At first, this intro text was just gonna be a transcription of the first two seconds of “Countdown,” but angelic onomatopoeia can only belong to one lady: BEYONCÉ. SASHA FIERCE. QUEEN BEY. THE CHILD OF DEST INY. THE ONE WHO WASN’T JENNIFER HUDSON IN “DREAMGIRLS.” Listen, WEEKEND was alone at a crossroads: This spread has been a long time a-comin’. The inauguration. The Super Bowl. Dancing in your room by yourself. In one way or another, this woman has affected our lives, and five ladies (who run this motha? Girls!) are here to count the ways how. Everyone — kneel to Your Goddess.
Ready for My Own Jelly
// BY MILA HURSEY
I started working out every morning at 7:30. Why? Because Beyoncé. The only thing I had to text a friend to pry her out of bed was, “You have to! Beyoncé!!!” because Beyoncé is what we strive to be. I don’t actually want to deal with Kanye or celebrities, but I want to be as gracious as Beyoncé was to Taylor Swift during the VMA incident. I want to be as self-affirming as she was when she wrote “Bootylicious.” I want to be as driven as her. I want to be as kind, as poised, as sassy and as humble.
We both have thighs! We are both some kinda mixed something! That means that I can handle my business on my own terms too, right? (Preferably in stilettos, lace and leather.) Queen Bey is my hero. HATERS GON’ HATE.
Put Ur Do-rag On
// BY MARISSA MEDANSKY
My introduction to Beyoncé Knowles coincided with the great cultural awakening of my youth. It is 2004 — it is the year of Bush and Kerry, the year of Athens and Michael Moore. It is the year I am 11. And it is the year Destiny’s Child has released their third studio album, “Destiny Fulfilled.” It is bad. No one will remember “Bad Habit” or “T-Shirt” or “Girl.” These songs will be lost in a deluge of Top-40 amnesia, a lapse in our historical-cultural memory.
But I remember. I am 11 and George Bush is president and the Olympics are on TV, and there, too, is “Total Request Live.” Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle are there, singing “Cater 2 U,” that awful song from that awful album — a song about romantic submission assumed with a sleek and seductive air. Queen Bey will cater to (2?) him; she will, and I quote, “put his do-rag on.” In that moment, everyone in America — Bush and Kerry, Michael Moore and the lot of them — is confused, because what is a do-rag, anyway, and why is it called a do-rag and does this proverbial “U” to which Beyoncé is catering really need help with his do-rag?
When America caught its collective breath, we wondered why Beyoncé would be into a guy so scrubby he can’t even put on his own do-rag. The year is 2004; we are 11 years old, and Bey has made America her do-rag.
One Nation Under Bey
// BY KARIN SHEDD
Culturally speaking, the United States is simultaneously overwhelming in its great variety of offerings (Five Guys or In-N-Out — choose your allegiance) and disappointing in its almost complete lack of unity. This can leave a person feeling a little lonely, adrift in a sea of enticing niches that one can sample, but to which one can never fully assimilate.
This is especially true if, like me, you’re the type of ultra WASP-y person whose ancestors arrived here well before we politely declined to renew our status as Britain’s bottom bitch. Any cultural ties my forefathers may have had to the motherland have since been forgotten. Sure, I’ll wolf down latkes with my Persian Jewish suitemate at Shabbat dinner and stumble along spiritedly when my Mexican-Colombian friend attempts to teach me the merengue. But when I want to experience something broadly and authentically American, to whom do I turn?
The opening weeks of 2013 have made the answer exceedingly clear: Beyoncé. Nothing brings America together like an electrifying, seductive performance by Sasha Fierce. Whether or not they actually watched the game, Super Bowl Sunday marked a time when the majority of Americans — from the die-hards who know every step to the “Single Ladies” dance to those who can only hum a few bars of “Crazy in Love” — felt a powerful sense of cultural collectivism that underscored a fundamental truth about the “united” part of the United States of America: Beyoncé is the common denominator of the American people.
Countdown to Perfection
// BY LEAH MOTZKIN
Beyoncé’s “Countdown” music video is perhaps the closest that three minutes and 33 seconds have ever come to perfection. The opening trill is earth-shattering — especially when I pressed play inside Starbucks-on-Chapel, causing everyone to look up from their drinks/frozen yogurt/laptops in awe. The song overwhelmed the normal cacophony that characterized Starbs so that everyone basically got on their knees in awe of Beyoncé’s sonorous magnificence (in fact, they were all just staring at me accusingly). The music video starts with a close-up of Beyoncé’s face singing the first notes, indicating that the video’s goal is to highlight the music itself, as well as Beyoncé’s beauty. The video does not need a plot; the song itself paints a clear picture of why no one should ever, ever leave Beyoncé. That is enough plot for a modern-day epic.
I am not the only one who thinks so. YouTube sensation kkpalmer1000 did a fine rendition of the “Countdown” video dressed up in a Snuggie. Though I would at first scoff at the peasant who would attempt to match Queen Bey’s talent by making a bad rendition, his Snuggie version is spot-on, and I would characterize a lot of my last summer in terms of these two videos, watching and marveling at them side by side. I am not alone in saying I would love to be Beyoncé, which is why I sadly check amibeyonceyet.tumblr.com every day. As of yet, I’m still not her.
// BY LARA SOKOLOFF
In a Tuesday group meeting I was asked what had brightened my day. I would say that the Queen Bey herself “came” to mind, but she was already at the front of my mind so I guess she didn’t really move anywhere. Regardless, I was half-expecting to fumble and say something lame (like the tomato panino I had eaten for a non-meal at 4:30 p.m.) because someone would go on a Bey Super Bowl rant before I had the chance. I guess this group must have missed out on what has already been dubbed the Performance Of Our Generation, because no one mentioned her. I tried to sound casual — how successful that was, no guarantees.
But the irony is that “Love on Top” (my current obsession) has yet to download on my phone, so I’ve resorted to YouTube. As in, Beyoncé footage is literally streaming in my pocket all day. If you happen to peek over my shoulder as I pluck my phone from my pocket, you too will be lucky enough to catch a glance at the legend herself.
Other fine Beyoncé moments:
-When my then-10-year-old brother memorized all the lyrics to “Halo.”
-Three years later, when he and his two best friends memorized Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”
-When my 10th-grade Spanish teacher played “Irreplaceable” in Spanish (“Irremplazable”) to teach a grammar lesson. Good shit, Señora Holme-Elledge.