I got a hypochondriac flow that get real ill, get nauseous to the beat, I spit sick at will.

Beyonce the Annoying; or, Why Blond Hair Does Not a Star Make

Beyonce Knowles is the most annoying presence in pop culture. Everything about her is so glaringly artificial that it continually baffles me how people identify with and adore her so much.

But of course, I understand that the gay men love how extra she is. They love her writhing around in the black dress in the video for Me, Myself and I. They love her diva trip at awards shows, big hair and oversinging galore. They love the champagne glass image in Naughty Girl. They love the romance we all aren’t supposed to know about with Jay-Z, ryde or die and all.

And I understand how little girls really believe Bootylicious is about female empowerment. I understand that they love the “deep” songs like Girl, Sweet Sixteen and Gift From Virgo. I get that they love the catty “realness” of Nasty Girl. I get that they identify with Beyonce because she enacts images of female strength.

What I don’t get is how people, critics mostly, seem unwilling to be honest about how calculated and yet how astonishing Beyonce’s growth as a persona and an artist have grown concurrently. As big as Beyonce has gotten, she manages to strive for complexity and honesty in her work, something that other young women in her position (Christina and Britney) only pay lip service to.

At the end of 2003, Beyonce’s stunning debut album, Dangerously in Love, made the list of best albums of the year by Rolling Stone and they said that (essentially) the album was only good for the singles. This bothered me tremendously. Dangerously in Love worked because it made Beyonce into a three-dimensional woman with fears, hopes and real strength. The meat of the album lies between Hip-Hop Star and Speechless (a song so brilliant, so subtle, and so emotionally potent, I can’t believe no one has discussed it). With each song in this little suite, Beyonce depicts with clarity and believability her own feelings from her drive (Hip-Hop Star) to her willingness to wait (Yes) to her unbridled passion (Speechless). Yet, again and again the diva trips of Crazy in Love, Naughty Girl, etc got all the attention.

Beyonce as the Jezebel in the increasingly smaller and smaller clothes is far more interesting to the power structure. Her growth as a songwriter and a person is not. This is readily apparent in the critical pass the new Destiny’s Child album, Destiny Fulfilled, continues to receive. The album is maudlin, plodding and rushed. The arrangements are boring, featuring Beyonce’s voice prominently, even though this is supposed to be a group. It marginalizes Michelle and, interestingly, sets up a fascinating tension between Kelly Rowland’s more emotive singing style and Beyonce’s bombast.

The deficiencies of the album are ignored because what the public, what the power structure loves is in full effect on the singles, Lose My Breath and Soldier–the diva trip. The stilettos, the struts, the homothugs as window dressing. And right in the center is Beyonce, blond hair a-flying and completely oblivious to her surroundings. This is the Beyonce that the public and critics love. She is completely focused on the camera, her vapid persona in full effect. She muggs for the camera even if the focus is on Kelly or Michelle (as short a time as that is).

Everything about this Beyonce is designed specifically to court the mainstream consumer who is socialized to see black women always and only as sexual objects (esp. if they are light-skinned and have some Caucasian features). She’s the lightest of the girls, she’s blonde, and she rattles off the meaningless sound bytes in interview like the pro she is. She’s a tailor-made star and it all just seems too obvious to me.

White folks love her body, it’s thin but still “black” (read=big booty). They like that she wants to be blonde. She’s exotic! But not “too” much. Right?

It’s offensive.

Her being singled out was ordained by Daddy Matthew because he was shrewd enough to know that although Kelly has the more versatile voice she wouldn’t draw the attention and awe that Beyonce would with her lighter complexion. He understands the color-struck black bourgeous. He understands the white racist patriarchy as well. He understood, even when the girls were adolescents, that the children of rich blacks and whites would be drawn to Beyonce because she was lighter. So he made it easier. He bleached her hair. He put her in front. He let her write songs.

