This reads more like a journal than anything because I guess it is! It was written to one person who informed me that she really disliked Beyonce’s new album because every song was about how great Beyonce is. While I understood her sentiments, I could not audibly articulate how much I disagreed! Beyonce and I have too much history for me to spew off in one sitting (so the history is one sided but still). I don’t take what I say for fact, just opinion. I merely hope to give some insight as to what I, as a super fan, know about Beyoncé’s songs and what they mean to me! I don’t want this self-titled album to be chalked up to just another sexually liberating album and nothing more. It is a sexually liberating album and so much more.
As a public relations major, a move like this is equivalent to being an astronomy major and witnessing a supernova that is brighter than Venus. So a pretty big deal. Beyoncé has forever changed this industry in terms of record releases so prepare for a lot more “surprise” albums in the future. And yes, I know it was really Beyoncé’s PR team, but let’s be real, when you work for someone in that industry, you are a part of them. Everything good or bad reflects on them. Beyoncé said of the release,
“I miss that immersive experience. Now, people only listen to a few seconds of songs on their iPods. They don’t invest in a whole album. It’s all about the single, and the the hype is so much that gets between the music and the artist and the fans. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
On the “visual album” itself, she said,
“I see music. It’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion. A memory from my childhood. Thoughts about life. My dream or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music. And I think it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do a visual album. I wanted people to hear the songs with the story that’s in my head, ’cause that’s what makes it mine. That vision in my brain is what I wanted people to experience the first time.”
Comparisons are being made to Michael Jackson’s Thriller in which the videos were just as important as the songs. So not only did she gifts us with this surprise album that was marketing genius, but she gave us 17 videos and 14 songs!!! Videos normally cost 1.99 on iTunes and are never included in the 7.99-15.99 (depending on length and original release date) full-length album. So essentially, this was as inclusive as one can get. Every single fan is ensured the opportunity to watch the entire video set. We are all one; we can all break down the subtle messages in the videos together. But again, from a marketing standpoint this was genius because for the first week“Beyoncé” is being sold exclusively on iTunes. The “visual album” a term she coined, is not up for grabs at any of the big retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, or BestBuy just yet. Telling those who calculate her success in the first week that she managed all of this with a single outlet. So while the album is in an inclusive mindset, the exclusivity of getting it makes it that much more desirable. Innovative. And this was all I thought about before I even pressed play!
The video begins with a man asking Beyoncé “Ms. Third Ward, what is your aspiration in life?” Major throwback, as Beyoncé did tons of pageants as a kid. I like to think she sees how damaging pageants can be for young girls and young women and not mocking as much as reflecting on what could have come of her if she stayed in the pageant circuit. *Side note: I begged my mom to let me do a pageant when I was 9 years old and she did, it was a very strange environment. I did fairly well for never having done one before and having no talents. My mom was put out by the families that were betting their life savings on their children (no joke), the superficiality, and she thought it was a marketing scam. I am honestly surprised she even let me finish that one pageant. I was more intrigued than disgusted. The girls were so pretty. Blonde, tons of makeup, pretty dresses, perfectly poised. I still remember this one girl in a baby blue dress who ended up winning. Looking at her, I wondered what it felt like to be perfect? I, on the other hand, was as confident then as I am now so this was questioned out of pure curiosity. If I would have stayed in the pageant world I honestly think I would not be nearly as happy with myself as I am today. My mom said I came out of the womb with confidence, but even so, I looked at my long gangly brown legs, already expanding womanish figure, thick long frizzy hair, and knew I wasn’t meant for this world. So that is my personal connection to pageants and the pressure they put on children. Beyoncé is beautiful, no doubt but to be a young black girl in the south, Texas no less, competing against the best of the best must have been grueling.
In the beginning of the song the pageant host addresses her as “Ms. Third Ward”, which for those who do not know is one of six wards in Houston and is the traditionally African-American ward (The Hunger Games anyone?), so this is Beyoncé’s way of giving a shout out to those back home, which she does quite frequently, but this one is specifically for her people. He asks her what her aspirations are and she says simply to be happy. We are to assume she is playing a character then, yes? So the take-home is that this beautiful young woman just wants what we all want, and that is to be happy.
