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Beyonce: The New Queen of Pop and R&B?
She’s beautiful, she’s rich, and everyone loves her. You want to be jealous, but her upbeat music brings such joy into your life, that you can’t help but love her, too.
She’s Beyonce Knowles, better known simply as Beyonce: singer, model, actress, record producer, and permanent member of just about every variation of every Most Beautiful People list worldwide. Her most recent album has been firing hit after hit onto the Billboard Hot 100. These days, it seems, you simply can’t turn on the radio without getting an earful of Beyonce belting it out. You want to change the station, you really do, but dammit, that song’s just too damn catchy.
No, perfect and envy-inspiring as she may be, you simply can’t hate Beyonce… or can you? Let’s have a hunt for skeletons in this glamour icon’s Chanel-lined closet. Surely we’ll find a reason to hate her… or, at the very least, find something cringe-worthy in her past that makes her seem a little more human.
Whatever it is we’re looking for, we won’t find it in her childhood. Beyonce was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in a happy, well-off family. Her sexy but unusual name comes from her mother’s maiden name, Beyince. Her father, Mathew Knowles, supported the Knowles family on a cushy six-figure salary job selling multi-million dollar equipment at Xerox. Her mother, Tina Beyince, owned a hair salon. By age seven, Beyonce was in dance school and giving solo performances in her local church choir. Nope, we won’t find any evidence of hardship here: Beyonce was a child prodigy. Her dance instructor spotted a gold mine in Beyonce and started enrolling her in song and dance competitions. Of these competitions, Beyonce won a whopping thirty.
Hmph. And to think the best you or I could do at that age was a gold star on a spelling test.
But Beyonce’s story gets better—or, for jealous readers, worse. As a pubescent, Beyonce had already formed her first singing group, a quarted called Girl’s Tyme. The members included Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson (Beyonce’s childhood best friend) and LeToya Luckett. Girl’s Tyme performed at several local events, then entered Star Search—and lost.
Remember when you were a child, and you tried for something and didn’t get it, and your dad used to give you that motivational speech about how it wasn’t winning or losing so much as how it was you’d played the game? Remember how you thought your dad was so great, and you were the luckiest kid in the world? Well, you weren’t. Beyonce was. When her dad learned of her disappointment, he didn’t waste time on a silly speech that would only prove itself increasingly useless as time and more disappointments passed by. He quit his job and decided to devote his life to make little Beyonce’s dream come true.
In fairness, Knowles family life wasn’t perfect at this time. The Knowles suddenly found themselves with half the income they’d had before (half of a six-figure salary, remember, so do the math before you reach for the Kleenex). The worst part was, they had to move into an apartment! Luckily, the Knowles family nightmare ended almost as soon as it had begun. In 1996, Columbia Records signed Girl’s Tyme. The rest is history (but we’re going to go through it all anyway).
Someone at Columbia Records had the foresight to change the name Girl’s Tyme to the much-sexier Destiny’s Child. The group hit number one with their very first single, “No, No, No Part 2.” People liked this song so much that no one even thought to ask what had happened to “No, No, No Part 1.” Instead, they chanted “Yes, yes, yes” to Destiny’s Child, buying millions of copies of their records worldwide and not even noticing when LeToya’s departure reduced the quartet to a trio.
Destiny’s Child was one of the top R&B or pop acts of the turn of the millennium. They spawned more girl-power hits than the Spice Girls, belting out Independent Woman anthems like Bills, Bills, Bills; Jumpin’ Jumpin’ (ladies, leave your man at home!), Survivor, and indeed, Independent Woman Part 1. This latter song was the theme from Charlie’s Angels. (Still no word on Parts 2 or 3, however.) Destiny’s Child are also credited with coining some of the most notable slang terms of the turn of the turn of the millennium, including, but not limited to, “Bugaboo” and “Bootylicious.”
All this plus Platinum-selling albums and Grammy awards before the age of twenty. People would have started wanting to hate Beyonce, did she not have to split her success with Kelly and LaTivia (and, when LaTivia left, Michelle Williams).
