I Am… Sasha Fierce
By the time Beyoncé’s third solo album dropped in 2008, her pop stardom was firmly established and everyone in the country was humming “To the left, to the left” whether they wanted to or not. But Sasha Fierce, with its promise of a new alternate persona, could easily have been a misstep or an overreach. Alter egos in pop music have a dicey history: sometimes you get Ziggy Stardust or Dr. Octagon; other times you’re stuck with Chris Gaines. And does any artist need the protective armor of a persona less than Beyoncé? She said she created Sasha Fierce to unleash her “fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side.” Which is like Little Richard saying he needs an excuse to be more flamboyant.
But no missteps here. This was the album that gave the world “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” an aggressively catchy single that dominated the airwaves and launched a video whose iconically imitable choreo got invoked on Glee and Saturday Night Live. It was also the video that prompted Kanye to storm the Video Music Awards stage and interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, itself an incursion that spawned a million memes and comedy bits. Basically, “Single Ladies” is directly or indirectly responsible for approximately 12% of all early-2000s pop culture.