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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Is Beyoncé Overrated?

I love Beyoncé. I am a major fan of her. I enjoy her music and have since I was about eleven. I own all of her albums. My personal favourites are 4, B’day and the self-titled album. I think she is beautiful, talented, smart and hard-working, and comes across as a down-to-earth, humble person. I am sure if I met her, based on what I have read of her and seen of her in interviews, that she would be shy and demure and I would out-talk her nineteen to the dozen.

I also think she is overrated. I dislike the fact that she is viewed as a ‘Queen’ or a ‘goddess’, the epitome of absolute perfection. It’s creepy and weird to put a person on a pedestal like that, like
they’re a God. I have a massive poster of her on my room, as well as ones of Michael Jackson and Alicia Keys. But I don’t worship them. I don’t ‘worship’ people. Maybe when I was a bit younger I held her up more, but nowadays I don’t. I don’t believe in role models; I think you need to be your own role model. Sure, you can look up to people who inspire you but recognise that they're just people.

I'm a musician. I see talented, hard-working musicians all the time that are much better than Beyoncé. They have a better voice, they play instruments, their songs are better crafted and they actually write them themselves. Beyoncé is not ‘untalented.’ She is a good singer. I think she has a lovely voice that is aesthetically pleasing to listen to. Her music is easy-listening and fun to dance to. Nice upbeat R&B/pop stuff that I enjoy. I like the soulful rhythms and melodies her voice compliments them with.

There is a debate among musicians about whether singers are classed as musicians. Yes, the voice can be used as an instrument. But in terms of technique, I feel like this would only apply to astounding singers; opera singers, powerful vocalists like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Jazz singers like Al Jarreu and Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Beyoncé does not have a phenomenal voice. I’m not a great singer. I can sing, sure, I can hold the right notes and stay in tune, but I’m not brilliant. But for my style and overall craft, it’s not necessary for me to be the best singer. For a popular vocalist you don’t need to be ‘the best’ singer in the world. If she was singing gospel or soul or opera or jazz then her voice probably wouldn’t be able to reach up there. She is fundamentally a good pop vocalist, but not superbly excellent.

It is my view that most pop vocalists aren’t the best singers anyway. Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna don’t have great voices in my opinion.  A really good singer is someone with an incredible range, who really pulls you emotionally with their voice. Pop singers are not great singers. Lily Allen is not a brilliant singer. Nor were The Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke and Anita Baker were great singers, people who sold the richness of their voices. I would class Adele as a brilliant singer because she can really pull you with the richness of her voice.

Beyoncé is a great performer. I’ve seen her live and she is brilliant. She is someone that can entertain and put on a show and hold the audience. Her dance moves are good but they’re not the best; they're often repetitive. She isn’t on the level of Michael Jackson in terms of dancing. She can hold a show and entertain, and does it well, and she can sing. But in terms of her musical talent that’s where it starts and ends.

As a musician I don’t respect her that much. She doesn’t write all her own songs; once at uni my lecturer said that she has loads of writers come into her studio and collaborate and work on the songs with her. Sure, she adds stuff here and there, but if you listen to her lyrics there is nothing profound there. Maybe a few songs are a little deep, like ‘Haunted’ or ‘Pretty Hurts’, but more or less her songs are always about the same thing. Romance lovey-dovey songs. It’s not hard to write ‘all the single ladies’ or ‘hold up, they don’t love you like I love you’ or ‘got me lookin so crazy right now/uh oh uh oh uh oh oh no no.’ She would never write something like: ‘I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain’ or ‘dream if you can a courtyard, an ocean of violets in bloom/animals strike curious poses, they feel the heat the heat between me and you.’

There are so many musicians that are much better than her. My other great female musical love is Alicia Keys, and she is far more talented than Beyoncé. Not only does she play the piano brilliantly, she actually writes her own material. Again, most of her songs are typical lovey-dovey pop/R&B stuff, but her most recent album is more of a social-conscious album that says something profound. Not to say you can’t be profound without writing socially conscious music, but speaking as a writer words can be used well when describing any topic. Beyonce is far from a good lyricist, and that's only when she actually writes the words. Again, this is because she is a pop artist, not Bob Dylan. The undercut of this is that most contemporary pop musicians simply aren’t that fantastic. Pop music is like hamburgers, something to dish out to the masses.

