24

Why ‘Beyoncé’ Makes Me Want to Die

Look, I’ll be honest: I can’t stand Beyoncé. There’s something about her that has always stirred a sort of visceral loathing in me, something I’ve tried hard to articulate over the years. It’s a combination of the narcissism, the materialism, the arrogance, the faux feminism, and the awful, awful songs. And the fact that it seems I am the literal only person who feels this way (well, just about), while everyone else is writing articles like this. Beyoncé is not an avatar of perfection; she is a cashed-up diva with a temperature-controlled personal archive and a penchant for making propaganda films (and trampling people in her way). BUT! I am a professional. And I listened to Beyoncé with an open mind. I tried. I really did. This is what happened.

“Pretty Hurts”
So. The album opens with a song about the pervasiveness of the beauty myth, which sounds somewhat promising until you remember who’s singing it. Sample lyrics: “Just another stage/ Pageant the pain away/ This time I’m gonna take the crown/ Without falling down.” Look, America’s obsession with physical appearance and general superficiality is definitely a subject worth addressing in song. But sorry, you’ll excuse me for not taking you entirely seriously for singing “Perfection is the disease of a nation” when elsewhere on the album you devote an entire song to how perfect you are. (Oh yes, of course she does.) Or singing “Blonder hair, flat chest/ TV says bigger is better… Vogue says thinner is better,” because:

gq beyonce

“Haunted”
If you can make it through this album, you’ll notice a theme: samples from Beyoncé’s past. This song starts with the precocious little Knowles on stage at a talent show, thanking judges, her parents and the city of Houston for giving her some sort of award. Huzzah. But wait, this shit is hard, don’t you know? “All the shit I do is boring/ All these record labels boring/ I don’t trust these record labels/ I’m touring/ All these people on the planet/ Working 9 to 5, just to stay alive.” Yeah, all those funny little people, eh? Must be weird for them, right?

“Drunk in Love”
But look, this song is actually so awful that it’s kinda hilarious: a song about Beyoncé and Jay-Z having sex! Because that’s exactly what the world needed to hear! Clearly, the whole being-pretty-is-oh-so-difficult thing has long since been forgotten by now, since Beyoncé spends plenty of time talking about how hot she is (“No complaints for my body… Last thing I remember is our beautiful bodies grinding off in that club”). But honestly, it all pales in comparison to Jay-Z’s rap, which may be the actual worst thing ever recorded that does not involve will.i.am. It starts with bit of product placement and a “joke” that Jay-Z is so pleased with he repeats it three times (“That D’Ussé is the shit/ If I do say so myself” — GEDDIT?!), and then descends into what must surely be self-parody — “Foreplay in the foyer/ Fucked up my Warhol.” OH, BOO FUCKING HOO. Also “foyer” and “Warhol” don’t even vaguely rhyme. Even that’s trumped, though, by the immortal line that finishes Jay’s verse: “Your breasteses is my breakfast.” This is like hearing about your parents having sex. Make it stop.

“Blow”
Oh dear god, they’re still at it. “Can you lick my skittles?/ That’s the sweetest in the middle/ Pink that’s the flavor/ Solve the riddle.” What is it with people comparing vaginas to candy this year?

“No Angel”
Meh.

“Partition”
Not, sadly, about the 1947 division of the subcontinent and the creation of Pakistan, nor about the innovation of including a recovery partition with every standard install of OS X 10.7 and later. No, it’s about how hot Beyoncé is. Surprise. “Every boy in here with me got that smoke/ Every girl in here got to look me up and down… Ya man ain’t ever seen a booty like this.” And, oh, wait: THEY’RE FUCKING AGAIN. “Driver roll up the partition please/ I don’t need you seeing ‘yoncé on her knees… Oh he so horny, he want to fuck/ He bucked all my buttons, he ripped my blouse/ He Monica Lewinski all on my gown.” Disappointing product placement opportunity missed there, mind: surely it was a Versace gown or something?

“Jealous”
Wait! Trouble in paradise! They’re not fucking because Jay-Z’s out on the town somewhere! THE DRAMA! “I’m in my penthouse half naked/ I cooked this meal for you naked/ So where the hell you at?” Hey, we’ve all been there, right? The whole naked cooking thing? What? Oh.

“Rocket”
Normal service restored: they’re fucking again. “Rock right up to the side of my mountain/ Climb until you reach my peak babe, my peak, the peak/ And reach right into the bottom of my fountain.” #splash. (Also, it’s somewhat disturbing how she keeps calling him “daddy.” As in: “You ain’t right for doing that to me, daddy/ Even though I’ve been a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad girl/ Tell me what you’re gonna do about that/ Punish me, please.” Um.)

