Beyoncé Assignment – How successful have your chosen texts been for their industry
Beyonce (born Beyonce Giselle Knowles, September 4th 1981) is an american pop/rnb singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and also a future mother. She was named Billboard’s top female artist of the 2000’s in Feburary 2009 as well as their Artist of the Millenium in May 2011. She was the Record Industrys association of America top certified and best-selling overall artist of the decade and is currently one of the most prominent female artists in music with record sales surpassing 130 million. She also holds the record for the most viewed female viral video with her well-choreographed ‘Single Ladies’, the video holds over 100,000,000 hits on YouTube and started an internet sensation with many parodies and spoofs shortly following.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé started performing in local competitions at age seven and formed the girls group, ‘Girl’s Tyme’ with help from her parents, she was first signed by Matthew Knowles, a American music executive and father of Beyonce, and in 1997, with the support of Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, ‘Girls Tyme’ eventually became Destinys Child with Beyoncé being the bow of the group.
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During their 9 year spell, Destinys Child conquered the music industry with their hard hitting, diva-like performances and gained recognition globally, their group name is now synonymous with the 90’s. They carved out spots on both the r&b and pop charts and their first release ‘bills bills bills’ which was the first release from their second album reached the U.K top charts, bills, bills bills in a an upbeat song which talks about the troubles of having a male gold digger racking up the, telephone bills, automobills, etc. The song is still in modern culture today as popular TV show Glee performed a cover on the show in 2011. The song takes a swing at the male population for hounding money off your other halves, you could say that bills, bills, bills is mildly post- feminist as it states the independence of the women and separates traditional shared income of a marriage type relationship between a male & female.
Destinys child were hugely influential to the teen population, destiny’s child started a diva craze, you could say this was beneficial as more teenage girls became independent and strong minded.
However, the success of their group wasn’t without group disputes between the band members, the band changed around frequently as disagreements took place, there was a lot of speculation that father and manager of Beyoncé, Matthew Knowles favoured his daughter over the other group members, this accusation lead to the dismissal of LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett from the group, however despite the recurrent changing of the band members the group always managed to stay afloat.
The accusation regarding Beyoncé’s father I believe may had some truth in, it has become evident that Beyoncé always appeared the be at the ’head’ or the ‘top’ of the group in pictures and videos and I believe Matthew Knowles as an already well-connected music executive had the knowledge to sculpt the band members share of success as he saw fit, on the other hand, Beyoncé founded the group so therefore It could be argued that her success is righteous, as she built the group and made it what is today.
In 2002, Destiny’s Child announced a hiatus which allowed it’s members to attain individual success, Beyoncé’ had featured in the popular comedy sequel ‘Austin Powers’ and the other band members were interested in releasing their own solo albums, during this hiatus Beyoncé released her largely successful debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, this album remains Beyoncé’s most successful album reaching double platinum status, placing number one on the US billboard charts and signalling her viability as a solo artist. In 2004, the band ended their hiatus and announced a fourth and final album ‘destiny fulfilled’, and protruding the disbanding of the band in 2005, her success continued to rise, her second solo album, B’Day, which was released in 2006, debuted at number on the US billboard charts, and her third solo album, I Am Sacha Fierce which introduced the alter ego ‘sacha fierce’ was released in 2008 and received several Grammy Award nominations.
For the first text, I am going to analyse Beyoncé’s live performance at Glastonbury. Glastonbury is notorious for it’s ear-pleasing acts; the festival has one the largest green field, open-air music and performing arts event in the world. Glastonbury has hosted a wide variety of acts including Gorillaz, Oasis, and this year Beyoncé headlined, changing history, as she has become the first female ever to headline. Glastonbury has been operating for 40 years so this is quite an achievement, and the crowd which hit up to one hundred and fifty thousand people showcased how big of an event this was for Beyoncé.
Beyoncé’s headline slot provoked a lot of fundamental festival go-ers to question whether Beyoncé belonged at Glastonbury, it was argued that she was too mainstream however, there was more curiosity of how she was going to perform rather than ill-judgment taking place.
