You may have noticed, if you saw our Superbowl Halftime coverage, that we're quite enamored with Beyonce. We said things like: "If there is a more compelling pop performer than Beyonce on Earth right now, we have yet to find them," and: "Bey is living, kicking proof that wearing revealing, leathery outfits doesn't have to mean looking like a weak-willed sex toy." We are believers in Beyonce and we are believers in Destiny's Child. So what the holy hell is Beyonce thinking with this new single, "Bow Down"?
We've loved Beyonce so much because she is a superstar who appeals to the mainstream, but never compromises her values. And, more than that, she is a woman who actively pushes for the advancement of other women. She has an all-female band. She writes songs called "Run the World (Girls)". And before that, she wrote songs called "Independent Women" and "Survivor."
Beyonce, whether she directly identifies herself as such, is a feminist. She's always been a feminist. She's always made a big deal about the importance of women having their own income, so they never have to rely on a man, or be under a man's control. In addition to her overwhelming vocal and dance talent, these are the things that have made her truly special in a sea of pop-tarts. Which is why we're taking such issue with "Bow Down."
The issue is not the song. Beyonce doesn't release songs that aren't catchy. She doesn't release songs that aren't interesting creatively. But "Bow Down," lyrically, goes against everything that her last 20-plus years in the spotlight have emphasized -- and, oh boy, it rubs us the wrong way.
Pop music in 2013 is not interested in the rights or the wants of women. Divas are not interested in other women, the way that Beyonce always has been. Divas are interested in themselves, and most modern female pop stars are more interested in presenting themselves as sex objects than backing up their fellow ladies or pushing women's issues (*cough* -- Rihanna -- *cough*). Beyonce has been our pop saving grace for a while.
In her recent HBO documentary, Life Is But A Dream, Bey asserted that: "I'm always thinking about women and what we need to hear. It's difficult being a woman. It's so much pressure. We need that support and we need that escape sometimes." Later in the film, she said "I need my sisters." Even later, she emphasized (quite rightly) that: "Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don't get the same opportunities as men do. Or money for that matter."
So when Beyonce releases a song that has lyrics that include: "I know when you were little girls/ You dreamt of being in my world/ Don't forget it, don't forget it/ Bow down, bitches", it alarms the absolute shit out of us. How did this happen? Did Jay-Z and Kanye wander into the studio during a vulnerable moment of hers, and convince her that adopting a stupid rap-centric superiority complex was a good idea? How the hell is this even Beyonce? How is this giving her fans what they want? It's a goddamn bitch-slap.