When Beyoncé does something, the world sits up and pays attention. She can do anything and suddenly, just like that, she’s made the headlines. Be it her opinions on feminism, her latest outfit, or her latest tour, she is a marketing machine that the music industry cannot ignore. Such is her power, that last week, when she unexpectedly released her visual album, Lemonade, on Jay Z’s streaming site, Tidal, she was the name on everybody’s lips. Breaking Taylor Swift’s record, all of the songs featured on the album made it into the American top 100. She is, without a doubt, a tour de force in her own right. A business woman, an icon and Jay Z’s wife.
Featuring 12 tracks, the visual album documents the personal rollercoaster of the artist. In a move away from the sugary sass of hit tunes such as Love on Top and Crazy in Love, the album is arguably a statement of maturity and a testament, as if we needed one, of Beyoncé craft as a pioneering artist. However, with the focus on the rumours of Jay Z’s apparent infantility and the suspicion of who exactly “Becky with the good hair” is, the limelight has been well and truly taken away from the subject of the art: Beyoncé herself.
Why then does everything Mrs Carter touch turn to gold? Why is the world so interested in what Beyoncé did next? Because behind the celebrity status and dinners with Obama, stripped of the rumours and hearsay, she is, quite simply, a woman. Much like the fame of Adele, she’s an icon with a voice, unafraid to celebrate her success and simultaneously speak truthfully about that which makes her most vulnerable. Her magic, marketing or not, boils down to the fact that people can empathise and she knows it. The lyrics, the statements, the confessions, and the admittance of insecurities make her human and therein lies her genius. In her documentary, Life is but a Dream, the 34 year old singer shared a priceless insight into her family life and her miscarriage. Aired by the BBC, the film, directed and produced by Beyoncé herself, allowed her fans, fondly known as the Beyhive, to really get to know their icon. However, behind the candid home videos and the snippets of holiday footage, each scene was calculated. By being so deeply personal, people do not look for more, and in turn, Beyoncé retains the privacy and dignity so uncommon for many stars in the intrusive culture of celebrity. As a result, people believe her, they want to hear her, and what she says is taken as truth. As she says, “I’m a human being and I fall in love and sometimes I don’t have control of every situation”, thus exemplifying the fragility that makes her a symbol of female power.
Love her music or loathe it, one cannot argue that she understands exactly what the public demand from a modern musician in a society that always wants more. As Vanity Fair writes, “whatever Beyoncé giveth, the public taketh with open arms” because she is, a talented and graceful woman unfaltering in a storm of stories and rumours.