B'DAY Deluxe Edition not only has all of the classic original B'DAY recordings but includes 3 brand new, never released songs and 6 brand new Spanish songs. Included in the repertoire is the first single "Beautiful Liar" featuring Shakira and "Gitana" featuring superstar "Alejandro Fernandez."
The release of the original version of B'Day came at the perfect time in my life. It came out the day before I had to return to work after my summer break and I was depressed, not only by that, but also by other things going on in my life. On September 5, 2006, I went to the music store and bought two copies. (I now own four copies, including the deluxe edition). I opened it and shoved the CD in my car stereo. What I heard changed my life. The songs were flawlessly produced and Beyoncé's vocal delivery was energetic, enthusiastic, swaggering, powerful and charismatic. Every song was amazing. Never have upbeat songs been graced with such beautiful, complex harmonies! It is now my favorite album of all time, even though I have had countless people shake their heads and laugh at this statement. (I plan to have many more after posting this review, too.) This album offered me an escape from my problems that even Mary J. Blige's My Life and Me'Shell NdegéOcello's Bitter couldn't bring to me, and for this I am thankful.Considering this, I promise to give an absolutely truthful review that will answer the essential question at hand: does it live up to, or is it better than, the original? I feel no need to review songs from the original because you've most likely heard them on the radio, bought the album and/or seen the videos. Plus, I pretty much thought it was flawless.There has been some confusion and I'd like to clear it up. The deluxe edition is a two-disc set. It comes with the expanded version of the original and a bonus disc with Spanish songs. It does NOT come with all of the videos. To obtain the videos recorded for each song, there is a DVD that you must buy separately from the CD set, which is exclusively available at Wal-Mart stores and on their website, or at least for the time being. (By the way, the DVD is definitely worth the purchase. The videos are amazing and very amusing.) Now that we've got that cleared up... let's move on to the new additions."Beautiful Liar," which was initially leaked on the Internet with only Beyoncé's vocals in November, is a little disappointing. It has a great theme and the song is alright, but the production is a little stale and uninspired to me. I also don't think Shakira's vocals mix well with Ms. Knowles'. Either way, it is pretty enjoyable and the dramatic, almost opera-like vocals from both women are nice. Can't say it fits the environment of the overall album, though.The next new track, "Welcome To Hollywood," is simply a version of Jay Z's "Hollywood" with only Beyoncé singing. Nothing more, nothing less. (Good thing she left him out, because he already appears on here twice.) I wasn't a big fan of the song in the first place and always found the production to fall flat, but this version is an improvement. I love her blasting vocals and she gives the song a more cohesive sound.Now "Flaws & All" is what I'm talking about! A common complaint towards the original B'Day was it barely had any ballads that made her debut such a hit. Here, B delivers a beautifully confessional song where she admits she has flaws and glitches. In the first few seconds of the song, she declares "I'm a train wreck in the morning / I'm a b---h in the afternoon." Wow! She has ups and downs, but her man (cough cough, Jay Z) loves her anyway, and that's why she loves him. It truly is beautiful and the melody is amazing. This is a welcome addition to the album, for me."Still In Love (Kissing You)" is another superb ballad, which was originally done by Desiree for the Rome + Juliet soundtrack. Beyoncé inserts some of her own lyrics to make the song more personal and she definitely does the song justice. It took a few listens to get used to because the production is very minimal, but it is a beautiful track nonetheless. In the last few seconds of the song, she proclaims that she loves her man "more than music." And we know how much she loves music. It's very touching and romantic.The last new addition to the first disc is a hidden track that comes after "Listen." It is titled "World Wide Woman," which leaked on the Internet earlier this year. It has a very laid-back, spring/summer feel to it and I personally love it. It doesn't necessarily fit with the rest of B'Day, but I suppose that's why it's hidden. I'm glad it was included, though.It was originally intended that Beyoncé would release a Spanish album, but that apparently fell apart. To not put the tracks to waste, some of them were put on the bonus disc, which is pretty much here just for added value. It includes the "Spanglish" version of "Beautiful Liar," which was actually the original version before Shakira stepped in. It features Sasha, Beyoncé's alter-ego, on the Spanish lines. I personally prefer this version to the original. The "remix" is not much different from the original, kind of useless. Same background music and everything. The version of "Beautiful Liar" completely in Spanish, "Bello Embustero," is also included. "Irreemplazable," the Spanish version of the ten-week number one hit "Irreplaceable" is very nice. The beautiful tone of her voice is preserved even when she is singing in Spanish and it sounds quite authentic. The same applies to "Listen (Oye)." I was rather impressed. "Amor Gitano" is enjoyable. But the real treat is the Nortena Remix of "Irreemplazable." It has accordions in it! Quite a refreshing combination!So, back to the essential question: does it live up to the original? Was it worth it? As a fan, I was ecstatic for some new material. But for the casual music listener... it may not be necessary. "Still In Love (Kissing You)," "Flaws & All" and "Worldwide Woman" were welcome additions, but I would've preferred to have tracks such as "Creole," "Lost Yo Mind" or numerous others to replace "Beautiful Liar" and "Welcome To Hollywood." (I wish she would release an album of all the songs not released and call it B'Sides... eh?) Also, the addition of the new songs sacrifices the cohesive environment which existed in the original. The bonus disc feels out place. It is really not essential and it would've been much better if the DVD were included, even if it did raise the price tag a bit.Bottom line: Overall, it's still great, but it doesn't live up to the original for me because now there is some filler that pollutes this album. If you are a fan, this is excellent. If you are more of a casual listener and you have already purchased B'Day, I would listen to samples (which are readily available all over) and see if you think it's worth it. You probably won't find it absolutely necessary, even though the price is right, kids!
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