What probably surprised Daddy Matthew was that his baby girl turned out to be a gifted songwriter and arranger. He’ll probably kill anyone who would insinuate that he didn’t know what he had in Beyonce as a full-bodied artist, but it’s probably true.

Her arranging of the vocals on the Survivor album is among some of the best in recent memory. The songs themselves are complete drivel, but to hear how gorgeous she, Kelly and Michelle sound on Sexy Daddy, Apple Pie La Mode and most notably on their gorgeous cover of Emotions is to hear what is great about vocal groups. To hear how effectively she explores love and identity on Dangerously in Love is to see a nascent talent beginning to bloom. And to hear just how much she respects the voices of her groupmates on If and Through With Love (which is clearly the best original song DC3 ever recorded) from Destiny Fulfilled is exquisite, but ultimately is a mixed blessing. The songs are brilliant, but it only makes listening to the rest of the album with its messy arrangements and maudlin lyricism (Cater 2 You anybody?) a disappointment.

People talk and joke about and hate on Beyonce because she is driven and clearly meant to be the star. But does anyone wonder if Beyonce knows any other way of being? It’s hard to not feel entitled when everyone tells you–and has told you all your life–that you are entitled. It’s hard to imagine that Beyonce is truly aware of just how much she dominates Destiny’s Child. To her, giving Michelle all the bridges to sing probably seems really fair. And there is no one around her to tell her that it really isn’t.

I think what is sad about stars like Beyonce is that they are groomed to be a certain way for public consumption and the public knows this and the star is then trapped in a limiting image. Yet the public embarks on this love/hate relationship with that star precisely because of this image. People hate Beyonce for dominating the group, but they love her diva affectation. People hate Beyonce because she’s light skinned, but they don’t seem to love Kelly and Michelle anymore for their gorgeous chocolate complexions; they all run out to get blonde weaves.

I don’t hate Beyonce. But her persona does irk me. Me, Myself and I is a wonderful song about learning to find oneself and not look for completion in a man. But in the video Beyonce is writhing around on the floor in a tight black dress, looking stunning. What the hell does that have to do with the song? Nothing. But the “diva-ness” of the video is what people respond to, thus overshadowing and marginalizing what made that song one of the strongest on her debut.

This is irritating.

Beyonce will compromize, it seems, the integrity of her work to maintain her status as the pop princess. Me Myself and I was the third single and it was released about eight months after the album had been out. She needed to maintain momentum, the complexity of the song was not important. But she could pay lip service to it in interview, even though visually the song’s themes were not evoked in the video.

Again and again, Beyonce is made to, or decides to, oversimplify her music, oversex her image, and oversing her songs to maintain her status. We love the drama. White folks love their lil black Barbie doll.

But it would be nice if once or twice, Beyonce the truly gifted artist would emerge and show us that a black woman of integrity can be on top. That a black woman that is more than her very nice light skinned body can dominate the industry.

That a black woman with a voice actually uses it.

Originally written on March 12, 2005


Posted by tlewisisdope on September 28th, 2005 :: Filed under Music
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27 Responses to “Beyonce the Annoying; or, Why Blond Hair Does Not a Star Make”

  1. Chris
    October 19th, 2005

    Hey Tigg, you really are the truth. I refer to your essay on Beyonce all the time now in various discussions. I love that you said “white folks love their little black Barbie doll.” Oh so very true. Honestly, you’re the one who got me hooked on epinions.com
    You’re an incredible writer and you’re obviously very intelligent. Keep them coming, I have a long ways to go to read all your reviews and essays at epinions.com LOL But of course I will read just about every one.

  2. Ashley
    January 25th, 2006

    All I can say is that it’s your opinion.I personally love Beyonce,and I think she does showcase her powerhouse vocals.You can hate her or love her; it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day,there will be many (such as moi) that will continue to adore and support her and she’ll still be on top of her game.She is one of the handful of real artists in the midst of all thse imposters (ahem,Ashanti).

