Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Song: Irreplaceable
Artist: Beyonce
Album: B-Day

Third time seems to be a charm for Beyonce who is finding the THIRD single from her sophomore solo album “B-Day” to be the first out and out hit.

It’s been infiltrating the airwaves for a while now but I only recently became obsessed with this song. This is possibly because of “Dreamgirls,” which I recently saw, as I’ve been thinking about Beyonce a lot. The woman, the music, the actress, the commodity, etc. All of this has lead me to think… who is the real Beyonce?

As you all probably know, Beyonce was breed to be a superstar. Coached by her father with a gaggle of other girls, Beyonce and crew dubbed Destiny’s Child finally hit the big-big time with their second album, “The Writings on the Wall” with the major hits “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bug-A-Boo,” “Jumpin, Jumpin,” and of course their signature, “Say My Name.” They loss two members, gained one, released another album “Survivor” with another slew of top ten urban-pop hits, and all this time, Beyonce was being groomed for super-mega stardom. The group released one more limp record and Beyonce hit the ceiling with her first solo record “Dangerously in Love.” “Crazy in Love” will no doubt go down as one of the best pop songs of our age, she hooked up with Jay-Z and cemented her street cred, and took small roles in big movies to get her feet wet for her big coming out.

So the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 was supposed to be the moment where Beyonce went from successful singer to multi-platform brand. Her highly anticipated second record was coming out as well as a “starring” performance in the Broadway-to-film adaptation of “Dreamgirls” where she was to play the Diana Ross-ish member of a 60’s girl-group that was pushed to lead the group and become the real star while the chubby but better singer (Jennifer Hudson) was pushed out of the spotlight. Since Destiny’s Child sort of had the same history, and Beyonce was in fact BEYONCE, this was truly going to be her moment.

But things didn’t go to plan exactly.

First single from “B-Day” “Déjà vu” made little dent at radio despite the expectation that it was going to be a surefire hit. It had Jay-Z, it had the horn sample a-la “Crazy in Love,” and she wore less clothes than ever in the video. The problem was… it was TOO “Crazy in Love” and despite really calling itself out by being named “Déjà vu” literally, audiences didn’t bite. Possibly because half didn’t know what “Déjà vu” actually meant. Then, almost too quickly, the second single, “Ring the Alarm” came out accompanied with a video that made Beyonce, for the first time, looked like… well crazy. She was dressed like Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct,” her hair was all over the place, and in her eyes it was possible she was on the verge of jumping through the camera and eating the watcher. Not even a rumor that the song was directed at Little-Beyonce Rihanna for alledgedly sleeping with Jay-Z couldn’t make the song into a hit. (I on the other hand rather liked it and liked the Beyonce-as-crazy-ho thing.)

Then came the media blitz that was “Dreamgirls.” And early interview with Rolling Stone painted the film as the launch pad for the world domination of this lady, there was Oscar talk, but when people actually got to see the film all they could talk about was Jennifer Hudson, an American Idol cast-off that didn’t have a single song on the radio. Even when the Golden Globe nominations were announced and Beyonce was put as Best Actress and Jennifer as Best-Supporting, people did not embrace it, calling it politics that lead to her character’s raised status when many believed it to be Jennifer’s show as her character is the heart of the film.

And then, just as “Dreamgirls” is about to be released wide, “Irreplaceable,” “B-Day’s” third single actually becomes a hit and Beyonce is once again on top… of at least something. The song is pretty great and plays into some of the same things that made some of Destiny’s Child songs hits… the woman done wrong by a man who is about to get hers. Say my name indeed. “Irreplaceable” is an infectious, “get your ass out of my house” mid-tempo jam that shows Beyonce with teeth, but not freak-out “Ring the Alarm” crazy-bitchness. While thematically it’s a bit been there done that, the song itself is crazy catchy and actually MEANS something. Between album hit “Check On It” was sublime in it’s hooks despite being vaguely about well… nothing. “Irreplaceable” is a home run on all bases.

But who is Beyonce? I suppose that these are personas that she is trying on in these songs, which many artists from Bowie to Madonna, to Diana Ross herself have taken on but in the end I think we KNEW who those people are, who is Beyonce?!?!

“Dreamgirls” is another problem because while she is not bad by any means she is just a blank slate. The biggest problem is that she is given absolutely nothing to do. I think it’s unfair to compare her performance with Hudson’s as Jennifer gets all the great lines and songs as Effie. Beyonce has very little to do but look just like Diana Ross. She looks absolutely stunning, the camera loves her, but she never connects with the character. And I refuse to jump on the Jennifer Hudson gush-train. The girl can sing, she knows how to pop her hip, swing her head, and give the attitude but that’s not acting. And some of her lines do drop dead. But then again, these girls aren’t actors. (On a side note, the movie is worth seeing for Eddie Murphy alone as he gives one of the best performances in his career making great strides with a secondary character.)

The Golden Globes, the Oscars, and final box office will cement what Beyonce will take out of this whole project… but she should sleep better, despite the up and down drama of these projects that her backlash just proves that she HAS in fact made it. Like Madonna, the public decided for a change that she had gotten a little too big and needed to be cut down a bit. A sure sign of super-stardom! But there is always another record or another film to possibly re-imagine herself and make it happen once again.

“To the left to the left…”


The video:

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