Beyonce's latest album "4" was released Tuesday to generally good notices. However, as the reviewer in Rolling Stone observed, "'4' might be her strangest record. It’s a big-budget megapop album with an A list of guest stars (Kanye West, André 3000) and songwriter-producers (Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, Diplo, Ryan Tedder, Diane Warren). Yet it’s as eccentric, as unmistakably personal and quirky as anything that Sufjan Stevens ever cooked up in his bedroom." And, as USA Today noted, "Compared with Beyonce’s three previous albums, which arrived on a wave of hit singles, the release of '4' seems relatively quiet. Neither lead single 'Run the World (Girls)' nor 'Best Thing I Never Had' has caught fire on the charts."
As a solo artist, Beyonce Knowles has managed to stay relevant without being overexposed. Over the years, she has taken home 16 Grammys. But earlier this year the recording academy restructured the Grammys, dropping and merging several categories. The R&B Field went from eight categories to four, with men, women and groups now all competing for Best R&B Performance. And the award for Best Contemporary R&B Album -- which Beyonce won for each of her first three solo albums -- was eliminated.
Instead, "4" will have to contend for Best R&B Album which will pit Beyonce against a wide range of artists, from Chris Brown and Cee Lo Green to Jennifer Hudson and recent chart-topper Jill Scott. Her winning combination of name recognition and strong sales make Beyonce one of the frontrunners. And she could be poised to represent R&B in the General Field which is likely to be dominated by women, including Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Taylor Swift.
The only General Field race Beyonce has won is Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" in 2009. She has contended four times for Record of the Year: "Say My Name" (2000), "Crazy In Love (2003), "Irreplaceable" (2007) and "Halo" (2009). And she has been nominated once for Album of the Year: "I Am...Sasha Fierce" (2009).
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