" comes off like another ballad that "populate[s] the first part of the album." The song contains the Jerry Maguire line: "You had me at hello" as part of its chorus. It essentially consists of "sweet guitar-picking and delicate harmonies."
According to critics, "Video Phone" contains lyrics that are in reference to "a celebration of Skype sex and putting on a solo show, on camera, for a guy you just met at the club."
The remixed version featured both Beyoncé and Lady Gaga trading verses with one another. Musically, the song consists of simple lyrics, with hidden innuendos, and is backed by thin-spread beats; Beyoncé and Gaga uttering gasps and groans while singing the song.
"Disappear" consists of "sweet guitar-picking and delicate harmonies".
"That's Why You're Beautiful" is a slow-tempo soft rock & rock power ballad, which consists of a "grungy" guitar riff and stuterring drums. Critics compared the song with the materials by Alice in Chains and Jill Scott.
The platinum edition of the album also included a cover version of Billy Joel's song "Honesty."
"I Am... Sasha Fierce" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, making it Beyonce's third consecutive number-one album in the United States, selling 482,000 units during its first week.
With this feat, Beyonce became the third female of the 2000s to have her first three albums debut on top of the Billboard 200.
The album has been certified double platinum by the RIAA; as of January 2014, it has sold 3.12 million copies in the United States.
"I Am... Sasha Fierce" received generally mixed reviews from critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, it received an average score of 62, based on 24 reviews.
Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani wrote that the album's "strength" is "its individual songs ... a testament to Beyoncé as one of today's most reliable singles artists", but felt that "the real disparity is her inability to reconcile the adult-contemporary schmaltz of I Am with the more modern, edgy sounds of Sasha Fierce."
Adam Mattera of The Observer felt that both discs lack depth, observing that the first is "too busy chasing radio formats to expose any genuine soul", and criticizing the second disc's "succession of independent woman anthems such as 'Single Ladies' and 'Diva', which will no doubt inspire drag queens the world over but leave most others bemused."
AllMusic's Andy Kellman called its double-disc "gimmick" "flimsy" and favored its second disc's "decent, if easily forgettable, upbeat pop." He expressed that on the "I Am..." disc, "Beyoncé feels each line to the fullest extent, which almost rescues the set's staidness."
In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Robert Christgau named it the "dud of the month," indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought." He found its "split-personality bit" to be "deeply vapid", only observing "three good songs on this 11-track artifact".
Jonah Weiner of Blender commented that "Beyoncé is still a beauty-shop feminist, quick with the smack-downs, and she still describes the rattling rush of love with preternatural poise".
Stacey Anderson of Spin commented that its first disc "meanders over [...] down-tempo cuts" and called ... Sasha "an intriguing but diluted direction".
The Village Voice's Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond felt that the "I Am..." disc lacks cohesion, but complimented "Sasha Fierce as "brassy, big-headed, confrontational, and witty," and stated, "each incendiary track challenges you to leave your inhibitions at coat-check."
Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone noted that its slow songs are "full of bland self-affirmation and saggy lines", but wrote that "the "Sasha" disc boasts Beyoncé's most adventurous music yet".
Colin McGuire of PopMatters called the album "a little rough around the edges at times" and viewed its Sasha Fierce disc as "a far more compelling trip down dance-lane".
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the album offers "two compelling sides" of Beyoncé and stated: "The collection might have been better served had she edited it down to one disc, rather than belabor what ultimately seems like a marketing gimmick. And while fans will surely speculate, there's little in the lyrics that feels more revealing than previous emotional fire-starters."
Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker found the album to be "something of a mess", mostly because the alter ego "trips on the idea of redefinition".