A lot of people have been talking a lot of smack about Beyoncé and Jay Z’s performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards last Sunday, January 26.
There has been a lot of talk about her outfit – skimpy, racy – in comparison to her hubby’s – fully clothed, business-like, all covered up.
And, of course, there have been comments questioning Baddie Bey’s role as a feminist in today’s world of popular culture. All of these comments and thoughts have reason, because what happened on stage last weekend at the Grammys clearly showed society’s standard gender roles, stereotypes and sexual symbolisms that I, as a Beyoncé fan, would have preferred didn’t make an appearance. We get it Bey, you’re spicy hot. I have a girl crush on you and am most certainly not the only one. But lady, you’re a class act. Even though the Queen’s fans aren’t necessarily 16-years-old, and she is a grown freakin’ woman, the Grammy performance could have been a little more classy and sassy, and a little less sex goddess.
Needless to say, the superstar couple’s performance of Queen Bey’s hit “Drunk In Love” (featuring her hubby) was sexy because it was supposed to be. If Beyoncé came on stage in a frilly dress and an acoustic guitar and started singing the song, people would have be super confused. Beyoncé and Jay’s duet is not Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (all due respect to Ms. Swift for her fairytale love story dreams, which are, in all honesty, also stereotypical and way too Disney).
The Power Couple vs. the Show:
Yes, Bey and Jay are a power couple – they do things, they shock people, they have a bleep-ton of money and they can basically do whatever they want. However, at the Grammys last weekend, the two were “required” to blast open the show with something hot and heavy to get people’s attention (because, as we saw, people got up and left during the final performance, leaving Mr. Trent Reznor an unhappy camper). Did it have to be so typical of the music industry? No. Would people have still payed attention even if Bey and Jay decided to sing Barney’s “I love you, you love me, etc. etc.?” Probably, but singing a fluffy song about hugging and holding hands wouldn’t have represented music’s biggest night accurately (only because to be cool in the music industry these days, you basically need to walk around singing about raunchy things in only a skimpy piece of underwear). And, what would a BeyJay performance of “Pretty Hurts” and “Holy Grail,” somehow combined to sound brilliant with Justin Timberlake appearing as a surprise guest, do for the Queen’s most recent album release? Most of Beyoncé’s album is about being open with one’s sexuality, something she has received and will continue to receive a lot of flack for.
Beyoncé has always been a sex symbol, but she hasn’t necessarily opened up this much about who she is when baby Blue Ivy Carter is having some sweet dreams. Sure, she has songs like “Naughty Girl,” where she lures Usher to dance with her by moving slowly and sultry in a sparkly martini glass, but nothing as risquée as some of the jams on her most recent release.
Pink at the Grammys, 2014:
Let’s look at another artist who performed at the Grammys last weekend: Pink! Her recent performance brand is all about aerial circus acts and what did she bring to the show on 2014’s last January Sunday? That! And it was awesome! It reflected her brand, showed her talents perfectly, showed how powerful women can be and basically left everyone’s jaws wide open. Let’s not forget, though, that Pink was once in a place where her thang was all about the “S” word. Remember “U + Ur Hand?” What about, “You Make Me Sick?” I remember being glued to the TV during my youth, watching Pink being all sassy and sexy, until my mother would scoot around the corner giving me that look – “Stop watching MuchMusic and turn on TVO right now!!”
Bey the Businesswoman:
Should the Grammy Awards have had no impact on last week’s performance, Bey would have probably still done something similar to reflect her new album’s brand. She is a businesswoman after all and sometimes, business people choose brand over everything. It happens every day in every other industry.
Prime example: The business-couple rocked the DirecTV’s Super Saturday Night show on February 1. Though Beyoncé wasn’t wearing a skimpy booty-suite (like what I did there?), she was still wearing a foxy dress and Jay was reppin’ Timberlands and a baggy sweater.
What I’m saying here is this: It’s important to have a positive role model who believes in gender equality, for everyone’s benefit. It’s important to push boundaries and shock people by doing things they don’t necessarily expect (I.E. – a sexy opening performance at the Grammys would be expected). And, it’s important to stand by gender equality even when an industry may be pushing in the opposite direction.
What I’m also saying is: Maybe the music industry (and yes, all those in it) needs a little more pushing before all of the above can happen, all the time.
Maybe Beyoncé can make it happen, but maybe she can’t. We have to remember that shows like the Grammys are that – shows. They take months and months and months of planning, deal-making and breaking, decision-making and goal-listing all to achieve these two things: A high number of viewers and a ton of press. I think the Grammy team can put a check mark beside those bullet points on their to-do list. Check!
Even though the Grammys have been around for 56-years, they still need to stay relevant and they still need people to tune in via both traditional media (radio and TV) as well as non-traditional (online). If the award show wasn’t relevant, well, I wouldn’t have been able to write this blog post and you certainly wouldn’t have been watching the Grammys or even have cared to Google rants about it afterwards. Am I right?
What do you have to say about Beyoncé and Jay Z’s performance last weekend?