Here in MTV’s Newsroom, we love Beyonce. Perhaps a little too unconditionally for our own good, but that’s not the point. So it’s with a heavy heart that we report the first two singles from her much-anticipated album 4 have underperformed on the charts.
Fan reaction to the lead single, the Major Lazer-sampling “Run the World (Girls),” has been mixed (the song makes more sense in the context of the album, trust us), leading it to peak at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. After just eight weeks on the chart, it has already fallen to No. 64. The follow-up ballad, “Best Thing I Never Had,” isn’t fairing any better: Two weeks into its chart run, it has crept to only No. 75 after making its debut at 84.
But as those who have listened to the full record can attest, she has more than a few up-tempo jams up her sleeve to turn things around. The best has to be “Countdown,” an upbeat, horn-heavy track that is impossible to resist. It’s Beyonce at her best, and it needs to be her next single.
We’d love to embed it for your listening pleasure, but since the album hasn’t been released yet – it hits stores June 28; do what you must to prepare – there is no official source. The album leaked online earlier this month, though, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it if you poke around the interwebs. So go find it, listen (we'll wait...) and then read on for why we think it would tear up the charts.
(Ed. Note: We do not condone the illegal downloading of music. The above link is to an MTV News article reporting on the album leak and not a downloading site. We streamed the song online, we did not download it, and our words were meant to reflect that. Perhaps they were not as clear as they should have been. Our apologies. And for the record, as mega-fans of B, we intend to buy the deluxe edition of the album so we can get not only the additional songs but the gorgeous album art as well.)
The song has a flair that reminds us of songs from past Beyonce albums, specifically the best tracks from B’Day, and that’s pretty much the highest compliment we can pay any pop song. It’s energetic, fun and, well, fierce. Rolling Stone calls “Countdown” “a playful, inventive jam that revisits the sassy spirit of B'Day's ‘Get Me Bodied,’ but swaps out that song's jumpy rhythm for a heavy brass riff and steel drum fills.”
Any song that inspires comparisons to “Get Me Bodied” is just fine with us.
We love that B decided to get experimental on 4. That she doesn’t just keep putting out the same album over and over again is one of the big reasons we love her so much. 4 is a great mix of torchy ballads and ‘90s-inspired mid-tempo R&B with plenty of stand-out tracks (“Party” featuring Andre 3000 and produced by Kanye West, anyone?). It’s mature and innovative. But the familiarity that “Countdown” instantly inspires should not be underestimated when it comes to snagging the two things that make a single a hit: radio play and digital sales.
A Top 40 station in Tulsa, Okla., simply isn’t going to jump all over a Major Lazer/Diplo jam, even if it’s being sung by one of the biggest stars in the world.
We love 4 and wish she would have eased fans into the album rather than tossing divisive singles out ahead of it. Beyonce is a big enough star that the iffy reception “Girls” and “Best Thing” received shouldn’t really impact her record sales, but we would love to see Queen B back where she belongs: at the top of the singles charts. She’s been there five times before (with “Irreplaceable,” “Crazy In Love,” Single Ladies,” “Check On It” and “Baby Boy”) and we think “Countdown” could put her there again.
So what do you think? Has “Run the World (Girls)” turned you off of '4'? Or will you pick it up anyway because you trust in the awesomeness of Beyonce? In the meantime, check out the “Run the World (Girls)” video below, turn it up, then listen to it again (it grows on you … again, you’re just going to have to trust us).