Beyoncé - 'Sweet Dreams'
What do Zac Efron and Beyoncé Knowles have in common? Well, other an array of totally inappropriate dance moves and Efron seeming to be a corporate robot and Knowles looking like one in her new vid, they have both felt the need to scream on their songs in recent times.
And trust me, Efron's embarrassingly half-hearted attempt, that makes him sound like he's just discovered a really good shampoo (see High School Musical 3 for details, or y'know, because it's good) is rather outdone by Beyoncé's banshee wail, which you could use to actually remove ears, should the need arise.
Indeed, what with the scream, the dark, horror-type music, the pumping heartbeat, the equally spooky lullaby, the screech of an electric guitar, oh and the fact that Ms Knowles herself starts to LEVITATE in the video (and a white dove is involved. Really), I have to be honest: for the first 30 seconds of her new video, I thought that I was watching some '80s magician, with a Knowles soundtrack and that it was all a big fat fake.
The song really does start like this.
(Here's the video. Two words: David Copperfield)
After the intro though, things (thankfully) move away from the Hallowe'en cheese and into familiar Beyoncé territory (right from the fact it's proper '80s pop through to the video essentially being 'Single Ladies' with Beyoncé and 2 dancers), but like all good spooky films, you never get too far from that underlying dark feel established in the beginning. And you know what? It really, really works.
As usual with the 'Yonce, it all stands or falls on her voice. In this case it's her ability to sound so beautiful and soft, yet strong and powerful, in order to convey the dilemma in the song - she's torn between whether her love is a "sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare", and she SOUNDS it (even if the video is slightly GCSE in its 'black=bad / white=good' interpretation).
My only real niggle is that I want more. MORE! After the spine-tingling, thrilling impact of the first chorus, the song becomes predictable and doesn't really go anywhere; the song sort of just trails out at the end and loses the initial excitement, which is a real shame. Plus that whole "turn the lights out!" thing becomes pretty cringe by the end.
So yes, the video is terrible, and yes, I want the song to do more. It doesn't change the fact that overall, this is actually very, very good. It may not be forever remembered and hailed as her finest, more memorable work, but for me it's one of the best things I've heard from her since 'Crazy In Love'. Really.
Plus that scream... Man, that's something to behold. Mr Efron, take note.
Download: Out now
CD Released: August 10th
BBC Music page
PS. I still love you Zac. Even if you cannot convey raw emotion.