Single Review: Ne-Yo – ‘Beautiful Monster’

Having completed my English GCSE a little under two months ago, I can still clearly remember one of the most important things you had to include in the Original Writing part of the English coursework: plenty of ‘language techniques’. These came in the form of connectives, imperatives, metaphors, similes, and oxymorons. But you couldn’t just throw these ‘techniques’ in any which way and hope to get marks for knowing how to spell a tricky word or use a fancy phrase; you’d have to use the devices correctly, without making it too obvious, contrived or most importantly, clichéd. You had to justify your reason for putting them in your writing; you had to make it look like you knew how to use them, even if you didn’t; and you had to make sure they didn’t feel out of place or substitutory once reading the paragraph through, to ensure a flowing piece of writing. There was a lot to consider before putting ‘techniques’ in your writing, for risk of being docked marks for ill-use or clumsily applying them.

But that wasn’t the only thing to consider, as I mentioned before, this is a ‘technique’, and so requires some know-how when applying them; they need to be combined with plenty of other techniques and language devices correctly in order for the whole paragraph, essay, or body of writing to come across as successful and provide a meaningful punch, whilst accomplishing to task set before you. So whilst it’s good to show you have the knowledge of using a certain language device, piecing them together credibly is where the marks are.

So, I know it’s been a bit longer since Ne-Yo’s GSCE equivalent but he clearly knows what an oxymoron is (a phrase where one word contradicts the other e.g. ‘awfully good’), but can he justify it? Does he know how to piece together the other important devices needed in a set of lyrics to not come across obvious, contrived or clichéd? We’ll see.

Hmm… indeed we will, it seems Ne-Yo has remembered quite a bit, and the first lyrics shows it – “‘All my life/And the hereafter”. That’s got to be the best use of unusual lyric since Akon’s unforgivable “trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful” from ‘Sexy Bitch’, which was a feat in itself that he managed to fit it on one line.

Back to Ne-Yo now, the bassline trembles like a storm in the wilderness, with a stop-starty beat that thumps along to proceedings. Whilst I’m writing this review I’m listening to the song and I’m afraid to say I’ve just caught Ne-Yo doing his most unsuccessful attempt of trying-to-emulate-Michael- Jackson-whilst-hoping-no-one-catches-on act. I won’t try and describe, it’s too hard, but you’’ll notice it when you hear it. That aside, this, I feel is Ne-Yo’s first song to boast some originality, and some brains. The production is slicker than a the feathers on a swan’s back and thankfully, Ne-Yo’s resisted the auto-tune thus far.

Throughout all that, you suddenly realise the bassline is going up in pitch, like something BIG is about to happen; like a red signal in the distant signifying a storm coming. And BOY does it come, with everything silenced, Ne-Yo’s re-enters with “She’s a monstererer” and his penchant for never singing one note to a single syllable, but that only adds to the drama of the chorus. There’s a slight electronic bleep going on next to the beat which just doubled in volume and for once, I find myself actually enjoying a Ne-Yo song. Incredible.

One thing I’ll commend about Ne-Yo’s voice is it’s sudden ability to sound very anguished; when he sings in a higher range than normal he sounds like straining, which adds to the emotion his voice can convey, meaning whilst this song may come across as very superficial and a bit fantastical, there’s plenty of rawness going on in the vocal department.

And if you thought the song was fantastical, it’s video is one o’ them eye-peeler’s that’s gonna go for video of the year innit.

And I’m sorry but Ne-Yo can’t even pull off a drunk guy: no drunk guy ever has a nicely trimmed face and moisturised skin (it’s just too obvious he moisturises).

And yes! For years we’ve wanted it to happen and finally it does! Fans and casual listeners… Ne-Yo… finally… removes… his hat. For about three seconds. But for some reason he’s better-looking with it on. So I’m not complaining anymore.

Instead of going down the generic R&B route again, like he did for ‘Miss. Independent’ and ‘Mad’, Ne-Yo has come back with a song that actually tries to do something original. Being his evocative effort to date, with super-slick production and plenty of emotive vocals, he’s managed to make something very listenable to a wider demographic than just hardcore R&B fans.

But before we end, let’s have a game; those of you who have read my review of INNA’s ‘Amazing’ will know I love my games.

Okay so, the game is basically ‘Where’s Wally’, only it’s with Ne-Yo’s Adam’s apple.

Could you send a decent-sized cut-out outlining in red marker where his Adam’s apple has disappeared to because it seems to have been replaced with a debarked tree trunk.

Many thanks, OddOne.

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: August 2, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Libra Scale’

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