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Snap Judgment: Ne-Yo's "Beautiful Monster"

May 25, 2010 |  4:21 pm

So, have you heard the new rave-inspired pop single about the allure of monsters?

Yeah, so Ne-Yo's new single, "Beautiful Monster," has some topical and sonic precedent on the charts. But that shouldn't inherently detract from any new occasion for the suavest guy in pop to uncork another single, especially a first hint at the forthcoming album, "Libra Scale."

"Monster" is yet another exhibit in the evidence bin that the radio is moving on from '80s nostalgia and into the electronica of the '90s -- the big filter sweeps, house beats and decimated snare builds are from his favored producer Stargate. Ne-Yo's searching inflection could make frequent Daft Punk vocalist Romanthony bolt out of bed with envy, and that wide-open bridge breakdown is as hands-in-the-air as anything you'll hear on a Koh Phangan full moon party.

It's not Ne-Yo's most evocative effort, though -- there's something a touch cumbersome when he wrings out the word "monster" over and over in a song so nimble. It's about craving a difficult woman, but Ne-Yo is better at writing dark edges into songs than performing them himself; he's just too put-together to truly do the freakily possessed lover act. But no male pop singer short of T-Pain can stack harmonies better right now, and when he peels off those runs of "I don't mind" after the choruses, the tune takes a sharp, short turn for the spookily anthemic, and clubland audiences will surely reciprocate the feeling. 

Ne-Yo may imply that he wants your ugly and wants your disease here. But it's hard to imagine a more bespoke way for him to say it.

-- August Brown

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