The multimedia pop queen is everywhere right now — tour! Tumblr! H&M billboards! — except on the radio. So what's the story?
Music Review

Beyoncé's Search For a Single

The multimedia pop queen is everywhere right now — tour! Tumblr! H&M billboards! — except on the radio. So what's the story?

For many of us, the phrase ''new Beyoncé single'' triggers a Pavlovian response. It starts with frantic mouse clicks, followed by a mad grab for headphones and a total loss of awareness of the outside world for the next four minutes (at minimum). That's because we know what the reward can be: a sui generis jam like ''Crazy in Love'' or ''Single Ladies'' that lifts pop music to a new level of perfectly controlled chaos.

But lately, Queen Bey hasn't given us much to drool over — or at least, anything new. After owning the Super Bowl halftime show and launching the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in April, she failed to deliver what seemed like a natural next step: a real opening salvo from her planned 2013 album (now on track for a November release). Instead we've been left with a string of semi-official tracks that feel more like intriguing puzzles. March's ''Bow Down/I Been On'' was a cerebral meditation on power; April's ''Standing on the Sun'' and May's ''Grown Woman'' boogied to intricate West African-inspired beats that sounded (and sadly stayed) miles away from Top 40.

It's no surprise that her most recent offering, the pandering ballad ''Rise Up,'' isn't top-shelf Beyoncé; it's a tie-in to the animated movie Epic, which she has a role in, and sounds every bit as rigid as the contract clause that probably made her record it. But she'll be back on her own terms soon: She's already reportedly logged studio time with Kanye, Miguel, and Justin Timberlake — fellow trailblazers who surely spark Bey's creativity more than, say, a bit part in a CG movie about forest sprites. So even though ''Rise Up'' is a solid C, we're willing to scratch it from her permanent record and wait for her to bring her A game again.

Originally posted Jun 14, 2013 Published in issue #1264 Jun 21, 2013 Order article reprints
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