Until 2003, that is. That was the year that Beyonce released Dangerously in Love, her first solo album, a dangerous success that simultaneously topped charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The first single, Crazy in Love, was the unofficial anthem for the summer of 2003. One simply could not walk down a street anywhere in the world without hearing Beyonce cheerfully proclaiming her love for this unknown muse from the speakers of somebody’s car. It was a happy, energetic song, and suddenly those few people who didn’t own Destiny’s Child CDs were rushing out to buy Beyonce’s. All eyes—and ears—were on Beyonce.
But this was when the jealousy started. For one thing, Beyonce had been easy to take as part of a tantalizing trio, but now people had to admit she was sexy AND talented enough to hold her own. For another thing, rumors abounded that the muse behind Crazy in Love was none other than the reigning Apollo of R&B, Jay-Z. All those eyes on Beyonce narrowed, and slowly turned green.
Did we mention that Beyonce had only just hit legal age?
The jealously subsided around November 2004, when Beyonce rejoined Destiny’s Child to release what appears to be their final album, Destiny Fulfilled. At least this diva-in-development wasn’t the type to desert her friends. Or was she? Sure, HER destiny may have been fulfilled, but what about Destiny’s other two children? What has Kelly Rowland done since that slick duet with Nelly back in 2003? And, Michelle Williams who? After this album, Beyonce set up permanent camp in the limelight, while Kelly and Michelle skyrocketed to obscurity. Whoever named this group Destiny’s Child (as opposed to children) certainly had a lot of foresight.
The Destiny Fulfilled fiasco seemed reason enough to dislike this diva. But then, just as former fans around the world were getting ready to walk their copy of Dangerously in Love over to the nearest used CD store, something happened. Beyonce’s B-Day arrived. And we’re not just talking about her birthday on September 5 (although that, cleverly, was the album’s release date). We’re talking about the album which, to date, has sold millions of copies. B-Day is the album that graced the world with Irreplaceable, the sultry ballad in which Beyonce rocks out with the girls while telling her boyfriend to pick up his box of stuff she’s placed to the left, and reminds him not to ever get to thinking for a second he’s irreplaceable. (She even had another man on his way over in a minute, the crafty vixen.)
It’s worth mentioning that the birthday in question upon which B-Day was released was Beyonce’s twenty-fifth. For most of us, twenty-five is the year when we struggle with existential questions and start to pay off student loans. Not for Beyonce. By twenty-five, she can already lie back in her multi-million dollar home and count honors: Songwriter of the Year for 2001 (she’s the first African-American female and second female overall to achieve this one); tons of Grammys; status as the only female who has ever managed to top the U.K. and U.S. charts simultaneously; a role in the cult comedy classic, Goldmember; and repeated nods for Sexiest Woman Alive.
So, just to ensure we don’t all walk away from this article feeling like bitter, unaccomplished fools, let’s finish off by talking about some of the people who have successfully managed to dislike Beyonce, and see if we can learn from their example:
PETA. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals aren’t too impressed with Beyonce using fur in her clothing line. (Oh yeah, did we also mention she had time to start a clothing line?) Two members won an auction to dine with Beyonce, and used the occasion to confront her. Rather than respond, Beyonce had them escorted out. She also ignored PETA’s concern over her treatment of baby alligators in a recent photo shoot.
Greg Walker. The CEO of Icon Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Beyonce, claiming he’d help her set up multi-million endorsement deals and has yet to see a penny. Apparently, the judge has trouble hating Beyonce, too, because the Supreme Court ruled in her favor.
Beyonce’s backup dancers. Beyonce forced them to pay for their own flights from New York to L.A. for rehearsals, then told them if they want to work for her, they’d have to settle for a weekly salary of $400. Apparently, generosity isn’t yet on Beyonce’s list of achievements.
People at the Golden Globes. We’re not sure exactly who yet, but we figure SOMEBODY must have taken offence to the fact that Daddy Knowles called Beyonce’s no-win a mockery of Martin Luther King’s memory, especially considering that three black actors had taken home awards that very night.
There you have it. Beyonce isn’t perfect—only her life is. But the next time you find yourself seething over this sexy songstress’ sickening surplus of luck, console yourself with this: at least your name isn’t Solange Knowles. After all, better to be a bitter, unaccomplished fool who watches too much MTV than to be Beyonce’s little sister.