It’s official. The age of the new puritans is here. Some grew suspicious when Russell Brand was sacked, or yesterday when Radio 4 apologised for a bestiality joke. But it takes a Beyonce song to properly initiate any real change of direction in society, and here it is – her new song Single Ladies in which she tells women of the western world if they like a man then they should ‘put a ring on it’…
So, from an Independant Woman to a Get Me To The Church On Time trainwreck, who would have thought it? I relished B’s (That’s Beyonce-fan slang for Beyonce by the way) sassy hits from the early noughties, like the Austin Powers soundtrack gem Work It Out in which she warbles ‘I can’t wait for the bedroom, so let’s hit the floor’. Then she has her high note lipstick-feminism numbers like Suga Mama and Independent Women. But finally it seems she’s buckled under the heavy-duty weight of Jay-Z’s muscles and finally turned herself into a marital propaganda machine.
The video flaunts B in a supersexy tight outfit and heels, so we may have to wait a bit longer before the aprons, mops and rubber gloves make it onto the screen. But it’s still scary, to think three weeks ago MTV was showing her in a policeman outfit acting as if she was the first pop singer to play with cross-gender narratives, and now suddenly we see her staggering around in a terrifying wedding ring rant frenzy. I suppose the kind of ring she wants to put on the figurative guy in her song is open to debate, but I’ve got a feeling she’s talking religious bling as opposed to her orifice.
Marriage is quite an antiquated system, usually perpetrated through propaganda by societies that want to increase their population, and subsequently their work forces and armies. Marriage also constitutes heteronormativity: the woman cooks and cleans, the man makes the government richer. Why is Beyonce suddenly pushing these ideals in her pop music? Okay, if she loves Jay-Z and wants a family then that’s admirable, but it’s got nothing to do with rings, paperwork and obligation.
The only other answer I can think of is that B is anticipating the surely inevitable Beyonce: The Musical, for which she probably needs a pro-relationship song to help whatever storyline they come up with, as at the minute she’s only really got ones about sex, bills, being irreplaceable, ringing alarms and jumpin’ jumpin’. Not even Lloyd-Webber could spin a story out of that lot.
Ultimately I love Beyonce, she’s undeniably a world class act, and when I meet her she definitely owes me a drink, considering I saved up to by The Writings On The Wall when I was 13! Single Ladies is a fantastically produced track with really contagious synth samples and a hard-hitting beat. I just hope in future she uses her influence to push against America’s boring grand narratives: getting married, working your ass off for some lame company, getting fat and then dying.
Words: Jack Cullen - firstname.lastname@example.org