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On February 12 earlier this year, I fought my housemates for the television remote, claimed the comfy sofa and forced my poor boyfriend to watch the 59th Grammy Awards with me. Though I claimed as a Media and Cultural Studies student it was relevant to my degree and therefore I had no choice but to watch it, really I’m just a little bit basic. I wanted to see who everyone was wearing on the red carpet, I wanted to watch the incredibly theatrical and impressive performances through out the show, I wanted to see what James Corden would get up to as host of the awards, and I wanted to see who would win at one of the most glamorous and publicised events on the Hollywood calendar.
When Adele’s “25” was named Album of the Year, I must admit I felt slightly disappointed. As much as I love Adele (the woman really is incredible, but that’s for a different article), Beyoncé had been robbed of the honour for her stunning visual album, “Lemonade”. And it turns out Adele agreed with me as she later declared, “What the fuck does she have to do to win Album of the Year?”
In an emotional acceptance speech that was possibly more of a rejection speech, Adele took to the stage saying, “I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé and this album, to me, the ‘Lemonade’ album was so monumental”.
And it was in that incredibly emotional moment that my boyfriend, who – up until that point – had been distracted by his phone slumped on the sofa next to me, simply said, “I really don’t get Beyoncé”.
I’m fairly sure I audibly gasped. How could he not ‘get’ Beyoncé? But, as I soon discovered, apparently he’s not alone. In fact, quite a few people seem to be confused as to the Bey-hive hype. While they may not outright dislike Beyoncé, these individuals just don’t understand why others fall at her feet.
So, as I explained to my boyfriend, let me try and help you understand…
While I could mention her Superbowl XLVII halftime show performance, any of her albums or her social media presence – all justify her status as Queen B – I will instead focus on her highly anticipated performance at the 59th Grammys, as that was all I could show my boyfriend at the time but even that was more than enough.
Usually full of bootylicious choreography, this performance was Beyoncé’s first since announcing her pregnancy with twins, so one could be forgiven for thinking she might be limited in her jellytastic abilities. Instead, Beyoncé made her pregnancy the focus of her performance. Tina Knowles introduced her daughter to the stage, announcing, “With a mother’s pride, ladies and gentleman, Beyoncé”, for a medley of Love Drought and Sandcastles from the “Lemonade” album.
Utilising a spoken word introduction, video projections, a dramatic set covered in flowers and a female only cast of backing dancers, Beyoncé appeared as a vision in gold with an opulent headdress for what can only be described as an artistic and religious tribute to motherhood. It was beautifully moving and just as Adele had stated, empowering to black women and all women.
And that’s the real secret to getting Beyoncé. In an industry in which artists are asked to sacrifice their privacy and submit themselves to intense scrutiny on not just their music and their art, but every aspect of their personal lives too, Beyoncé remains for the most part a mystery. Instead of allowing the paparazzi to present that, she chooses to delicately reveal herself in a light she dictates and has control over. She teaches women everywhere to be empowering. How can you not ‘get’ that?