It took three listens for Beyonce’s Beyonce to grow on me. On the first listen, only XO stood out. Its pop rock vibe appealed to an adult contemporary/pop-rock/rock/punk head like me. It brought out all the ‘feels’ in me and I kept it on repeat till I got tired and moved on.
I looked out for Flawless, the song that featured our own Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Flawless is a sort of remix of Bow Down (Bitches), a single Beyonce released earlier this year. She was criticised by some feminists for what they saw as ‘Yonce’s attack on her fellow women. In response, Beyonce tried to add a feminist vibe to the song; hence Chimamanda’s appearance on the song. The author talked about how women are trained from birth to hide themselves and allow men shine. In that context, one can finally see some reason in Beyonce calling her fellow women, ‘Bitches’ and asking them to bow down.
If you’ve followed much of Beyonce’s career, you would come to learn that she is for all intents and purposes in competition against herself. She does not just want to be a singer but a legend, much like Michael Jackson- hence her serious focus on her choreography, her videos etc. Unlike Kanye West she is not just talking the talk, she is walking it.
But on another level – and this is me just opining here – she is still trying to justify the breakup of Destiny’s Child. She wants to prove that being a star was not just her daddy’s dream; it is her destiny to control and achieve. Flawless was more or less a diss to all the women and men who felt that marriage would be the end of her dreams – her desire to conquer the world. For thinking that marriage would lessen her. Nope. Bow down bitches, Beyonce is not letting one aspect of her life define her.
I love the feminist theme in Flawless: “I woke up like this” should be my self-affirming anthem from now onwards.
Pretty Hurts, coming from Beyonce – the blond black woman – at some point, sounded kind of hypocritical. Beyonce is allegedly one of the female stars who have influenced young women to dress rather sexy, to see their sexuality as power. What happens to those of us who are not sexy? Who don’t have big breasts and backsides, flawless skin, the savviest make up skills and the best dress sense? We see Beyonce and we aspire to be that and now she tells us Pretty Hurts? Duh! Meanwhile in another part of her album she talks about being Flawless – make up your mind, Ms. Bey.
Still, after three listens – and unlike an album like John Legend’s Love in the Future – the lyrics didn’t pop out at me. And when they did they sounded repetitive in their theme – sex, raw sex, love (for Jay Z) and more sex.
The album is very sexual – Drunk in Love, Jealous, Superpower, Rocket. In fact, almost all the songs – apart from the one dedicated to her daughter, Blue Ivy titled Blue and Heaven – talked about raw hot sex. Not bad.