I Am... Sasha Fierce is the third studio album by American recording artist Beyoncé. It was released on November 15, 2008, by Music World Entertainment and Columbia Records. In its initial release, the album was formatted as a dual disc, intending to market Beyoncé's contrasting facets of artistry. The first disc, I Am..., contains slow and midtempo pop and R&B ballads, while the second, Sasha Fierce (named after Beyoncé's on-stage alter ego), focuses on more uptempo beats that blend electropop and Europop genres. In composing the songs' lyrics, Beyoncé worked with many writers, with each session accompanied by live orchestration.
Beyoncé credited both her husband, rapper Jay-Z, and jazz singer Etta James for inspiring her to push the limits of her songwriting and artistry. Musically, I Am... drew inspiration from folk and alternative rock, while blending acoustic guitar elements into contemporary ballads. The tracks on the first disc were written and produced by Beyoncé, during collaborative efforts with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Ryan Tedder. Sasha Fierce boasted production from Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins and Sean "The Pen" Garrett. The album received generally lukewarm reviews from critics, many of whom felt that it does not properly differentiate the double-discs contrasts and goals.
I Am... Sasha Fierce debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 482,000 units, earning Beyoncé her third consecutive US number-one solo album. The album earned over thirty platinum and one diamond certifications in separate worldwide markets. I Am... Sasha Fierce had sold 8 million copies worldwide with 40 million songs sold. The album garnered seven Grammy Award nominations at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, winning five and eventually collecting a record setting six wins—the most awards won in one night by a female. To promote the album, Beyoncé made several award show and televised appearances across Europe and America and embarking on the worldwide I Am... World Tour (2009–10).
The album spawned several singles; some served as international and stateside releases, while others were purely for promotional purposes. The two lead singles from I Am... Sasha Fierce, "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", both charted highly internationally. The former topped the charts in over eight countries and reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, with the latter becoming her fifth number one single on the Hot 100 chart. "Diva" and "Ego" were released as US-only singles, while "Halo" and "Sweet Dreams" were promoted internationally as the third and fourth singles respectively. "Broken-Hearted Girl" was released internationally as the fifth single, while "Video Phone" was released in November 2009 and "Why Don't You Love Me" was released in July 2010.
In a world ruled by downloads perhaps the flow of tracklistings, once pored over for hours by record labels, isn't that important any more. It's certainly not to Beyonce who, on this, her third solo album, has spread 11 songs over two discs in order to create a 'concept'. Double albums usually make us pull an ugly face (Back To Basics, anyone?) but we guess at least this has a point, almost.
Let's explain. For this album Beyonce has split her personality into two. Disc 1, labelled 'I Am', reveals the 'real' Beyonce behind the makeup, baring her soul with insecurities about love. The simple, If I Were A Boy, is ably joined by the very strange, but wonderful Ave Maria and Ryan Tedder's Bleeding Love-lite, Halo. Unfortunately when faced with six ballads in a row, you might find yourself dropping off into a deep slumber, no matter how good they are.
You'll wake up sharpish though when it's time for disc 2, as Beyonce is gone, replaced by the hilariously monikered Sasha Fierce. Sasha is B's on-stage personality and the hair flicking, stiletto strutting beats of Diva with it's dictionary defining ''diva is the female version of a hustler'' prove it. Yet though the electro pounding of Sweet Dreams or the wild Radio might be standouts here, there's nothing that announces Beyonce's experimental side like the raging Ring The Alarm from B'Day
An attempt no doubt for credibility and importance, I Am ... Sasha Fierce ultimately falls short of this goal. In a world where Rihanna seems to have released hit after hit, Beyonce, although the superior on-stage performer, needs to come back with something stronger than this if she wants to steal her sparkly crown back off the young pretender.