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Monday, 25 December 2017

Alicia Keys vs Beyoncé

Ah, two of my favourite female singers. Guys, I am a person who thinks, and people who think need to keep on thinking. So here's to some thoughtful thoughts about these two women. (Spoiler alert: Alicia Keys is better. Let's find out why).
Over the past couple years now, I've been moving away from 'idealizing' people like I used to. This includes celebrities. Though I've never been a hardcore 'fangirl' (apart from when it comes to Game of Thrones and Family Guy), I have always loved these two women and enjoyed their music. I relate to Alicia because she began writing songs from a young age and played piano whilst I play guitar (and now drums and keys). I thought Beyonce was a lot of fun and epitomized feminism, which I used to agree with. She's this successful, stunning woman, who seems to evoke power and drive. And on more superficial levels, maybe there was some subconscious connection with them both being black and female like me.

As I've gotten older and learned some more things about music, my opinion of Alicia Keys hasn't really changed. I still think she's brilliant; she isn't 'perfect'; she can go out of tune when live (I've seen her), and her songs can be samey. But she's good at what she does, and I think Here is one of her best albums. She's very honest, doesn't have a shallow image of perfection, and comes across as grounded and passionate in her art. And she's a musician - she's a very good pianist, trained in both Jazz and Classical music. She writes her own songs with additional collaboration, as opposed to having a team of writers write for her and her adding a bit here and there. She's intelligent, having written a book of poems called 'Tears for Water', and attended Columbia University for a month before dropping out to focus on her music career. And she's the founder of a charity called 'Keep a Child Alive' which is all about helping children with AIDs in Africa.

My views on Beyonce, however, have shifted. I am still a fan. I love her songs. They're fun. But I also love Sex and the City because it's fun and entertaining, however I know it's not a 'great' or 'perfect' show.  Beyonce is talented. Her voice is very pleasant to listen to, but it's not on the level of Nina Simone or Whitney Houston or even Jennifer Hudson. If you've seen the movie Dreamgirls you will know what I'm referring to. Beyonce is a shite actress. Her characters are boring and dry; typical nicey-nice girl next door types just like her constructed image. But Jennifer Hudson was incredible in Dreamgirls, vocally and acting-wise deserving her Oscar.
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There are a lot of stars in the music industry who sing well, look good, hardly write their own songs and play no instruments. Rihanna, Katy Perry, Nicole Scherzinger, Britney Spears, Ciara, Selena Gomez, Arianna Grande, Shakira. What is so different about Beyonce compared to these other women? Why is she the 'Queen' when Alicia Keys, Adele, Emeli Sande, Taylor Swift, Jessie J, and Lady Gaga all write their own material, play instruments or have as good or better voices?

The answer is IMAGE. Her image is one that reeks of perfection, and her fanbase worships her and treats her like a goddess because that is the image she projects onto them. Yet she is smart enough to make herself come across as very humble and down-to-earth. She might be humble and kind in person, but why is that enough to make someone seem beyond the magnitude of grandiose? No one with half a brain would called Madonna 'perfect.' Madonna is not a great singer, but she's a brilliant performer and artist who takes risks and has changed her image several times. She is someone who has pushed boundaries and changed the way women are perceived in music. I'm not a massive fan of her though I like some of the 80s hits, but I find her more 'impressive.' She also started out as a drummer in the band 'Breakfast Club.'

I think if you stripped away Beyonce's looks, and perhaps her rich (and highly overrated) husband, you'd be stripping away a lot of her glory. Being 'kind' and 'beautiful' doesn't equate to being a fantastic musical artist. I've read Miles Davis' autobiography and the guy sounds like a cunt. Ditto James Brown. Prince was a petty stingy git with his music. Nina Simone was incredibly talented; great voice, played keys well, but she was far from pretty and apparently had a big attitude. Mariah Carey is a great singer with an impressive range, but she's an imperfect diva. Michael Jackson was beyond screwed up. How many musicians have died due to drug addiction? No one would call Kurt, Hendrix, Amy or Janis Joplin flawless.

They're driven artists, they're successful, they're hard-working, and they've achieved a hell of a lot more than I have. But between the two of them; Alicia Keys is a musician, and Beyonce is just a pretty lady with a good voice. 

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