Beyoncé’s performance started out with fireworks erupting across the stage, with her rising out on stage on a hydraulic lift whilst singing her biggest hit, crazy in love.
This was a huge introduction to what proved to be a compelling set, after crazy in love, she plunges into Single Ladies, which was widely acclaimed for it’s choreography in her video, which she also delivered on the stage, the song was an instant crowd pleaser which sparked up much excitement. Beyoncé also performed a handful of covers, she did her own rendition of Alanis Morisettes’s ‘you outta know’, Kings of Leons ‘sex on fire’ and Etta James, ‘at last’. Her sex is on fire cover really determined her place as the headliner in Glastonbury, the original was alternative rock chart topper and with her cover she was able to keep the raw quality of the original song and combine the sexiness Beyoncé is notorious for to make a truly special combination for the crowd.
Furthermore, the connection she created with the crowd held an importance on making her performance flourish, she performed Halo with footage of Glastonbury and it’s dwellers covered in mud, she also made a humble gesture to the crowd as she shouts, utterly delighted “you are witnessing a dream! I always wanted to be a rock star”. Beyoncé brought a lot of energy to the table in her performance, she incorporated much of the crowd into the songs, with fans singing to the well-known lyrics to her songs, I’m sure even the most stubborn of rock purist were tempted to join in, the inclusion of Bristol rapper Tricky left fans and festival watchers dumbfounded, it seemed as if he didn’t have a set role in the performance and there was much confusion around this, it was speculated that Beyoncé set up to embarrass Tricky as he made negative comments on jay-z playing at Glastonbury in 2008, the theory was that Beyoncé and jay z were aware of these comments, and as revenge, Tricky was asked to perform a massive attack medley (the group tricky was in) on stage, but his cue never came in and this ultimately made him look disconcerted and disoriented, if this is true this could maybe display the ruthlessness of Beyoncé to get revenge in such a petty way, I think this is more Sasha Fierce in action rather than Beyoncé Knowles and this move could also display her cutting edge business side as well.
Glastonbury was also aired live on the BBC, the airing attracted 18.9 million viewers, these figures are the highest it’s been for Glastonbury so this marked a milestone for Glastonbury and demonstrated the amount of talent in the line-up. Special filming techniques were used to give the TV viewers a genuine Glastonbury experience, certain filming measures were used to produce such a feeling, such as shots over the shoulder of Beyoncé, there was shot showing the outskirts of the arena which gave the viewer an idea of the masses of people that were there and the power the performance included. Some shots were close-ups of the audience, having a good time, the majority of the fans shown were female, which shows the target audience and the importance and independence of women which is a subject Beyoncé sings about generally in her songs.
To conclude, I believe the Beyoncé’s Glastonbury performance held all the qualities she is notorious for, and even more. To gain the support of the many prejudging Glastonbury purists, who believed that Beyoncé was too mainstream would have been hard to win over but I think she performed so flawlessly that it is hard for anyone to think up any negatives for her set, her Kings Of Leon cover was an ideal move as this would have attracted the conventional glatso purist and alternative rockers in the arena. The kings of Leon cover was also appropriate for her, as they played at the Glastonbury in June 2008, they have also been described as a incredibly egotistic band but a front-runner in their genre, Beyoncé shares the same characteristics, Beyoncé’s song, ‘Ego’ illustrates Beyoncé’s egotistic nature and Beyoncé being a prominent artist of R&B just represents how perfect this cover was for her, the cover attracted great reception and her overall performance through the night was impeccable.
Destiny’s Child’s music video for ‘Survivor’ is the second text I am going to analyse, Survivor was released in Feburary 2001 with Darren Grant directing this particular Destinys child video, this adds to the list of DC videos he has directed with No, no, no’ and Bills, bills, bills’. Survivor, turned out to be a very suceessful video, winning the 2001 MTV video music award for best R&B video.
The song fits into an conventional R&B video, the video includes well choreographs dance moves with back-up dancers to support them, the video also has much proactive dress wear to make the scene more sexy, and diva-like.
