Originally published in Redbrick (redbrickpaper.co.uk)
Today, I’d like to debate the worthiness of Beyoncé as a class-act female icon of 2011. Is she merely a sexy singer who shakes her sexy thing? Or is she (steady yourselves) the pinnacle of womanhood?
My excitement is all in lieu of recent events – namely the spectacular unveiling of her baby bump at the VMAs. After an energetic, hair-whipping performance, the glittering tuxedo jacket was unbuttoned to reveal her well-kept secret. I love a woman with a plan. It was during an interview with Piers Morgan that Beyoncé declared ‘I always said I would have a baby at 30.’ This was quickly followed up with ‘but I also said I was going to retire at 30…I am not retiring, I tell you.’ A woman who plans her future and sets her sights starchily on that vision is admirable, to say the least. Here she is, having just turned 30, with a wee Beyoncé-Jay on the way and a career spiralling beyond belief. She has ambition in abundance.
Another thing Ms Knowles possesses is discretion. Not once have I read of a Beyoncé and Jay-Z scandal in the papers – and the couple have been together (they married in a private ceremony in 2008 after dating for nearly six years) for a celebrity aeon. The international star does not Tweet, for crying out loud. Whilst this must make her publicity team furious, you cannot help but respect the control she demands over her private life.
And all of these reasons are a pittance in comparison with her career path. Yes, she has made her money utilising both vocal and ‘aesthetic’ talents (I’m sure if I looked like her, I’d be on my way to a few platinum albums, too). Nevertheless she has made artistic leaps and bounds that have taken her beyond of her ‘bootylicious’ beginnings and elevated her performance to a whole new level.
The music she produces is unique, the voice is unquestionable, and her videos are wells of inspiration. The video to her latest single, ‘Countdown’, is crafted with unpredictable references to Belgian ballet ‘Rosas Danst Rosas’, Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Funny Face’, Brigitte Bardot, ‘Flashdance’, Andy Warhol, Dianna Ross… A brave selection of creative frameworks that push Beyoncé past reams of uninspired, been-there-done-that performers. I have not been able to stop watching this video. Please. Jump to YouTube, right now.
Some may think it’s too far to consider Beyoncé iconoclastic. However, a strong and thoughtful singer is better role model material than most celebrities figures we watch, subsisting on careers of reality television appearances. Whilst not one public figure will denounce being ‘grounded’, and believing in strength of character and independence, few will walk the walk so adamantly as Beyoncé does.
Admittedly, she was born with an (almost unfair) amount of talent – however, she could not have achieved the test-of-time career that she has without sheer hard graft and principles of steel.
Beyoncé wants to run the world? I’d more than happily see her elected.