Mama said, “You’re a pretty girl. What’s in your head, it doesn’t matter. Brush your hair, fix your teeth. What you wear is all that matters.”
“Just another stage, pageant the pain away. This time I’m gonna wear the crown.”
Confession time: I used to be obsessed with reality TV (I was sick for years and had nothing but books and TV). Real Housewives, Basketball Wives, Parking Wars (about parking meter maids, I kid you not), but one of my favorites was Toddlers and Tiaras (ew, I know). Pageants are as much a drug as any to some of these parents, and they are training their kids to be the same way (not all, but still) so you have this adrenaline rush and winning releases all the endorphins. Doesn’t matter that you used a house loan to compete.
“Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
I love this so much. We constantly pick at tiny insignificant things breaking our confidence down, we shine the light on whatever we are most disgusted with when in fact often times there is nothing there. The soul, the essence of a human is what needs to be helped. While I hate to be so broad, I think a lot of that has to do with societal images that are put out there. She calls out Vogue and how they say thinner is better, but the TV says bigger is better (as in breast and butts). These two conflicting worlds, Hollywood versus NYC fashion, are telling us our bodies are wrong in every way possible. Throughout the video we see a distraught Beyoncé as a pageant girl, she has an eating disorder and is barely hanging on. At the end it’s like she is asking if you were naked in every way possible, would you like what you see? And sadly, I think many of us would say no.
Drunk in Love:
Released 10 years after Crazy in Love with Jay-Z. 10 years after 0’3 Bonnie and Clyde. Can’t take the cuteness. This may somewhat stereotypical, but black couples mean a lot to people in the black community. Not that we don’t ever get married but so rarely is the black man even in the picture as far as media goes. Again, I’m just sharing my personal experience. So couples like the Obamas and Z’s (jk, they’re the Carter-Knowles clan) show blacks, whites, everyone that there are strong black couples out there. The men aren’t always absent and the women aren’t always single not, that that is bad, but when you see it constantly reinforced through music, movies, real life, books, etc. Well, you think that’s how it not only is, but how it is to always be. Also, I have never been in love… or on a date… or had a boyfriend (this is sad lol), but I imagine when I am I will feel truly drunk in love!
*After I wrote this* I heard the line “Eat the cake Anna Mae… I said eat the cake Anna Mae,” which is in reference to the physical abuse between Tina Turner (real name, Anna Mae) and Ike Turner; it’s making light of a well documented case of abuse and has now tainted the song for me. I am sick to learn that Beyonce allowed such a disgusting line in a fun-spirited song of jubilation. Of course, it is Jay-Z who wrote the ignorant lyric and is to blame, but the song itself now leaves a bad taste in my mouth and that is beyond disheartening. I respect Beyonce enough to hold her responsible for this BS. I know she is in control of what goes on her album and could have prevented this crap. My list will continue as there are some very wonderful feminist-inspired songs that follow. I definitely think that part of growing up is realizing that people you look up to (parents, religious leaders, musicians) make mistakes, and this in no way is my way of saying, “oh well,” but it is me mulling over the fact that I have to accept that people I respect are going to screw up and must be held accountable for their actions. This is not “hate” as much as accountability.
Just a fun/sexual song with bright colors and lights but the BEST part is that it was directed by Todrick Hall! A videographer, dancer, choreographer, YouTuber extraordinaire! I’ve loved his videos (he’s the biggest Beyoncé fan EVER) for a long time so it’s so great that they enlisted him to do a video for her. I can imagine he freaked. Here are some of my favorite Beyoncé Inspired videos he has done!
Beyoncé’s thank you to him! : D She is so cute.
