When Beyonce dropped Beyonce: The Visual Album overnight, December 13 was not only declared Bey Day, 2013 was declared the year of Beyonce. While I wouldn’t disagree that this year was the year many clamored of Beyonce’s queendom and clumsily debated whether or not she was a feminist, for the most part 2013 was turning out to be the year Beyonce’s career began to crack. It was the year we demanded she lift the veil of calculated perfection but that actually ended up working out because the world seeing Beyonce as less than perfect pushed her to release her most honest, vulnerable and imperfect album, an album that will surely be more than just a footnote in music history.
Beyonce: The Visual Album is almost a direct response to Beyonce’s 2013 up until December 13. What’s interesting is that as soon as we were able to devour the spectacular album we seemed to forget that culturally we were losing patience with the prissy, uptight diva-yes, I said it.
Beyonce dropped the singles “Grown Woman” and “Bow Down” but let us not forget they barely performed on the charts. It had been rumored for months that the reason Beyonce’s album hadn’t dropped yet was because it sucked. (Touche, Beyonce. Touche!) But these rumors came after a year of Beyonce flubs.
She Tried To Trademark Blue Ivy. Before Blue Ivy was barely two years old, Beyonce and Jay Z decided it would be a good idea to trademark the name for a clothing line (they eventually failed). It’s always fun when celebrities moan about how the paparazzi and the general public are always trying to steal images of their poor, innocent child. Then they turn right around and try to capitalize on that poor, innocent child’s image.
She Lip Synced At The Inauguration. Beyonce was invited to sing at the President’s Inauguration but when the weather got really windy or something, she lip synced instead. After facing scrutiny she finally admitted that she would rather look like she is perfectly singing than have people realize she isn’t actually a God.
She said, “I am a perfectionist and one thing about me: I practice until my feet bleed. I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show and a very, very important, emotional show for me, one of my proudest moments. Due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud. So I decided to sing along with my prerecorded track, which is very common in the music industry. I’m very proud of my performance.”
She Tried To Rewrite History. Remember her epic Superbowl performance this year? Remember how the next day all of those hilarious pictures of Bey making funny faces were leaked? Remember how her PR team asked the entire universe to unpublish those images because she didn’t look good in them? Then the internet took her to town by photoshopping her to look even more unflattering. We all make funny faces, Beyonce. Relax.
Her Documentary Flopped. Life Is But A Dream was supposed to be an inside look at Beyonce’s life as a mother, performer and business mogul. Instead we got Beyonce talking into her laptop camera trying to appear weak to seem human. The documentary felt completely artificial and we learned nothing new about Beyonce other than what everyone knows: she is a perfectionist and has a perfect life.
New York Magazine said of the doc, “Life Is But a Dream is nothing but an exercise in public togetherness; even the webcam confessionals and a tender speech about her miscarriage can’t hide the obvious calculation behind the self-directed film. This is Beyoncé propaganda, a 90-minute self-paean to a pop star whose name is synonymous with.”
She and Jay Z Went To Cuba. Bey and Jay visited Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary despite the United States embargo on the country. The U.S.’s relationship with Cuba is a bit of a mess and while I think Americans should be able to travel to the country, it’s a bit odd that she and Jay went there and published photographs of their visit. It’s just another way they present themselves as completely untouchable.
The thing about Beyonce is that she is a perfectionist. It is her personality to never crack, to never falter to keep up appearances and to rigorously work at being a champion. There are plenty of people like this, we see these characteristics in entrepreneurs, athletes, doctors and lawyers but hardly are we used to seeing these attributes in pop stars. It’s natural to assume that pop stars are being controlled but Beyonce isn’t working against a whip on her back from record labels and managers, she is unshakingly perfect because it’s her nature to be driven. Appearing less than together is the real work for Beyonce, which is why The Visual Album is a true culmination of her career. It’s her magnum opus because although it wasn’t easy, it was certainly natural for Beyonce to be so pristine, however pushing herself to the realm of discomfort it what a real champion does.