The video cuts to the beat like most R&B video, this adds more sass and feistiness to Destiny’s child image which seems to be a recurring characteristic as with their other video (bills, bils, bills etc.) the same provocative clothing and similar video cuts sync’d with the beat, are present, this gives the viewer an idea of what to expect with Destiny’s Child, and helps the public associate the group with conventional characteristics.
In Survivor there are also many close-ups used throughout the video of the group members, the close-ups often cut quickly, and the shots aren’t just directed are their face, but suggestive parts of their bodies such as their bum and legs, this objectifies the women and portrays them as ‘sex symbols’ this does not link in with the ‘strong’ and ‘independent’ description of Destiny’s Child, however, I think the aim of these video shots were to attract the main demographic of the video, teenage girls to be more like destiny’s child and to move in a provocative manner.
The clothes in the video were also provocative, in the beginning the group is shown walking along the shore in torn, revealing clothes, this displays their use of their gender and sexuality to gain power and promote themselves as a group, the groups target market are teenage girls but I think they have purposefully made super-sexy video in order to attract the male audience as well.
The music video also shows, the status of the group members in destiny child, it seemed Beyoncé had the most the most time on shot, followed by Kelly Rowland, this was important for Beyoncé to do, because if she is to make it as a solo artist in the future she must stand out from the group, she had the most lyrics, and her voice is emphasized when the band simultaneously sing ‘SURVIVOR’ in the chorus, this was important and would have been shaped by Beyoncé’s dad Matthew, as Mr. Knowles would know that if Beyoncé was to become successful as a solo artist, she would have to obtain notoriety outside of Destiny’s Child.
The final text I will explore is Beyoncé’s album ‘I Am… Sacha Fierce’, this album introduces her alter-ego, Sacha fierce, whom she describes as being ‘too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, soo sexy’, Beyoncé has stated that she transforms into this alter-ego whilst she is onstage performing. She also states that she isn’t like that in real life and as fearless as her, which suggests that Beyoncé is kind of a scapegoat for Beyoncé, when she needs to provide the public a grandiose performance which is similar to that of many artists in this genre, that is full of artists who constantly struggle to outdo one another in performance, music, and looks, this explains the current clothing state in modern R&B artist which seems like a contest to wear the most provocative attire.
Sacha Fierce also offers Beyoncé a safety net, with Sacha fierce she can take her music into a new direction and if this new direction is a miss, then Sacha is the artist who will flop as an artist, with the same principle, Beyoncé can now decide to be more corrupt with her choices, which offers Beyoncé psychological advantages which won’t affect the morality of ‘Beyoncé’, similarly the media may connect Sacha to a certain scandal rather than Beyoncé so Sacha works as kind of a safety net for her.
Videophone which features on ‘I am.. Sacha Fierce’ seems to be the epitome of this alter ego, the song features sexy clothing, with a considerable amount of cleavage showing in many shots, the song also features a lot of exaggerated gun play, this is a dangerous move for Beyoncé as this could glorify guns to influential children, this also odd as normally weapons aren’t acceptable in music videos with rap stars for example so for this to pass censorship could suggest that Beyoncé are in huge control of the music industry and that she is in much power.
To conclude, Beyoncé’s success has been phenomenal over the decade, critics claiming her to be the queen of R&B, I think that Beyoncé being at a position of power with the music industry (her place with jay-z) offers her to succeed even further after her R&B artist expires to a prosperous job outside that certain field, I do think also that Beyoncé has influenced many young teens negatively through her music and videos, with her constantly relying on suggestive and sexy dance moves in her videos connects her looks to her success, this adds to the list of attributes women need to be deemed as beautiful, big butts etc.
However, Beyoncé offers young teens relatively good life advice in her songs, in Single Ladies she promotes just having a good time after breaking up with someone who didn’t want to make a commitment but is agitated when she talks to other men, the handful of songs she has which do offer sound advice nearly makes up for the negatives she influenced to the world.