Surprising, because at first listen the song is sadly pedestrian: the beat has some retro aspirations, but ends up falling behind strange string and guitar arrangements; there's a tacky cross-promotional shout-out to her clothing line; the lioness-like growling has no place on a stylish club track.
And then what is this confusing "it" in the chorus? Is it her ring finger? Or the same "it" from her song Check On It (um...her booty)? Either way, the song seems undeserving of such high praise, especially in a year when her little sister Solange put out much better singles.
But then there's the video, a bona fide sensation.
If there was a song of the year for YouTube interest, this is probably it. And if there ever was a case for populist opinion overruling music criticism, this would also be it. While Beyonce hasn't made a critical masterpiece (or even her best song), she's motivated an insane amount of inspired imitations, and in turn lured critics to her side. At least it appears that way.
Like the song, the video is not without it's cringe-worthy oddities, ending with that inexplicable robotic glove. But, overall, it is irresistible. So, for anyone who questions the place for music videos in 2008:
And perhaps the inspiration for it all: