Beyoncé

20 Mar

Beyoncé.

No other name in popular culture stirs more emotions in me than Beyoncé. Like Madonna and Shakira, she goes by one name and EVERYBODY knows exactly who she is. Beyonce started out as a 17 year old teenager with the group Destiny’s Child. I know their hit song “Bills, Bills, Bills” off the top of my head. I’m not sure what it was about the song that attracted me, but I sure liked this incredibly pop/RB song with an attitude. The ladies in the song are turning on the lazy guy and saying that they deserve better. Edgy without being too edgy. It was similar to TLC’s “No Scrubs” . Maybe it was the changing tempos, quick raps, harmonizing voices, and catchy beats that drew me. Once my cousin, Mari, let me listen to the CD from top to bottom and I fell in love with Destiny’s Child especially with their harmonizing melodic voices. For years, Destiny’s Child was the “it” girl band in an era of fake boy bands and incredibly bubble gum disposable pop.They had songs like “Independent Woman,” “Survivor” and such. I knew Beyonce hit it big when she came out in Austin Power’s “Goldmember.” Then rumors surfaced on Mike Meyer’s awe of Beyonce’s beauty during the filming of the movie. Her acting wasn’t too bad and her smile kept her role alive.

Destiny’s Child- Bills, Bills Bill and Say My Name

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiF6-0UTqtc  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmc8bQoL-J0

 

Gosh I regret not seeing Destiny’s Child live in concert.

 

 

When Beyonce finally solo’ed and released “Crazy in Love” everyone knew she had gone from big to HUGE. “Dreamgirls”, “Cadillac Records”, put Beyonce’s name in the film industry and of course the classic “Single Ladies” catapulted her to fame. Beyonce officially targeted the little ones with her song “Move Your Body” campaigned by Michelle Obama to encourage kids to exercise more. Once you got the little ones, you’re set for epic stardom.

 

Beyonce Move Your Body

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYP4MgxDV2U

 

I actually learned this routine for the teacher portion of the school talent show.

 

 

What always drew everyone else to Beyonce was her pop feminist side. She is beautiful, an amazing singer, amazing dancer, proud of her booty, and voices her feminist point of views in her music and actions. Up until around 2011 or so, Beyonce was every woman’s role model.  Songs like “Single Ladies”, “If I Were a Boy”  “Run the World (Girls)” gave everyone a reason to look up, admire and sing Beyonce’s tunes in a proud way.  OH and don’t forget she was one of Obama’s biggest and most vocal supporters. AND AND AND!!!! she has an all female band for all her tours and live performance. Flippin’ awesome!

 

Single Ladies live with the all female band

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcFvt1sLpis

 

 

However, I realized around the Super Bowl 2013 performance that there was a growing crowd of dissent towards Beyonce. Why did so many people dislike her? Jealousy? Her booty? Her fame that may have something to do with her ultra popular husband Jay-Z? Then I realized people disliked her because she tries to be femenist at the expense of her fame. She isn’t really a feminist, but just pretends to be one to sell CDs. Shes not really friendly and nice, but pretends to do so to please her fans. She (like Shakira and others) is provocative to sell. Hmmm interesting, but I still didn’t believe it.

 

 

In 2014, I had a student who became obssessed with Beyonce. She claimed to know every single song in Beyonce’s history, seen every video and know every lyric. Plus she knows several little known facts that only true Beyonce fans would know. OK…. She begged me to listen to Beyonce’s new self titled CD so that we can talk about it. Sure, why not? Especially since I wanted to buy it anyway. I figured, this 7th grader is a fanatic of an artist that has a positive message and can be a positive role model. Why not?

 

Then I saw the AMA’s. OMG. Beyonce was the opening act and she was wearing a bathing suit with a thong-ish cut making highly provocative gestures. Why would Beyonce put on a performance like that knowing that a lot of kids and people look up to her especially as the opening act? When you market at children and a young audience, it comes with a responsibility especially since her role model image was recent. This almost reminded me of Rihanna and her almost always sexualized image.

 

Beyonce’s AMA performance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKNKt-7GBkQ

 

Then I bought the CD. Ayyyy! Face slap. What happened? Musically speaking this CD is phenomenal. I was hooked immediately on her musical approach. I think she has a great production team that has come up with a different R&B CD. Its catchy, Beyonce’s vocals are flawless and its done with a minimalist approach. Lyrically speaking… well that is the big issue here. Her lyrics are very sexually provocative and some songs are definitely attempts to generate ratings. In the song, “XO” she uses the audio of the Challenger disaster crew right before the space shuttle crashed. Why would she seriously do that? I’m not digging her “it was a tribute to the astronauts” BS. Then “Drunk in Love,” “Partitiion” and “Jealous” are about drinking and being overly committed to the “man” in her relationship.  “Partition” is about a blow job and “I just want to be the girl you like” by giving blow jobs. Far from the feminist side of Beyonce. Jay-Z’s rap in “Drunk in Love” also mentions Ike and Tina Turner- a reference and cheap shot at  their abusive relationship.

 

Beyonce’s Partition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ12_E5R3qc

 

“Rocket” is just so out there that its hilarious. The first line is “Let me sit this ass on you” follows by Zapp and Roger-ish slow baby making music. You can guess what the Rocket refers to. Then “Blow” refers to “keep me moaning till the morning” “Hit the skittles its the sweetest in the morning” plus “turn the cherry out” ???

 

The song I have the most issues with is “Flawless” because it uses audio from Chimanda Ngozi’s TED video on youtube. Beyonce is trying to make a song about female empowerment, but comes off way more conflicting.  “Bowdown bitches” is a reoccuring lyric as well. Ewww. Really Beyonce? You call yourself a feminist, but use the word “bitches” to refer to other women?

 

 

It can be argued that Beyonce is simply doing what male rappers/RB artists have done for years- express their sexual power and wishes, use explicit language, and talk about feminine/masculine power. Is she being a feminist with this approach? However, “Pretty Hurts” also takes her directly feminist approach by empowering women with their body. But what made me even more confused are the videos in the album. ALL SEXUAL!! Some even go in BDSM and exploiting Beyonce’s body. Again, is this her feminist side coming out? Or is she trying to sell music by exposing herself??

 

 

Then take a look at the order of the songs on the CD. If “Pretty Hurts” is the first song and the rest of the songs are sexual anthems, a confused approach to female empowerment (“Flawless”  and “Superpower”) and the second to last song is “Heaven” (about someone dying – maybe her miscarriage in 2011?) and “Blue” is about her baby Blue Ivy – is Beyonce simply telling her points of view and her own life in an album?  Quite genius if you ask me.

Shakira has never been marketed to children or claimed a female empowerment image or portrayal. After her hair went blonde, Shakira took of her clothes, shook her hips and sexualized all her music and moves. She was never really kid friendly. However, Beyonce is different and therefore owes her fan base that consists of all ages some respect- at least in the mainstream.  Take a look at this Wendy William’s clip:

 

Fast forward to 8:05

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9UtjHmMyZ0

 

While its true that Beyonce did not sign up to be a role model, her team has marketed her as a role model. Nobody really goes out there and says “I want to be a role model for kids.” Your actions and marketing strategies speak for themselves. I do agree with Wendy about having Beyonce be better than other pop stars and that she is talking about sex with her HUSBAND. But lets be realistic: even I had my “role model” while I was growing up and I was thankful that those role models were Saint Selena and early Shakira. However, not every body falls for positive role models. Sigh! Add more to my Beyonce’ confusion….

 

I have to give props to Beyonce and her team to where its due. They have caused controversy, attracted a more adult audience, sexualized yet femenized Beyonce’s image and have intrigued people to listen to the CD. Her musical side of the CD is excellent and this is clearly a well thought out musical CD. So how do I feel about Beyonce??? I still… love… to dislike… or like?… her…Do I? One thing is for sure: see you at the Grammy’s next year, Beyonce. See you there with your flawless face, fantastic booty that you throw all over my computer screen, your beautiful voice and even better music.

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