If we consider Beyonce’s two most recent albums as part of a new, experimental artistic phase, then I Am… Sasha Fierce represented an equally radical shift when it was released. 2008 was the year she and Jay-Z got married, and by that point she already had no less than four #1 hits under her belt. But according to her, the world never really got a glimpse of the real Beyonce, the one that’s besides the smoke screens and camera lights: “I’m a human being. I cry. I’m very passionate and sensitive. My feelings get hurt. I get scared and nervous like everyone else. And I wanted to show that about myself.”
Even if some of her previous hits touched on more personal themes, the distinction on I Am… Sasha Fierce is as clear as can be: the album’s first side (I Am) is made out of confessional R&B-flavored ballads, while the second (Sasha Fierce) consists entirely of up-beat club songs. This is why what has been described as a “sensual, aggressive alter-ego” is adopted for the latter.
No less than seven singles off the album charted; however, only Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) managed to climb all the way to the top. It is Sasha Fierce’s encouragement towards men to propose, however many noted that the marriage themes coincide with what was happening at the time in Beyonce’s personal life. The song’s black-and-white video that has been parodied and imitated countless times since then was inspired by an Ed Sullivan Show sketch with actress Gwen Verdon and two other dancers performing similar moves.
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) spent 4 non-consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, first being dethroned by T.I.’s Live Your Life (featuring Rihanna) and second by Lady Gaga’s Just Dance (featuring Colby O’Donis).