  3. Mindy
    April 29th, 2006

    Absolutely true what you said. *nods in agreement*
    Although she isn’t light-skinned, more of a medium brown complexion. Blonde weave probably helps to give her the ILLUSION of being lighter, as does foundation/makeup. Beyonce is attractive but her image is pretentious in a way that makes her unlikable, IMO.

  4. Ms. B
    July 19th, 2006

    I agree with alot you said. However I do feel that she has talent,(acting not included) and it was unfortunate that Kelly and Michelle did’nt have the drive that she had to command the camera and audience at times. Kelly does have a beautiful voice fit for a group. Michelle is beautiful but I don’t think she can sing at all. Makes you think if daddy knowles turned down other powerhouse voices so his daughter could shine. About the complexion issue I want to say that YES she did pass the brown paper bag test. Sad to say but true. We can’t blame white America, its our own people. Look at BET videos.

  5. Miami Ma
    September 2nd, 2006

    People talk and joke about and hate on Beyonce because she is driven and clearly meant to be the star. But does anyone wonder if Beyonce knows any other way of being? It’s hard to not feel entitled when everyone tells you–and has told you all your life–that you are entitled. It’s hard to imagine that Beyonce is truly aware of just how much she dominates Destiny’s Child. To her, giving Michelle all the bridges to sing probably seems really fair. And there is no one around her to tell her that it really isn’t.
    *******************
    AMEN! I lost all respect for her after the fur thing. These are the children growing up in the church. Go figure.

  6. killa kay
    December 5th, 2006

    The truth is I came onto google jut looking for a hate beyonce site to see what all the haters and people who knew nothing about her music or image would write. But when I came here after reading the first half I could tell that you knew what you were talking about and instead of being ignorant and just writting all these reasons why you didn’t like her you backed everything you said up with facts and what you wrote gave people something to think about. I will say that I still love beyonce and her music and will continue to adore her powerful demeanor and music that pulls emotion out of people. But thank you for writting the truth and not being ignorant so I can’t jump on you for your opinions because they aren’t just pulled out of the air. But she is of course a very talented individual and you also recognized that. thank you for writting this.

  7. crusty crust crust
    February 2nd, 2007

    beyonce is the bomb and she makes money so stop hatin’ on her. and she is here to stay and im young and im her #1 fan and i have learned alot from her so she is a good role model

  8. Risa
    June 29th, 2007

    AMEN! AMEN! People confuse constructive criticism with hate all the time. Beyonce does have talent, but she decides to undercut herself by offering sex first, and then talent second. If you have the talent, the image will come.

  9. Kerry
    August 13th, 2007

    KELLY HAS THE MORE VERSATIEL VOICE!!!??? Beyonce may be a tad overexposed and in desperate need of a vacation, but the girl can sing. you have to give her that. I love Kelly, but she is not a superior singer to Beyonce.

  10. Alanna
    December 17th, 2007

    She’s gorgeous… Beyond so like a living goddess… All the words that can describe beyond Attractive, Cute, Pretty, Beautiful, Gorgeous, etc. Probably as beautiful on the inside as the outstide… Talented and gifted can’t argue that… Driven yes… That’s a nice quality to be resilient… Good voice… Totally immaculate as far as appearance… Very creative doesn’t cling to one style… Great lyrics and songwriting skills… Some of her songs are empowering towards women yes… Honestly never thought about her ethnicity, heritage, race, ancestry, etc. as I’m sure many people don’t… Appears humble in interviews… Always gives way over 100% in performances… I think I can keep going and going… But never the less (<- spell check?) something about her is annoying… Lol

  11. Alanna
    December 17th, 2007

    She’s gorgeous… Beyond so like a living goddess… All the words that can describe beyond Attractive, Cute, Pretty, Beautiful, Gorgeous, etc. Probably as beautiful on the inside as the outstide… Talented and gifted can’t argue that… Driven yes… That’s a nice quality to be resilient… Good voice… Totally immaculate as far as appearance… Very creative doesn’t cling to one style… Great lyrics and songwriting skills… Some of her songs are empowering towards women yes… Honestly never thought about her ethnicity, heritage, race, ancestry, etc. as I’m sure many people don’t… Appears humble in interviews… Always gives way over 100% in performances… I think I can keep going and going… But never the less (<- spell check?) something about her is annoying… Lol

  12. Sheila
    April 15th, 2008

    Fake hair, heavy make up, hmmm that’d work for many other women. Manufatured black barbie type. Like other Hollywood rag dolls, her image and songs are thrust to us everywhere.

