She May Be Our Queen, But Here’s Why I Believe Beyoncé Is Still Ridiculously Underrated
"... stop assuming that because someone has experienced mass success that they don’t deserve or aspire to experience more."
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In case you haven’t noticed, we've been blessed with another phenomenal superstar.
Every decade a juggernaut comes around, and through sheer talent and hard work captivates the world. In the '80s it was Michael Jackson with his album Thriller. In the '90s it was Michael Jordan with basketball. Today, we have the 37-year old entertainer, Beyoncé. The grace, talent and hard work of Mrs. Carter is unmatched. It is clear that Beyoncé is a legend already. But although she is often referred to as the "G.O.A.T." (Greatest Of All Time) and “The Queen,” Beyoncé is still underrated.
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In the Pharell produced banger “Nice,” featured on the Everything Is Love album, Beyoncé raps:
“Patiently waiting for my demise cause my success can't be quantified / If I gave two f**ks about streaming numbers, would have put 'Lemonade' up on Spotify”.
It is clear that Mrs. Carter doesn’t care about streaming numbers, but charts and accolades have their place. Sadly, charts and streaming numbers haven’t been that fair to Bey.
Did you know that Beyoncé’s last solo number one single was “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” a song that was released 11 years ago? In her 20-plus year career, Beyoncé has only had five solo number one singles.
- “Crazy In Love” (from Dangerously in Love, 7/12/03, 8 weeks)
- “Baby Boy” (from Dangerously In Love, 10/4/03, 9 weeks)
- “Check on It” (bonus track from B’Day, 2/4/06, 5 weeks)
- “Irreplaceable” (from B’Day, 12/16/06/,10 weeks)
- “Single Ladies (Put A Ring on It)” (from I AM...Sasha Fierce, 10/31/08, 4 weeks)
This is a great list of hits, but so many other terrific Beyoncé songs are left out. What about “Love On Top,” “Drunk In Love" or “Formation?” The 2011 VMA “Love On Top” performance showcasing Bey’s pregnant belly that broke Twitter would’ve been a great time for the song to go number one. The sexy “Drunk In Love” performance that commenced the 2014 Grammys should’ve easily pushed that single to the top spot, but it was instead blocked by Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Following the controversial 2016 SuperBowl Performance of “Formation,” it's hard to believe the song didn’t go number one after all of that headlining press and the impactful music video.
Back in the days of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Prince, an artist was able to release music and experience success based on art alone. Today, there are social media dance challenges, streaming and other nuances of the music industry that get in the way of commercial success. Too often, many fantastic songs never get the commercial success they deserve because of the new ways that music is experienced. Unfortunately, an artist like Beyoncé, who doesn’t do TV interviews, starts beef to get press or is interactive with fans on Twitter, is negatively affected by today’s music business.
In April of 2018, Beyoncé was the first African-American woman to headline the Coachella music festival. In addition to this record-breaking fact about Coachella, the 105-minute set attracted 458,000 simultaneous global viewers at its peak, ranking it as most viewed Coachella performance ever, according to a YouTube spokeswoman. Many Beyhive fans in the states stayed up late into the night to get a glimpse of the iconic performer. The awe-inspiring night set the internet on fire, giving birth to the term “Beychella,” a mashup of Beyoncé and Coachella, inspired by how impressed everyone was with the concert.
The next year in 2019, Beyoncé released HOMECOMING, a beautiful Netflix film that gave fans an intimate look at how the incredible Coachella performance came to be. Unfortunately, as Beyoncé was making headlines about her Coachella film, fans in anticipation for the 2019 headliner, Ariana Grande, began referring to Coachella as #Arichella on Twitter. It’s insulting that music fans would refer to Coachella as #Arichella in the same way that fans proclaimed #Beychella, as if the two sets were congruent.
Ariana is a talent for sure and arguably one of the best vocalist and songwriters of this generation, but she is no Beyoncé. To be quite honest, Ariana’s set for her Coachella performance was simply a revamp of her Sweetner World Tour with a few cameos from special guests, that included N’SYNC (minus Justin Timberlake), Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber.
What Beyoncé did during her Coachella set with HBCU culture, reuniting with Destiny's Child and the effort it took for her to perform after giving birth to twins can’t be compared. By comparing Beyoncé to a newer artist such as Ariana Grande, with terms like #Arichella, dilutes what Beyoncé did and should stop immediately. You can’t compete where you don’t compare, and by comparing anyone to someone who works as hard and executes as flawlessly as Beyoncé is just wrong.
Album of the Year at the Grammy’s
The Grammys’ critically-favored R&B and Hip-Hop artists are rewarded in their respective genre categories, while rarely taking home juggernaut awards such as Album of the Year or Song of the Year. Time and time again we have seen Beyoncé lose the Album of the Year Grammy to white artists.
In 2010, Bey lost to Taylor Swift for her album Fearless. Taylor was just 20 years old at the time, making her the youngest winner of the award in Grammy history. In 2015 after releasing the iTunes phenom that was BEYONCÉ, she lost the award to Beck for his album, Morning Phase. Most recently in 2017, Lemonade lost the award to Adele’s 25.
“What the (expletive) does (Beyoncé) have to do to win album of the year?” was the question posed by Adele in a press room following her win for Album of the Year. She was correct for asking such a compelling question that made others scratch their heads.
While Beyoncé may have only five solo number one singles to her name, no one can deny the cultural impact that her albums have on the music industry. It was in 2007 when Bey released her B’Day anthology video album, which featured 13 classic videos for each song on her sophomore album. After a rocky rollout of her fourth album, 4, Beyonce came back stronger than ever with her self-titled visual album that completely changed the way albums are released. Again with the strong visuals, in 2016 her album Lemonade was released as an HBO special, pulling in 787,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic according to TV by the Numbers.
When Beyoncé drops an album, the world stops to see what she has to say and hear what she has put together. There hasn’t been a single album rollout that has touched the execution of Beyoncé’s in this generation. The type of work that Bey has done with her albums should be celebrated and acknowledged. The Grammy’s should be ashamed of themselves for not honoring Beyoncé with their Album of the Year trophy.
Giving artists their flowers while they’re here rarely happens in music and that should change. It is exhausting hearing journalists refer to Beyoncé as Queen Bay, (it is clearly Queen Bee, like BEE-Yonce. Duh.) constantly rave about her albums and cultural impact, then not get played on radio as much as younger artists. It’s disappointing to watch Beyoncé be exploited throughout the night to keep viewers watching at the Grammys, only to rob her of well-deserved awards. It’s frustrating to see viral challenges captivate news outlets and propel songs to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 while negating artistically stronger material.
We must also stop assuming that because someone has experienced mass success that they don’t deserve or aspire to experience more. Arguments based on “she has enough awards” or “she doesn’t need any more validation” are dehumanizing and unfair. Beyoncé is a human being with feelings and an ego just like everyone else. Surely she wants to hear her name on the lips of a presenter when she is up for a big award just like any other artist. How disappointing must she feel to sit in her seat time and time again at the Grammys when she’s nominated for a big award and not win? It’s not fair.
In the words of Kanye West: “When we see greatness, we have to acknowledge it.'' Give that woman her radio play, her Album of the Year trophy and her Oscar. For what she has put out in this past year, she is worthy of it all. Moving forward, it would be refreshing to see Beyoncé reach new accolades and critical claim because she honestly deserves it all and more.