“Mine”
Wait! Trouble in paradise again! “I’ve been watching for the signs/ Took a trip to clear my mind/ Now I’m even more lost/ And you’re still so fine, oh my, oh my/ Been having conversations about breakups and separations/ I’m not feeling like myself since the baby.” Actually, there’s something pleasantly relatable about this: a hint of humanity beneath the gold-plated, airbrushed veneer. It turns out that even this is carefully contrived, though, because the rest of the song is  devoted to a narrative that, yes, brings her back to her dear husband. Reviewers are already falling over themselves to call this “a revealing look at Beyoncé,” and all such things, but it’s not, of course. You only ever see exactly what she wants you to see.

“XO”
I mean, what do you want me to say? It’s a big ol’ power ballad with a fucking choir on it.

“Flawless”
This is the compulsory pseudofeminist anthem on this record, the successor to “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies,” and it’s a load of utter fucking codswallop. You’ll have heard part of this before, as “Bow Down,” but now the “Bow down bitches” refrain is counterpointed by a long monologue from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who speaks eloquently about how the world sets women in competition against one another and how they’re taught to “shrink themselves… to make themselves smaller.” And LITERALLY A MINUTE LATER, Beyoncé is singing “This diamond, flawless/ My diamond, flawless… God damn, say I, I look so good tonight.” These boasts are interspersed by some sort of woolly cheerleading for girlz in general (“We flawless, ladies, tell ‘em”), but as a demonstration of how hollow Beyoncé’s patented brand of “modern day feminism” is, you couldn’t do much better: her version of empowerment, such as it is, is based on a sort of inherent conservatism, rooted not in compassion and generosity, but instead in materialism, braggadocio, and inescapable narcissism. Feminism is actually caring about people who are oppressed — women, minorities, the poor. It is not spending 99% of your time talking about how great you are and how much hotter you are than other women and how rich you are, and occasionally inserting some sort of nebulous piffle about “girls running the world” or whatever else. The empress isn’t naked; she’s dressed in shit you could never, ever afford, and she’s laughing at you. Bow down, bitches. (Also, the production is fucking dreadful.)

“Superpower”
Features Frank Ocean. More pseudoromantic bilge. I’m tired. My head hurts.

“Heaven”
An understated ballad for a loved one who’s died. And, hey, it’s really quite beautiful, actually.

“Blue”
And, finally, a song about the world’s most famous baby. Say whatever else you like about Beyoncé, she obviously loves her daughter. Good for her. And anyway, the album’s over. I need a drink.

[Edit: Some follow-up thoughts on this piece, and the way I addressed its subject matter, here. -TH]

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23 comments
Beauty4u2nvy
Beauty4u2nvy

I totally agree with you. I'm so tired of everyone talking about Beyoncé like she's God. There are so many performers that blow her out of the water, lyrically, vocally, and if we must talk about looks, that too. People definitely drink the Beyoncé Kool-Aid.

Since her interview on Oprah after the album with Dangerously In Love on it, I lost the little respect that I had for her. She professes to be a Christian, and then tells Oprah God gives her permission to sing these songs because it's her job. Well, I guess God gives strippers, and the cartel permission to do what they do too (smh).

She's simply a product of her father being a phenomenal manager. She fired him at the right time--when so many people or obsessed with her, and when songs don't have to have any substance, just a nice beat.

I'm just glad not everyone is on the Beyoncé bandwagon!

AlyssaStarz16
AlyssaStarz16

Ok... Well for one thing, the title of this article is little too extreme. If she made you want to die you would've been dead by now because you hear half of these songs everywhere. So she obviously doesn't make you want to die. I'm actually really curious to know what kind of music you listen to, because I'm pretty sure you don't listen to R&B/Soul which is generally known as "black music" and Beyoncé's music falls underneath that genre. You're not black, so obviously you would be judging her music. Not every African-American listens to R&B but c'mon... A good majority do. Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke are very well known white artists who sing R&B ... But would you catch a whole lot of white people listening to it? It sounds like you never liked her in the first place. If you don't like the woman and her music, god didn't demand you to turn it on, put your headphones in your ears, and listen to every single song off the album. You did all that on your own time, talking about "I tried listening to it with an open-mind" well it wasn't that open. Don't give Beyoncé your precious Internet time because she doesn't want it because guess what? In the end, you just gained people's attention towards the woman, and idk if you bought the album to listen or you illegally listened to it... But you probably just earned her some cash money.

Aicha Bouziane
Aicha Bouziane

AMEN!

I agree with this article completely, thank you!

MarioAntonioReynoso
MarioAntonioReynoso

Haters will hate forever and beyond, unless they come across an epiphany. Then they'll probably realize hating is counter productive. Not everyone is folky or boring. Some people like to have fun actually. She's very smart and talented women. Beyonce knows how to work the industry.

Taran Tula
Taran Tula

I cant stand her either. Her voice is just awful. She sounds like shes yelling and screaming not singing. She dumped her team like they were trash. Shes selfish, fake and conceited. I dont like her.

