In the space of 72 hours, Queen B has reconquered the lands.
But she's no Khaleesi you guys. She's no queen of nothing.
Two years ago her hush hush album/video package took the world by storm. She didn't need any trumpeting, any fan fare, or a militia to bring everybody to attention. By the time she quietly popped it into the Itunes store and made herself a cuppa, it was already world news and a must have.
This is a viral age. Cultural offerings spread faster than you can say Ebola or Zika these days.
And few people know how to keep a lid on what they're doing until the very last moment like Queen Bey does. (I'm looking at you Madge.)
On her last major outing, Queen B tried to take on her past.
Her beauty queen past. Or as an amazingly talented friend of mine once said - her pageant pop past.
Problem is, there's usually not that much novelty or grit on offer when a good girl goes bad when the drama is all based on being upset about being, you know, beautiful, talented, rich, successful and wanting to do something artsy and, serious to make up for it. To do it well, you need to add something else into the mix. And the best, most proven way to do this is to bring sex into the mix. That blueprint has proven almost fool proof (I'm looking at you again Madge).
So, some of the best moments that came out of Beyonce were when that pageant hair really got messed up, QB got down and started riding surfborts and messing up Warhols with Jay Z.
Drunk In Love in my books was the best artifact that from that period, along with the Martha Graeme inspired Mine which, not coincidentally, didn't make anywhere near the same kind of impact as DIL despite it being a Drake collab.
Beyonce was a leap by her standards. An attempt to lend some artistry to a career that was already going great guns, but that was all highlights and foils. In a way it was a reinvention of sorts: the perfection of her past and the first step towards trying to bring the worlds of credibility and commerce together again.
If you've any doubt that Queen B is on a mission, we need look no further into the past than this last weekend, in which the duality of her current state of mind as reigning pop queen have been put back on show for everyone to see.
On Saturday, and out of the blue, Beyonce dropped the video for Formation. A dark, angry and empowering anti anthem- anti in the sense that it's not so much a sing a long as it as a war call. She came to slay, bitches.
What she has delivered is a kind of Beyonce-ised, blistering take on the outrage that is palpable in America: on being a woman, on being black, on being marginalised in an already fractured, wounded society. She has essentially dived into a pool that is swirling with tensions powered by the Black Lives Matter movement and the growing sense of frustration that is ever more palpable.
She has copped some flak for allegedly appropriating documentary imagery (the official line is that the footage wasn't owned by the film makers, and had been licensed for use by a third party which did own the rights) but beyond the rally call, she has also gotten people all hot and bothered again because of references to being, um, jammed hard and taking her man to Red Lobster as a thank you.
References like the Red Lobster and the sassy take on Hot Sauce work on the same level as what made Drunk In Love so powerful. That is the idea of America's good girl not just getting nasty, but real nasty.
But what makes Formation so interesting is that its get down and get nasty element isn't it's be all and end all like it was in Drunk In Love. It works better than any of QB's other forays into pop activism because it's more layered than anything else she has done before. She has essentially thrown down the gauntlet to those who don't see her as being layered and complex enough to have an opinion about what's going on around her, and what she's being subjected to. And that's an idea that took almost a decade to enter into her work, that she really only began fighting for with her fifth studio album.
The other surprising aspect to this past weekend is that, in performing at the Superbowl, she took Formation to the masses.
Usually, the Superbowl half time show is all about safety, familiarity and a showbiz excess. It had all that in the names it attracted - Bruno Mars and B have delivered it some of its highest ever ratings in the past - and the ensemble additions of Lady Gaga and Coldplay meant that every conceivable base was being covered. But rather than go in with a hits mentality, she brought her new, just dropped conversation starter to the stadiums and to television screens the world over. In doing that, she guaranteed that we'd be talking about her new song, the fact that she's finally building on her previous work rather than chasing the easy hits, and, oh, yes, conveniently announcing to the world that she's going back on the road.
All in the lightning time span of six albums and three minutes.
That is called bringing it home.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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