Come on, girl, you can do better than this!
An open letter to Beyonce Knowles…
I feel like it’s safe to call you “B” because my family feels like we know you so well. To borrow a phrase from the Tom Cruise/Renee Zellweger movie, “Jerry Maguire,” you had us at “hello.”
Well, not exactly. We’ve never actually exchanged greetings and salutations. But ever since our oldest son was really little and he and all of his daycare pals went through this phase where these little, fit-in-your-hand mini-boom box/jukebox music players were the must-have item, you’ve been a part of our family. You could buy these tiny cartridges that would play a verse or a chorus from a popular song when you inserted one in the miniature music player, and our son’s first cartridge was a Destiny’s Child song, the three-girl singing group you fronted. He later obtained cartridges that featured songs by Pink and Britney Spears, but the Destiny’s Child tune was always his fave. Maybe it was the favorite of all of us, since he walked around the house with that little musical device constantly in his hand.
And why did he/we dig the Destiny’s Child song the most? Because of you, B. Because you were the class of that act from day one. You were the energy, the force, the one who stood out. There was so much power and conviction in everything you did. Maybe your voice needed to mature a bit back in those days, but there was no doubt you were going to be a musical and entertainment icon all by yourself, not part of a group, someday.
That someday came pretty fast. Soon, Destiny’s Child was no longer and you in rapid fashion became possibly the most popular and well-known pop culture figure on the planet. You even crossed over and appeared on the big screen in several films as one song of yours after another bolted to the top of the charts.
And your music videos….wow. My family watches a few each morning on TV before we venture off to work and school, and when you had a hot video in heavy rotation, it was usually cause for everyone to drop what they were doing for a few precious moments to watch you do your thing. You’ve made a lot of music videos in your career, but one of your first ones, “Crazy in Love,” your first collaboration with your husband, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, might feature the best single hip shake in the history of the pelvis. And the tune was catchy, too.
But there were many more hits and many more videos that could stop us in our tracks. (I’ll forgive you for “Baby Boy” featuring that awful rapper Sean Paul.) The video for your song from the “Pink Panther” movie? Another stunner. And the whole Sasha Fierce alter-ego you created? My wife thought that was a nice transformation; she likes to think of herself as kind of a fierce woman, too, but in a positive, female-power kind of way. “Single Ladies”? Good song, amazing video. You were just such a hard worker. Even if someone didn’t like your music and didn’t like your videos, they could still look at you and immediately realize that you weren’t a person who was just mailing it in in return for another fat paycheck; you were an artist who gave 110 percent all of the time because you didn’t consider giving anything less an option.
All of which makes it that much tougher to ask you...what happened? Maybe Rihanna happened, because – it hurts me to say this – she’s kicking your butt, B. Even your sister, Solange, came out with a song in 2012, “Losing You” that’s 10 times better than anything that you’ve produced in a few years.
It hurts me to write this, B, but you are in a major rut. Your collaborations with Shakira and Lady GaGa? Neither one is terrible, but you don’t need to collaborate, B; your name should be alone in the marquee.
And that goes for working with your husband, too. Maybe that’s the problem, B. We all know you’re happily married and have a wonderful little girl, Blue Ivy. We all know that you and Jay are the poster children for the super power couple, with the multi-billion dollar empire that you oversee together. But does that mean we want to be invited into your bedroom – or, excuse me, your kitchen – as you snarl lyrics like “I been drinkin’, I been drinkin’” and “we be all night” and “ridin’ that surfboard, ridin’ that surfboard,” all of which detail a wild night of sex with your husband, in “Drunk in Love”? The song’s video smacks of desperation, if only just a little bit, as you bounce around half-naked on the beach. And then Jay raps during the song’s bridge. In another recent video, he basically smokes a cigar and stares at the stage while you practically strip for him. And then Jay raps, yet again, during the song’s bridge.
B, it doesn’t need to be this way. It’s all so...unnecessary. Rihanna just came out with a regrettable collaboration with Shakira, too, so maybe this is your chance. Cut out the soft porn and sing about something other than your ultra-rich spouse. And dance, girl! It’s your destiny.