So in the beginning, Beyoncé says, “Let me hear you say hey Mrs.Carter….” At the “Mrs. Carter” world tour this summer she had all of her audiences say this and it was just so cute! There’s something magical about someone who is just happy to be married, especially with so much divorce in the world. I remember there were a ton of feminists that were mad at her for calling her tour “Mrs.Carter”, and it was so annoying but it did not phase my Beyoncé one BIT. On that note, so many feminists love to say that Beyoncé (who refers to herself as a feminist) is not really one and I say POO ON YOU. I’m sick of women saying Beyoncé is selling herself short, her booty shaking is disturbing; she is overtly sexual for men. Can a woman not dance for herself? To make herself feel good? Is that not why we do thing like new hairstyles and clothing? For some, yes it may be to impress their crush or significant other but for many, it’s an empowering feeling to look good. And whether you do it for yourself or for someone else. Does. Not. Matter. Beyoncé holds all the power. She is a woman that decides what she wants to do and this is what she wants to do. Towards the end of the song, we hear a French woman say “”Est‐ce que tu aimes le sexe? “Le sexe. Je veux dire, l’activité physique. Le coït. Tu aimes ça? Tu ne t’interesses pas au sexe? Les hommes pensent que les féministes détestent le sexe, mais c’est une activité très stimulante et naturelle que les femmes adorent.” Which translated means, Do you like sex? Sex. I mean, the physical activity. Coitus. Do you like it? You’re not interested in sex? Men think that feminists hate sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love.”
Okay, so I am Catholic and for my personal body I don’t believe in having sex until I am married. This is the number one question people ask me about being Catholic and a feminist. How can I simultaneously be sex positive for other people? Well, I think people are going to have sex and I would rather they be educated and use protection than not, an age-old argument. I know. So why do I love this loosely sampled quote from The Big Lebowski? Because I am sick of everyone and their mother thinking feminists are man hating, bitter, sexually deprived (in my case, yes lol), old hags! I am sure there are some that are but I just really want to praise B for subtly establishing her beliefs in yet another song (the French subtly). This song is def a sexually liberating single! I can count on one hand how many of my friends are still virgins. Sex is something most people are practicing which is fine with me because we all have different personal, religious, and spiritual beliefs. Even though I am conservative with my body, does not mean I am not okay with women being called whores and sluts while men are praised for being sexually active. This song says, “yes I have sex and I like it. There is nothing you can do about it.” I can’t say what I’m trying to say nearly as eloquently as Bitch Magazine so here’s their piece on why B is a feminist and everyone who disagrees, can just hush.
Literally flawless. I can’t even. She begins with Star Search in which “hip hop rapping, Girls Time”, lost. Beyoncé has said that this was one of her first lessons in the “business.” “In my mind we would perform on Star Search, we would win, we would get a record deal and that was my dream at the time,” which helped her realize that you could actually work super hard and give everything you have and lose. It was “the best message,” she added, because it made her more determined than ever. That’s why it’s on her album. Arguably the most feminist track on this album begins with the single it seems feminist (and conservatives alike) disliked the most. Sampled from Bow Down, Flawless starts with:
“I took some time to live my life
But don’t think I’m just his little wife
Don’t get it twisted, get it twisted
This my shit, bow down b*****s”.
Beyoncé said that Bow Down was to all of her haters, and was a way to essentially release steam she had. Pretty much everyone hated it because they felt it was her being disrespectful to her fans. So for her to take one of her most controversial songs and spin into something so Flawless is just immaculate. That was an even bigger middle finger to her haters, and I love it! Beyoncé is this new feminist icon that says you can be have a man and be married. You can have a baby/a loving family and still be a bad bitch. I hate the mentality that women should not rely on men for anything, love/spousal support in life/marriage. It’s fine if you don’t but it’s fine if we do! And let us not forget Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s PERFECT Ted Talk.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller
We say to girls: “You can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
Otherwise, you will threaten the man.”
