Destiny's Child, a female rhythm'n'blues group that crossed over into pop and rap, formed in Houston in 1990 when its members were still teenagers (in fact, Beyonce Knowles was nine years old).
They established themselved as a major commercial force with a string of
singles: Killing Time (1997),
No No No, from Destiny's Child (1998),
Say My Name and Bills Bills Bills, from The Writing's on the Wall (1999),
Independent Women Pt 1 (2000), one of the biggest hits of the era.
Following much-publicized internal turmoil,
Beyonce wrote most of Destiny's Child third album, Survivor (2001),
containing Survivor and Bootylicious.
Beyonce's first solo singles, Work It Out and
Crazy in Love (2003), made her a star, despite the mediocre quality of
Dangerously in Love (2003).
was full of disposable
songs. The only one that mattered was the colossal hit composed by producer
Ne-Yo, Irreplaceable. Her best impersonation was perhaps Ring the Alarm (2006).
I Am Sasha Fierce (2008) contains the bouncy Single Ladies,
composed by Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell, and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart.
In 2008 Beyonce married rap superstar Jay-Z .
4 (2011) and Beyonce (2013), that sold more than 600,000 copies in the first three days, had no song worth mentioning.
Nonetheless, by 2013 she had sold over 100 million "records" (whatever that meant in 2013).
Beyonce (2013) was notable for being as much visual as audio.
This was a new step in the marriage of marketing and show business.
Drunk in Love was the hit.
Lemonade (Parkwood Entertainment, 2016) was another attempt to promote
her to auteur. An industry artifact with no personality, Beyonce swings between
the playful reggae of Hold Up and the gospel hymn Freedom via
the piano elegy Sandcastles. Best is probably
Don't Hurt Yourself, which is quintessential Aretha Franklin.
The collaboration with James Blake yields two of the most boring ballads of
All the media hype does little to make this album more than a marketing
project. In fact, it's even less musical than Beyonce.
She's a mediocre singer and an awful songwriter, and no amount of production
work can fully hide that.
The accompanying video (a much more relevant cultural artifact, inspired by Julie Dash's 1991 film "Daughters of the Dust"), includes spoken-word interludes of poetry by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire: "The Unbearable Weight of Staying", "Dear Moon", "How to Wear Your Mother's Lipstick", "Nail Technician as Palm Reader", and "For Women Who Are Difficult to Love".
Everything Is Love (2018) was a collaboration with her husband
Beyonce's younger sister Solange Knowles debuted with
Solo Star (2002) but mainly wrote songs for Beyonce until
Sol-Angel and the Hadley St Dreams (2008), a work that turned her into
a soul-revival star. A Seat at the Table (2016)
reached the top of the sale charts with confessional and almost psychoanalytical lyrics. Unfortunately the music was really (really) boring and trivial,
which means that she joined the ranks of
Rihanna as a leading black pop star.
Beyonce's next album was the soundtrack of a remake of
The Lion King, an album titled
The Gift (2019), featuring collaborations with both US rappers and
African musicians. The songs of the soundtrack were then given videos
by various directors to create the visual album
Black Is King (2020).
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