Amy Dawson on how the undisputed queen of pop keeps on winning…
FORMATION, the surprise track Beyoncé dropped at her mindblowing Super Bowl performance on Sunday, is a highly charged exploration of the Black American experience – and freakily catchy to boot. We’d expect nothing less from Queen Bey, right? With a world tour announced and a new album surely on its way, here are the five most game-changing moments of her career to date.
When she invented ‘doing a Beyonce’
One December morning in 2013, without any warning whatsoever, Beyoncé released a digital album that went straight to No.1. And not just any album: self-titled opus Beyoncé was a boundary-pushing masterpiece exploring sex, love, feminism and creative freedom. In an age where the majority of us stream single tracks pick’n’mixstyle, her LP was initially only available as a complete iTunes package and not released on streaming sites. Artists from U2 to Drake have since followed her surprise-release lead.
When she transformed the modern lexicon
More than a decade after she helped ‘bootylicious’ make it into the Oxford English Dictionary, Ms Knowles-Carter is still transforming the way we speak. Her last album alone sparked enough catchphrases to start a slogan T-shirt shop: see ‘Flawless,’ ‘I woke up like this,’ ‘Watermelon’ and ‘Surfboard’. With Formation she adds ‘I came to slay, bitch’ and many more.
When she announced her pregnancy
Facebook status post? Group text? Nah, not good enough for Bey. After performing Love On Top at the 2011 MTV VMAs, she dramatically dropped her microphone, opened her jacket and rubbed her belly with a grin. Cue the crowd losing it and the camera cutting to a happy Jay-Z being slapped on the back by an uncharacteristically jolly Kanye.
When she brought intellectual feminism into the mainstream
At the 2014 MTV VMAs, that most populist of occasions, Beyoncé performed Flawless in front of a billboard emblazoned with the word ‘feminist’. The track samples Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s landmark TEDx talk on gender equality. The star spells it out to the masses: you can 100 per cent shake it on stage in a leotard and be an informed feminist at the same time.
When she showed how to shut down the haters
Some criticised Bey’s decision to sing with a pre-recorded track at Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration. She said she had no chance to rehearse with the orchestra, or to take a proper sound check and addressed rumours about her singing ability by belting out a spellbinding a cappella version of the national anthem at a press call before asking: ‘Any questions?’
Beyoncé’s UK tour starts on Jun 28. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday. livenation.co.uk