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is most important support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are
Feminist: a person who believes in the social,
Political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
So much is right and nothing hurts. Thank you Beyoncé for exposing me to such an eloquent speaker. Thank you Chimamanda for explaining feminism to those who think us to be feminazis. Thank you both of you for not shaming those who want to be married, but calling out the hypocrisy of society’s views on sexual behaviors amongst boys and girls. THANK YOU. This song is not about saying Beyoncé is perfect and we all suck, it is about saying Beyoncé is flawless and we are flawless too. No matter what “they” may tell us, we are FLAWLESS. She shouts out her family for making her feel flawless. “I look so good tonight.” When we wake up, “tell him, I woke up like this.” See the correlation between this and the poorly-conveyed message of Bow Down? It’s a continuation of Bow Down. The original message continues. Do you baby boo. Have your kids and get married or don’t. At the end of the day, you are and always will be flawless.
I love Frank Ocean SOOOOOO much. Perfect old fashion tune for the two of them. Frank has a beautiful falsetto but this shows off his baritone. Beyoncé too has a smoky deep voice. I need more from the two of them. My best friend Tim and I like to sing this together despite both being tone-deaf haha.
Just as we are all getting used to calling her Bey, lol. NEW NICKNAME ALERT. I am majoring in public relations with the ultimate end goal to be some kind of publicist for models (oddly specific, but I have reasons), so I know of almost every big model in the game. IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN I SEE JOAN, CHANEL, AND JOURDAN. The TOP black models in the business (sad that there are only three) in this video. This song is a fun club song in my opinion, I love it! But the video speaks volumes. The top black/mixxie models in the game that are neverrrrr photographed together (cause you only need one to fill the quota, eh?) jamming out together! Beyoncé brought them all together looking like a bad arse girl group, ready to take the world by storm. Media pits them against one another, but yet here they are. Solidarity.
Destiny’s Child was my first concert when I was little with my family and then my sister and I again saw her this summer. Beyoncé has continuously been this older sibling presence in my life, she stands by her people. Whether it’s featuring new black artists or standing by Trayvon Martin’s family (doesn’t matter if you agree, you can not dispute the fact that it was a devastating loss for the black community as a whole). There is something so special about a black artist who has international fame and manages to have racial pride at the same time.
Beautiful, tragic, heart wrenching. Beyoncé exposes a gaping hole in her heart that was her miscarriage before Blue. “Heaven couldn’t wait for you, so go on go home.” That line breaks my heart. I have always respected how private Beyoncé is. She gives so much to her fans but has private things to go home to. I never even saw a wedding photo! That’s top-notch security, guys. But anyways, when I found out she miscarried and did not want to share of her second pregnancy for fear of losing her child again, my heart shattered. She spoke out for other women who have miscarriages. I can’t imagine anything harder. No matter whom you have lost, this song can speak to you. I always cry while listening to this. It’s a good song for closure in my opinion because the video shows mourning but also the continuation of life.
When I saw a song “featuring Blue Ivy” I was really excited. The song did not disappoint. I cried a lot the first time I heard this. Again, in true Bey fashion, she keeps her private moments, private. Not showing Blue off in front of the camera. We see her kissing on Blue, and doting on Blue. Motherhood is such a beautiful thing. Beyoncé shows all of these children in Brasil, such a colorful and lively country! At the end we get to see quick shots of Blue’s little face and hear her voice saying, “hold on to me, mommy!” MY HEART CANNOT TAKE THEM GIGGLING TOGETHER. And the way she sings “Blue” is magic.
One last thing, at the concert this summer, it was a mere two days after Detroit filed for bankruptcy. I had come back from my mission trip in Kentucky and I was super sleepy. Not in the Beyoncé state of mind I should have been. THEN she played this before she came out (ON TIME).
Yes, I cried. Because I love Detroit ever so much. I had really high seats and mid way through the concert Beyoncé flew on a harness to the middle of the concert hall so everyone could see her and not just the people in the front. I honestly feel like she is the complete opposite of an elitist and is one of the most thoughtful and considerate artists in the industry. I don’t think she is perfect (I am still thoroughly nauseated and confused as to why she okay-ed Jay Z saying “eat the cake Anna Mae) I am an adult, I know she is no better than any other person, she is going to mess up and she has messed up in the past. I don’t always agree with her, but I love her spirit and I will continue to support as long as I feel like her selflessness ,kind attitude, confidence, and feminism outshine all of the hate .
PS – I also LOVE Solange, but that’s another paper. (: