The Underwhelming Performance Of Beyonce’s ‘4’


    Following the successes of her last three albums, Beyonce’s ‘4’ LP was expected to be yet another multi-platinum hit for the entertainer. However, although it has been ranked as the seventh best-selling release of 2011 to date in the US, the sales of the record have been dismal compared to its predecessors.

    The platinum-certified ‘4’ has sold 941K copies in the US since being released in June 2011 and is currently ranked as the 7th highest-selling album of 2011 as well as the top-selling R&B album of the year. Yet, the sales of the record represent a stark decline from the 2.99 million copies of Beyonce’s ‘I Am…Sasha Fierce’ that have been sold in that territory since 2008.

    In fact, even the sales of both those albums are compared during similar time spans, ‘Sasha Fierce’ vastly outperformed ‘4’ in every regard as it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 482K copies sold in its first week compared to the latter’s 310K. Furthermore, ‘Sasha Fierce’ quickly surpassed 1.46 million units in sales after its first six weeks of availability – a total that ‘4’ has yet to match after more than five months.

    So why exactly did ‘4’ fail to attract the hoards of buyers that helped her to become Billboard’s 4th most successful artist of the 2000-2009 decade? Well, there are two main reasons: direction and promotion.

    Beyonce had built her career by servicing her fans with an ample supply of radio-ready singles and dance floor jingles yet rarely provided them with any thought-provoking content that depicted artistic depth. On the other hand, the direction of ‘4’ represented a general departure from her formula and it confused her fanbase.

    Tracks such as ‘I Was Here’ and ‘Rather Die Young’ were clearly targeting the Adult Contemporary market instead of the 18-30 age bracket of persons who were eager for receive another repetitious anthem similar to ‘Single Ladies’ so that they coud flock to YouTube to show the world how quickly they could learn the accompanying routine. Still, Beyonce clearly attempted to satisfy that dominant segment of her fanbase with the lead single from ‘4’, ‘Run the World (Girls)’, but instead of appeasing all of her supporters, she simply deterred the Adult Contemporary buyers who woud have otherwise purchased the album if that song was not included.

    Therefore, Beyonce alienated her formerly loyal fans by crafting a sound to which they were not accustomed and instead of replacing those persons with Adult Contemporary buyers – who helped to make Adele’s ’21’ the top-selling album of 2011 in the US with 4.67 million copies sold – she dampened their interest with ‘Run the World’. Conversely, some people might wonder why ‘Run the World’ wasn’t at least a hit Beyonce’s regular fanbase. Overlooking the  fact that the song entailed an grossly hackneyed sample, we are leads to our second point – promotion.

    Rather than swiftly returning to the US to promote ‘Run the World’ after the tune leaked ahead of schedule, Beyonce remained in France to continue celebrating her wedding anniversary. Moreover, by the time the song was finally serviced to radio, various versions of the track were already circulating on the internet. In fact, even Ryan Seacrest, who had scored the rights to debut the record on his radio show, premiered the wrong version of the song.

    However, the mismanagement did not end with that fiasco. None of the seven music videos from ‘4’ were released on schedule and Beyonce’s team regularly used the excuse that she was still “editing” the clips. As a visual artist who relies on a string of videos to help market her material, those delays simply deterred consumer confidence in Beyonce’s cause, especially when there were several other viable acts – Rihanna and Lady Gaga – who were readily providing alternatives to her fickle supporters. Of course, the multiple plagiarism claims that plagued Beyonce’s campaign when those videos finally premiered also did not help to boost her fans morale.

    Therefore, by confusing her fans and failing to attract a new audience to replace those who had abandoned her, Beyonce’s ‘4’ resulted in relatively commercial disappointment. Yes, the sales of the album were impressive when compared to those of her peers but by Beyonce’s standards, they were lukewarm at best.

    On the bright side, at least she scored a Grammy Award nomination for the project. After all, one is better than none.


    • T

      This might be the least funniest gif you have ever used but the article was still informative. I see 4 selling 1.5 million in the united states by the end of next year.

    • Mathew may have been stealing her money but he knew what the hell he was doing. Sorry to say but Beyonce doesn’t know how to manage her own career!

    • T

      Im a big fan too. I think if Run the World didn’t leak and was initially planned out how (Jason…….the ex editor of BeyonceWorld) she wanted to launch it then it would have been a massive hit. I hope her team and herself has learned from this era for the next album which may be her most important since it will be post baby

    • bobby

      very good article…i think she flopped (only by her standard) chris brown and britney’s albums this year still havent sold up to 4…but i think the public now kinda has an idea that she is an all rounder in all forms…im sure she’ll come back better with stronger promo

    • Naomi

      I’m not sure exactly what BeyonceWorld knew of the project, but ‘Run The World (Girls)’ was certainly not the first single and its leaked ruined a lot of surprises. You live and you learn, though.

    • Just Stating

      Beyonce should’ve released End of Time as the first single to serve her core pop fanbase.. “Love on Top” as second single for the Adult Contemporary Market. Then Party as an urban single. And then Schoolin Life as her fourth single. Then I Was Here could’ve been the single to close the era.

      But all in all this article was pointless. Your just looking for another reaction from the stans.

    • KendallJamaal

      While I agree with THIS article, I cannot agree with the Grammy Academy. One song does not make an album weak. ‘4’ is such a mature direction and I think the success of artists is often gaged by growth and if 4 does not show growth of an artist, I don’t know what qualifies to do so. ‘I Miss You and I Care are are excellent songs that show writing depth as well as vocal, I understand the confusion from her fan base & poor promotion, but the Academy? No excuse. They shouldn’t even be looking at Billboard when it comes to nominations.

    • MuzikJunkie!

      There was a lot of problems with this project. From her management, to the album leaking a whole month before its release date, and plus the promotion just wasn’t there either. I don’t care what people say about Matthew, but this project would have done better if he was still her manager. The music was great (minus Run The World), and it should at least have sold 1.5 million thus far!

    • Chris


    • Katiexx

      With this ERA and how it has turned out, Beyoncé will go pop to pop on her next album, she will release the most commercial album, like Sasha Fierce, In a way her next album will be hailed a comeback if she releases a Radio friendly single, something like boy or Sweet Dreams.

    • agreed
      but she will defiantly come back very strong with album 5 in my opinion. u still cannot call 4 a flop though. by the end of next year it will do close to 2 million in the US, 5.5 million WW. which is excellent in this day and time. would make one of the most successful R&b releases in a long time.

    • @Naomi what u mean was not the 1st single?

    • The Truth

      Great article Trent! Despite fans of other artists saying “4” is a flop it is only a flop by Beyonce standards. It is still maintaining sales and she is maturing as an artist.

    • Shea Butter

      I think this a great write up of ‘4’, I agree the handling and mismanagement of the album release greatly effected sales. but I also believe several times over “GRTW” was a awful lead single, it is probably the one track I would pull from the album!

      But I will say vocally ‘4’ was a great album, I feel this album showed her vocal growth by leaps and bounds! I was not a big fan of Beyonces vocals before ‘4’, I feel that this album forced her to use her range, stamina and just basically be at her vocal peak.

      (Sorry for the double post)

    • Jonny

      i agree with @juststating…Trent clearly wrote this for a reaction from her stans..and of course..hits.

      This article was basically what everyone who follows Beyonce knows. She didn’t promote the album. She’s pregnant, and she was in the middle of switching management. By BEYONCE standards, the album did bad. But compared to other artist…she’s fine.

      the article was completely pointless. You should write an article about why Mariah Carey can’t sell out a 3k venue. And why her last album did so terrible. I’d like to see a Lamb’s POV on that.

    • NI

      @bobby u can’t compare Chris brown is sales to Beyonce because she did have a scandal working against her. I am not a fan but I really like the album did not like the first single. But this trial and error I guarantee she will get right.

    • MISHKA

      I’m just happy Beyonce sticked to what she wanted to do and is not jumping the trend just to be #1 or “hot” again. “4” underperformed but Beyonce’s legacy as a dedicated performer is not suffering from it.
      Up to this point, she has the choice between taking Usher’s road (chasing popcorn hits instead of real music – child support is a b*tch) or taking Celine Dion’s road (stick to the beautiful ballads you’re known for).
      I’m part of the generation who grew up with Beyonce, and I must say she did her thing. It’s okay to leave the floor to younger entertainers. She should go for other ventures (producing movies, broadway, charities) and come back to music only for the love of music.

    • Bradley

      I blame the singles choices. If “End of Time” and “Love On Top” were the first and second singles, I reckon things would turn out great for this era! Even though I like “Run the World (Girls)”, it didn’t represent the album’s sound. But I’m glad the 4 sales are close to 1 million now, even though it’s her slowest selling album to date. I can’t wait for her next album! She is coming back with a more commercial pop album that will earn her more than just 2 Grammy noms and hopefully #1 hit singles!

    • i agree with @juststating…Trent clearly wrote this for a reaction from her stans..and of course..hits.

      This article was basically what everyone who follows Beyonce knows. She didn’t promote the album. She’s pregnant, and she was in the middle of switching management. By BEYONCE standards, the album did bad. But compared to other artist…she’s fine.

      the article was completely pointless. You should write an article about why Mariah Carey can’t sell out a 3k venue. And why her last album did so terrible. I’d like to see a Lamb’s POV on that.

    • Really?

      Trent wrote the article because he was asked not to cause trouble. But I don’t see the point in the person asking him, I felt it was a pointless article. No offense to Trent, just felt this was a waste.

    • Shea Butter

      Realistically in addition to the fact Beyonce was not chasing popcorn hits as someone stated, it was also time for Beyonce to “grow up her sound” which I think is apparent by the presence of a very adult contemporary sound which Trent pointed out.

      I mean…. think about it, how long could Beyonce get away with a “Singles Ladies”, “Baby Boy” “Crazy In Love” sound. Chart toppers they may be, but Beyonce is approaching a very big transitional period due to her age and her time in the game. (whether she want to be part of the that transition or not)

    • it was a pointless article. not very professional (no offense Trent)


      I honestly think the core Bey fans weren’t feeling the album how they portrayed they did. 4 is Beyonce’s best album since DIL as far as lyrics and content.

    • Americanboi

      I think i missed the point of this article. This isn’t anything we didn’t already know. She didn’t promot it. So she didn’t sell. She’s pregnant. Like…another chance to throw shade i guess.

      People saying that Beyonce needed to grow as an artist..i don’t agree. Even though i think “4” is her best work, i think she could have supplied an even balance of ballads and pop/dance music like she did with DIL. I mean Britney Spears is the same age as Beyonce with 2 children and she hasn’t changed her sound or ANYTHING (aside from the fact that she can’t dance anymore). Same with JLO and Madonna. But i guess because people know Beyonce can actually sing and give good R&B music as apposed to just “Pop” they wanna say “she needs to grow”. Like girl shut up. She’s 30. Not 50.

    • SparkD

      Everything you said was true. And even though she had a few misses in promotion, her publicity campaign outdid everybody except for Gaga. No excuse. Too many blips.

    • shammyoko

      So when are we going to get an article on the underwhe,ing performance of Mariah’s last album. I’m not a Bey stan by any means but if you plan on stretching your career after this “blog” fad dies out I suggest you put down your stan card and get out your feelings when reporting on artist you don’t particularly care for. You’re like the male Sandra Rose all you do is provoke stan wars and keep up drama and IMO you could be so much more than that.

      Anyways I think this album was strictly for her fans. I think she planned her pregnancy and new she would be taking time off but didn’t want to do so without dropping another album since it had been yrs between Sasha & 4.

    • TJ

      I like this Article. I think RTW totally messed this album up. but i do like how she didn’t run to release End of time because it would over shadowed the album like single ladies did IASF. she letting the album speak for it’s self even though people will have fun with the word flop her album is still selling ww its selling slow of course but it’s still selling. and im pretty sure a live televised performance at the Grammys or the Billboard awards wont hurt her sales. but one thing she said before she released the album was she will learn from her mistakes and she made plenty on this album and doing over 2 million ww on a not so commercial album in six months(december 28th sixth month) isn’t bad. to have you worst sales of your career and still be in the top ten albums of the year cant complain. Prety sure she will balance her next album. the songs she thought people wouldn’t like love on top and i miss you but they are the fan base favorite.

    • u mean of Mariahs 2 underwhelming latest albums.
      and why do peeps act like bey is so old? 30 is not old at all. its not 2 old 4 her to be making songs like singles ladies, contdown or CIL.

    • Micky

      Somebody Plz Tell Why Mariah Carey In This Article It Seems Like People Got Hurt Feelings…

    • Full Edges

      I remember the whole Run The World fiasco. From that very moment, Everyone knew something was up, something wasn’t right in the camp and sure enough.

    • shane

      if mariah,britney,rihanna can have an album in the 1 million zone why cant beyonce leave her alone and im sure while shes on break she can make more then your fave just saying

    • Teri

      Beyonce will be fine. The promo this era was not the best, but I think, or I hope she’s learned from the mistake this era, because they were many. Also, her being pregnant prevented her from doing the type of promo that ‘4’ needed to sell like her previous albums. If she was able to promote like she really wanted to no telling how much this album would have sold. Gaga, and Adele was everywhere promoting, and it paid off. The right promo is so important to the success of an album.

    • bailey

      Beyonce does not need Mathew. W/ this album and being pregnant, unbeknownst to us at the time, she was more focused on getting eveything set for her first born. Granted she could have done more promo, but she doesn’t need him. And she especially doesn’t need someone in her camp who’s gonna steal from her. All the blame for its chart positions can’t be placed on just her. It was up to us the fans to promote the album, buy it, etc. We didnt do enough for her best album by far, in my opinion. This album was about the fans. She loves it, I love it, and the fans love it. Screw what everybody else has to say about it.

    • Shea Butter

      @Americanboi – You bring up Brittney, J.Lo and Madonna. All of which are over 30. But at the same time two of the three artist suffered greatly from not growing their sound (amongst many other factors).

      Brittney came in with a underwhelming 720,000 units and J. Lo suffered a huge hit by only moving 245,000 units. Although 30 is not 50 I think the fact that changing with your audience is clearly necessary. Madonna on the other hand is a different beast, Madonna was able to carry her audience with her through her transitions which is an extremely difficult task to accomplish, but which may be explained by the fact that Madonna has a more cult fan base in a sense(no shade to Madonna fans). As well as Madonna’s rise was when ‘age’ wasn’t such a large factor, many of the artist who rose to prominence during Madonna’s era were already several years older then today’s current stars.

    • she does not need Mathew bc for most of the IASF era he had stepped back. She really was managing herself then. She should come with a new album in 2013.

    • Thomas

      It’s simple, everybody but her glue sniffing stans is sick of that overated monkey wit a wig on

    • King

      Bad Promo but more importantly “run the world”. that single poisoned peoples perception of the album and her decision to release best thing i never had straight after it, made the album appear more like a collection of singles as opposed to a cohesive piece of art.

      Lead single should have been End of time early april, followed by schoolin life and 1+1 as a promo in at the beginning of june.

      Also i think “I care” and possibly “i was here” are being slept on. I think especially in the UK, these songs would absolutely slay.

    • Reign

      Jay-z is to blame. He is giving all the good songs to Rihanna and Bey gets the scraps.

    • Keesh

      real question: why do you analyze beyonce sales, image, dancing, breathing so much. you had valid points but at the end of the day it always seems like you want to dull beyonce’s shine.

    • explicit_music

      4 is her most critically acclaimed album to date, and that is what she was aiming for…she can sell albums as evident by her previous album, but she got the growth, maturity, and acclaim with this album

    • explicit_music

      and I agree that Trent ALWAYS seems to analyze Beyonce more then any other star…can we get a post on how Femme Fatale and FAME both barely cracked 700k…can we get a post on Rihanna being 5 albums in the game and can barely sell over 200k in the 1st week

    • Aye Britt

      Some of u Bey stand are annoying. “All those who follow Beyonce know this so Trent didn’t have 2 write this…he only wrote it for hits”

      A. I don’t follow Beyonce so it was great to see why her project, as good as it was, failed.

      B. TRENT doesn’t write articles for people who already know things about their favorite artist. Its all about informing tje people who may not know and bringing in a new crowd who wanwants more than what MTO and that grape blog gives them. In other words TRENT DOESNT WRITE TO PLEASE OR APPEASE STANS.

      C. Trent writes stuff to get hits……WELL DUUUUUH, don’t all blobloggers write shit to boost their traffic and get payed? I mean why not. The difference is you have gossip blogs who fabricate stories and mislead they’re readers for hits and focus on a specific stan group or artist (shows hate or love). Then u have other bloggers who blog facts and tries to inform/educate their readers and don’t focus on a specific artist and their stans.

      Get over yourselves. Everything isn’t about your fav.

      Anyways, GREAT article Trent!!!!

    • Aye Britt

      And for those who said Run the World would’ve been a hit if it didnt leak….i disagree!!

      Run the world is a horrible song and seems out of place on the whole album. The video helped it a little….but even the video not up to the normal Beyonce standards…the choreography was horrid.

      The rest of her album was amazing!! Even with the extremely morbid ‘I was here’

    • therightstuff

      Trent’s article is truth but he stepped over the elephant in the room, run the world was crap! Even urban stations didn’t want any part of it. She released a bad single and that set the tone for the cd. Beyonce had tons of promo so let that ship die. She performed on Oprah’s last show and Billboard awards where she was giving a special award and 2xs on Idol. Most stars would kill for that type of exposure.

      Nevermind the numerous magazine covers, and the view, fallon, gma and the like. she had tons ofprom but people weren’t buying and run the world turned of the ac buyer sjus tlike trent said and best thing i never had was a poorman’s irreplaceable that didn’t incite interest.
      she’s overexpose and needs to really take a seat, go away and come back with inspired music not this crap she’s been doling out and really be original. Enough of swagger jacking and claiming to be inspired when caught. Those multiple allegations were also a big turnoff for many.

      why ppl want compare her to britney spears. Britney has sold more her first cd that beyonce’s entire solo career. Britney doesn’t even try. She rarely promotes. She puts out a cd to tour where she makes her money and her singles still did better than beyonce.

      Chris brown is coming from being blacklisted so he did great! no comparison here. ‘4’ is a flop for beyonce. it’s good for a regular r&b artist but not for her usual numbers.

    • DARBé

      Now I wanna know, when will see the “Hot Topic: The Underwhelming Performance Of Rihanna’s ’Talk That Talk/Every Other Allbum′ Article. 🙂

    • gdboyratedloud

      maybe ppl r still questioning why it flopped plus its his site geez lol

    • dreofficial

      At the end of the day 4 is an amazing album with great songs. Stans and haters alike put soo much energy into the sales of these people albums as if you all are cashing the royalty checks. Even if Beyonce sold 150,000 copies in 6 months, shes still Beyonce; shes made her mark. Ever heard the phrase ” She has nothing to prove” ? Not only did she attempt to take the reigns of her own career, but she did it with the most risky album of her career. I Commend her for that. Enjoy the damn music and shut the hell up.

    • Belloftheball

      Any adult who dredges over the album sales of an artist for bragging rights or some weird sense of “personal” accomplishment needs to grow up. Im making not one red cent from the sales of any of your albums so I could care less if it sold 9876749087987 albums worldwide. I just know when I put “4” in my Beats by Dre, there is musical magic. The same cant be said for 95% of other artists who shove recycled albums down our throats. Thanks for the great music Beyonce!

    • Run the World was it.

      I loved that video and the choreography though. I feel like that’s one of her most cinematic. Musically though, recycling a beat and making it into a first single is never the best choice (Nicole Scherzinger – “Whatever You Like”).

      But 4’s promotion was the most interesting that I’ve seen. This is the first time that I’ve seen a mainstream artist promote an album without promoting individual singles. Every song on the album minus the first single was equal it seemed. Whenever she performed something to promote the CD, it was always a different song, and not usually a single (VMAs).

      I commend her for promoting the album as a bound piece of work, instead of a loose collection of singles. Good job.

    • GUESS

      Beyonce has had no musical growth period. People get hype because she can sing but shit there are women in church choirs who can sing so that does not impress me. 4 is just as basic as I AM STACY LANE or whatever the last one was called. I think this era has colorful music videos tho…

    • Donald

      Look folks, Naysayers have been talking about 4’s “lack of sales” every since it was certified PLATINUM back in August.. They griped about how it hadn’t really sold a million copies and all that other non-sense….. Well, NOW “4” has in fact sold 1 million copies in the U.S. and is STILL SELLING which is good in this day and age.. SO GIVE BEYONCE HER CREDIT !!!!!!!

    • Donald

      And as far as Beyonce’s “MUSICAL GROWTH” as some of U put it…. The messages in her music is timeless… never gets old.. She talks about LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS, HEARTACHE, BREAK UPS, SELF ESTEEM and SELF RELIANCE… That was how she came out and it has worked well because like I said it is a TIMELESS message…..

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    • Beyoncè’s promotional campaign ended back in August when she performed on the VMAs. Yet, her lucky number contained it’s staying power due to pre-filmed music videos and performances. I hate to say this but, Rihanna’s Loud was more cohesive than Beyoncè’s 4, even though Rihanna is a lesser recording artist. Where 4 faltered in singles, it ushered in album sales and digital downloads; where Loud faltered in album sales, it ushered in airplay via singles.

      People need to realize that Beyoncè hasn’t had a top 10 hit since the release of the album. I love Beyoncè just like the rest of y’all but, 4 ain’t what critics caked it up to be. Beyoncè could be pissing on all of y’all and y’all would swear that it was rain from the heavens sent to replenish the earth. Urban radio panned that album as her weakest. Only stans praised Beyoncè for releasing such “mature” content. There’s nothing mature about rocking on ya baby, putting love on top, counting down, or partying. In terms of lyricism, the I Am…is way much more romantic and y’all bitches hated that side of her. She done “killed off” Sasha so now on 4 is was just a mess.