Beyonce | United Center | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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When: Wed., July 17, 8 p.m. and Fri., Dec. 13, 8 p.m. 2013
Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter has never been shy about her ambitions for crossover success, and to those ends she doesn’t hesitate to make straight-down-the-center soft pop like “Halo” and “Irreplaceable.” But she’s always had an edgier, more challenging side, which is sometimes easy to overlook amid all the massive hooks she deploys—listen past the vocals (if you can) and “Single Ladies” sounds like crazy dissonant electro-goth. Ever since her husband and his buddy Kanye started reaping a tidal wave of attention for their wild experimental leaps, she’s been waving her freak flag with a little more fervor. In March she released, with zero warning, the wild diptych “Bow Down/I Been On,” which pays tribute to Bey’s Houston roots by screwing her vocals down an octave to a weirdly masculine pitch (a remix goes further by enlisting H-Town rap legends Bun B, Scarface, and Slim Thug). It also gives her a booming platform to demand acknowledgment for her accomplishments as a performer and as a multinational corporation unto herself—another thing that female pop musicians rarely do. —Miles Raymer

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