SheenAyrton
SheenAyrton

I hate Beyonce and everything that she stands for. Her music is manufactured garbage, which the drones lap up in their millions. It is more akin to wailing than singing, and just the overall sound I find offensive, before even talking about the low-IQ lyrics.


The way she and Jay-Z have turned their terrible music into a lucrative business is genius marketing, but don't try and tell me the music is good or the artists are especially talented.

ChristalValbracht
ChristalValbracht

I also agree about the over use of "daddy" in her songs. Gross. Rocket sounds like she is being molested by her father. Yuk.

ChristalValbracht
ChristalValbracht

This just made my year! You could not have said it better! Why is everyone drinking the kool-aid with regard to Beyonce? It is unreal. I too feel like you, I cannot stand how full of herself and fake she appears. She used to rip of Jennifer Lopez's look and dance moves like 15 years ago and I don't know why no one noticed that back then? Thank you so much for writing this!! Makes me feel less alone. :-)

yourownkathleen
yourownkathleen

Yeah, sorry. You weren't writing in an effort to even remotely contribute in a productive, unbiased way at all. You seriously just wanted to seize an opportunity to put down an artist you already hated. 


Go you.

DivineGrace
DivineGrace

In spite of the Beyonnaise fans who would have you believe that she's somehow curing cancer by throwing her wig around a room, this article is pretty much perfection.

Bravo.

TracieLynMartin
TracieLynMartin

Beyonce is a powerful artist. I support her every album she puts out, but I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to really connect with her new album. It felt a little awkward seeing her perform drunk in love and talking about "grinding on that wood." One thing I really liked about Bey is her ability to be sexy and classy; however, it seems that she took a totally different route this time. This album is the most boring one and everyone seems afraid to say that because she and her husband are power houses. I love Bey, but this album just sits in my car, and not in my CD player. I have been bumping Eminem for awhile. I just hoped that she would have created something of substance. This is my opinion so stans can kiss my ask.

Daylight Amy
Daylight Amy

Your definition of feminism is very limited, limiting and frankly it is almost hateful. So what you are saying is that a woman cannot be feminist if she celebrates how she looks (Flawless)? You are saying that the only true woman is a woman who reaffirms self-hate, and purges self-love so people don't call he arrogant? Please. It is very obvious that Flawless is about women celebrating that they are naturally beautiful ("I woke up like this") - the fact that you hate an individual so much that you go out of your way to pretend you think a positive message is a negative one... it says more about you than her.

popper
popper

My god. Finally I'm able to read an opinion that I can relate 100%. Keep it going, Tom. Speak. Don't let them shut your mouth.

SheenAyrton
SheenAyrton

@AlyssaStarz16 "If she made you want to die you would've been dead by now because you hear half of these songs everywhere. So she obviously doesn't make you want to die. "


Oh dear. It seems the IQ of some of the Beyonce fans is a little lacking. You are not meant to read the headline of the article literally. It's a figure of speech. And in this instance I agree with the author - Beyonce's music is so bad it would make me keel over if I had to suffer through her ludicrous album.

AlyssaStarz16
AlyssaStarz16

How the hell do you say that when you've never met the woman, let alone been in the same state at the same time as her

SheenAyrton
SheenAyrton

@Daylight Amy  You don't even know what feminism is, like so many other young people in this day and age. What is classed as 'feminism' today is a rather hateful, hypocritical movement being affirmed mainly by younger middle-class, almost exclusively white, Western-women. The true feminism of the 60s, 70s and 80s was much closer to Humanism than the abomination that it has morphed into today, but it absolutely was feminism.


Tayama
Tayama

@Daylight Amy  At what point did Tom imply 'the only true woman is a woman who reaffirms self-hate'? Also, how is 'I woke up like this, I woke up like this' sending a positive message? Beyonce has a crew behind her to look the way she does and maintaining her image is a huge part of her job. If anything, I think the line 'I woke up like this' sets unrealistic expectations of female beauty. Maybe the line should be 'I worked hard at this'. I don't wake up in the morning looking flawless like Beyonce, and I don't think even she wakes up in the morning looking 'flawless like Beyonce' either.


Side note; sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy.

NonnaColangela
NonnaColangela

@MarioAntonioReynoso @MarioAntonioReynoso  "folky or boring" Actually, beyonce is the epitome of boring. Boring sameness.   Same as herself, repeating the same thing again and again, within songs & from album to album.  Same as others, plagiarizing, copying & following the formula that every female pop star since Madonna has followed.  Yawn.


I was happy to see someone admit this empress has no clothes for a change.

TheMadStork83
TheMadStork83

@AlyssaStarz16 First off, you're stupid.  I never realized you had to meet a person to determine if they're a good singer or not.  As far as what Taran said regarding Beyonce being a bitch to her team, research former members of Beyonce's team and how they did a shoot on Beyonce being a bitch.


"Ignorance is curable, but stupid is forever"  

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