  13. Joy
    July 14th, 2008

    People are just jealous. Not everyone can be that pretty. Let’s just face it!!! We just have to love who we are inside and out. Even though I am light skin, I would love to see more women of color. Maybe Michele Obama WILL CHANGE THAT..
    On other note. If it was not for all the rumors about Rhianna and Jay-Z, no one would know who she was!! Let just be thankful that we have an icon for our generation..Beyonce.

  14. I don't get it
    July 29th, 2008

    You dislike her so much but you took SOOO much time to write a WHOLE novel about her…you can hate her or dislike her….but she has a better work ethic than most artists out right now…and the fact that she wears weave…has nothing to do with her talent…because talented she is…with all of the appearences she makes and all of the shows that she does…wearing your natural hair during a show unless of course you are truly going “natural” the hair will becomes damaged….Alot of people wear weave that may not need it…but because it’s our perogative and our right to. I hate how americans are sometimes…they have this whole “crab in the barrel syndrome”…where when one of us tries to climb up and make a better way for ourselves…people are always bashing them and over analyzing EVERYTHING that they do…ya’ll should be supporting her…I don’t think there is anyone here that can say that she has done anything to them personally…that’s why I say….HI HATER’S!…When I make my debut..I will over do everything so I know that I will be talked about…..that’s why she made that song “I Can’t Take No More”….for people like ya’ll….if you haven’t heard it listen to it…I’m disgusted!

  15. Faith
    December 14th, 2008

    I think Beyonce’is a good role modelbut dont overflatter her . She’s not a Goddess and she’s not abovethe oe who createdus which is god i gotta say though thts mygirl i love her music but i dnt take it to extreme

  16. chadntammy@hotmail.com
    December 28th, 2008

    I think she is very talented but there are many people out there who can sing just as good if not better. She is so overrated. We all have to admit though, she would not be this big if she didn’t have a lot of fans.
    She is a walking contradiction. She use to say she would keep her clothes on in songs, and then can you pay my bills and now she is half naked and independent. I say she is just singing whatever she can think of instead of using her music to portray who she really is. All in all her music sells and she is making money so she’s happy an we’re not but we love and hate her still.

  17. Cameron Stone
    March 25th, 2009

    Man you hit the nail on the head. She is irritating with her over-sung howling squeeling high pitched vocal gymnastics. I love R&B but his is not R&B. I just wish she could be real….

  18. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    VERY WELL WRITTEN! ENCORE!! APPLAUSE!!!!
    You depicted THE GREAT BEYONCE TO A ‘T’!!! TO A FLIPPIN ‘T’!!! WOW! You are not a hater and the people who say you are don’t know how to read. Your article had her best and her worst and the worst had explanations of why she’s that way and her best also had explanations of how she became that way!! BRAVO!!
    The article explains why she’s loved and why she’s hated.
    and both were creations that can not be undone UNLESS SHE WAKES UP AND CREATES HERSELF FROM SCRATCH AND THAT’LL NEVER HAPPEN especially with all her advisors including her HUBBY – She may be convinced if it aint broke and it works why fix it…BUT ya never KNOW..

  19. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    By the way I love how this article has lived on since 2005!! It’s five years and no change from the GREAT BEYONCE – EVERYTHING YOU WROTE 5 YEARS AGO IS STILL THE SAME EXACT WAY TODAY!!! THAT ALONE SHOULD TELL EVERYONE IT’S NEVER GOING TO CHANGE..BUT AGAIN YA NEVER KNOW…LOL

  20. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    SAME HAIR, SAME STYLE, SAME OL SAME OL AND STILL GOING STRONG…SHE WILL ‘NEVER’ CHANGE.

  21. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    You know sooner or later you have to search within. Your soul, your beliefs, your innerbeing!! Some people think ‘sex appeal’ and the same old tired look could last a lifetime- and they MAKE IT HAPPEN. That’s what they are known for. They are scared to change or evolve into a new level – a mature level a more sophisticated level. Out of fear that if it still works and I changed it will not work anylonger…and it takes a STRONG person to go for it and take that risk of rejection but INSIDE be at peace that you were strong enough to say ‘that’s enough’. SHE IS NOT THAT STRONG. Her songs shout out she is but she is, her money shouts it out but the innerbeing herself to go for a change she is not strong – she is afraid of rejection because she’s number 1 and to be 2nd would devastate her…hence she is not strong.

  22. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    a strong person who has it all and yet is willing to give up that 1st place trophy to reinvent themselves to a mature level and can not do that is a weak person. I would give her the utmost respect if and when i see that happen.

  23. Ginger
    October 28th, 2010

    people who have remained on the same old tired boat – CHER, CHARRO, JOAN COLLINS – FLASHY SAME OLDS and they still do well because the people/fans want to hang on to the same old – don’t change. there comes a time when you have to do it for yourself and not the fans anylonger. The TRUE FANS will stay the others only loved the image not the artist. that’s how you know the talent you have is REAL!!
    People who have reinvented themselves and have gained respect are AMONG the few so these people are really truly UNIQUE, and respected.

  24. tigger500
    October 29th, 2010

    Thank you for reading and showin love.

  25. Esmi
    May 25th, 2011

    Wow! It’s 2011 n this gr8 balanced well-written article still holds true. 1st, we have reaaallly overused the “hater” word to shoot at any & every1 that gives their honest view abt anything. How can we even b jealous of hollywood ppl we can’t relate to?? Props to Jill Scott! That’s what u call artistry influence. Nevertheless, I’ll jus say that I always seem to get this haunting epithamy abt Bey n that she will end up like her idol MJ Working n Pysch, I observe that there is something very staged abt this beautiful young lady. What concerned me most is when during her 60minute show interview, how she laughed n embraced being considered a ‘seductress’, saying, “wow, that’s a compliment…” then smiled n laughed after?! I’m forewarning all, there is something hidden that will come to light about the real her n the future…it never fails with high profile ent. Remember she said she purposely protects the ‘real her’ from the public to avoid being vulnerable and that she does all she does is for pure ent.

  26. Beyfan
    July 22nd, 2012

    This essay is very interesting, and I understand many of your points. However, this essay was written before 2006, when beyonce began rising up. I would assume that, from your essay, that you didn’t appreciate the B’Day album, but I think it would be very interesting to see your thoughts on Bey after the I Am… Sasha Fierce and 4 eras. She has definitely grown immensely as a persona and is using her voice in very different ways. Thanks for this essay! :)

  27. Michelle
    July 8th, 2013

    It is now 2013, and your article still comes up in a Google search! That being said, Beyonce is still a blonde with an overly sexualized image. Plus now we can add on the fake pregnancy rumors via use of a surrogate and an attitude that can be a major turn-off especially after the release of her own self-centered and directed documentary. She just doesn’t seem to live in the real world, and has a air of arrogance about her that says that the world revolves around her and her needs. It is sad because she has greatness within her, and possesses a beautiful voice when she doesn’t over-sing. Being able to possess some humility would do wonders for her as a person and as an artist. Who wouldn’t want to see a Beyonce that was down-to-earth with a natural appearance who also happened to be laid-back, intuitive, respectful, compassionate, empathetic, and insightful? I’m still hopeful for the day that I would get to see that Beyonce!

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