What Beyoncé is incredibly good at is the way she has crafted her image. This is where she is smart. She doesn’t strike me as someone who is intellectually smart due to her lyrics; she isn’t a ‘thinker’ whereas musicians like Prince and Bob Marley ‘thought’ a bit more about what they said in their music. Beyoncé is a good businesswoman, probably an excellent businesswoman. And is it any wonder? She’s been doing this since she was a kid. Most creative artists start right from when they are little. Since Beyoncé was little she has been able to work on a carefully crafted image that oozes ‘perfection'; that is ‘regal-like’ and ‘god-like.’ She is, as I once heard someone say, an ‘idealized woman.’ The ‘epitome of feminism and womanhood.’ Truth is, Beyoncé probably doesn’t know the first thing about feminism – I’ll bet she’s never read The Feminine Mystique (in all fairness neither have I).

But one thing I haven’t mentioned yet which I will point out is that I do think she is a very good female role model. The reason for this is that a lot of her music does contain songs that emphasise female empowerment. Examples include ‘Independent Women pt 1’, ‘Survivor’, ‘World Wide Woman, ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Run the World.’ As I mentioned earlier, Beyoncé doesn’t strike me as someone who is particularly intellectual. But I do think she tries very hard to be a good role model for women. She is a successful woman who is wealthy, and also appears to have a happy home life.

Note I have put some words in bold. Those I will address now which brings me back to my point of marketing. Beyoncé’s success is based on the way she has sold herself. People think she is this wonderful, kind, humble, perfect person who shits gold and who no man would ever cheat on because that’s how she projects herself. That’s how she sells herself. All creative artists must have an image. It’s the pinnacle of performance. I don’t doubt Beyoncé is probably a kind, loving woman, but she has simply taken those elements and enhanced them to the point of making her entire artistry be about that. If Beyoncé truly was a bitch, it would be hard for her to act like a nice person whilst in the limelight yet have this cruel bitchy layer underneath.

Beyoncé, in my books, does not deserve to be treated like a goddess. I don’t think it’s healthy to treat people like they are benign. I don’t adhere to ‘worship’ anyway. I do adore her, just like I adore Alicia Keys, Stephen King, cats, American Dad – but I know these things are not perfect. Ok, I take that back. Cats are perfect. I worship cats.

But in all seriousness, she is an idealized woman who has simply marketed herself to be this image of virtue and holy perfection. Interestingly, she is also a Christian, and isn’t Christianity all about virtue and holier-than-thou? It’s like she’s the female Jesus, only she sings rather than grants miracles. I once read somewhere that when she was younger she was with her boyfriend and there was some incident and she fled the scene because she didn’t want it to interfere with her image. She pays such close attention to detail.

There is no dirt on Beyoncé. She doesn’t curse publicly; there are no leaked sex tapes or nudes, no outlandish/controversial statements, no slip-ups or embarrassing snaps. In a way, as much as I adore her music, as a person she seems like she would be quite dull. I doubt her and I would have much in common, besides our drive for success and love of music. But she doesn’t seem like someone who has much personality. Everything she does is crafted around this image of perfection, and to me that seems boring. No one is perfect and perfection is not a real thing. I’ve always thought perfection in itself is vastly overrated.


  1. I agree Beyoncé does not have a phenomenal voice. I think she's all image all the time and her true nature doesn't seem warm and friendly to me. She comes off to me first and foremost like a good businesswoman and an iconic "diva". Not a very talented "musician" and not an icon for women's rights (but maybe Feminism). I think her image is crafted around how she can make money at the time.

    1. I agree with what you said; the thing with celebrities is it's hard to decipher their true nature because a lot of what we see is constructed. As mentioned some of her songs are very based around female empowerment (also, as a fan of hers it's easier for me to write this rather than someone who isn't because I can look at it from both angles). She comes across as someone who is very pro-women, but she is married herself and has always had a good relationship with her father so is certainly not anti-men.

    2. I agree and many people don't realize how constructed these people and anyone on TV is at all times, so I'm glad you mentioned that.

      I don't see her as being very pro-women nor anti-men, I see her as being pro-Feminist and/or pro-herself. A lot of her "messages" are hypocritical and contradictory. Like I said, I think she just goes with whatever's popular at the time. Big trend follower/pusher.


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