But I’ve recently been fascinated by the hating on Beyonce. I like her music well enough. I’ve always been a sucker for anthem-type songs (see Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, et al.) and music with a good dance beat. Lately, though, the flap over whether she lip-synched the national anthem, the YouTube video suggesting she and hubby Jay-Z belong to a Satanist cult and now, the controversy over lyrics in her latest song, have pushed me to do a little reading to try to figure out what the hoopla is all about.
It started a few days ago when a friend and I were riding in her car and heard a story that singer Keyshia Cole had taken the one-name wonder to task for her song “Bow Down.” Cole stirred things up by tweeting that “First ‘Women need to Stick together’ now bitches better Bow. Smh.”
“Not having heard the song or read the lyrics, I cannot comment,” my friend said, adding, “not that I really care all that much.”
But curiosity got the better of me. So I later went online to find the lyrics, which read:
“I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it, don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches / I took some time to live my life / But don’t think I’m just his little wife / Don’t get it twisted, get it twisted.”
I kept scrolling, thinking there would be more to the song. Yeah, it was profane. Yes, it ran counter to the neo-feminist image that Beyonce has crafted for herself, along with the good girl image, along with the wild alter ego Sasha Fierce, and, and, and. But when all was said and done, it was – in my estimation – a bad song.
I mean bad as in awful. There was no real substance, no real edge. The lyrics sat there, a written equivalent of flippin’ the bird, cobbled together on a day when someone, or some people, said something that got on Beyonce’s last nerve. It felt like the kind of thing you might say in the heat of the moment and then quickly forget about.
What was more offensive to me was that someone took the time to add a beat to it and push it as a song. There is enough bad music out there without having yet another lame tune tossed on the pile.
I’m not angry that she wrote it – or even thought it. I’m just annoyed that Beyonce didn’t have someone to help her edit herself.
That happens with celebrities from time to time. As much as I love Smokey Robinson, his “Love Bath” died a swift and merciful death after its debut in 2010. It climbed to about No. 83 on the Billboard charts, largely on the strength of his name and reputation.
Fortunately, his star won’t be marred by a forgettable song.
Beyonce should be so lucky. In this Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook era, little things can become explosive and mountains made from molehills.
For those of you who, like me, wondered what the shouting was about, worry no more. “Bow Down” is not the anti-woman anthem that should stir feminists to lead a boycott of Beyonce’s music.
You can argue about the measure of her talent. You can decry her as overexposed. You cannot, however, find deep meaning in “Bow Down.”
It’s just lame.
Jackie Jones, a journalist and journalism educator, is director of the career transformation firm Jones Coaching LLC and author of “Taking Care of the Business of You: 7 Days to Getting Your Career on Track.”