Jul 15

DESTINY’S CHILD – “Independent Women, Part 1”

Popular79 comments • 5,978 views

#883, 2nd December 2000

destinyswomen It’s hard not to let what Beyoncé Knowles was become swamped by what she is. A veteran, an icon, a woman enjoying a remarkable critical peak, an earner, second only to headphone mogul Dr Dre on current musical money lists – Beyoncé, as she is happy to tell us, works astonishingly hard, but one of the things she works at is controlling her narrative, shaping her career so that each step seems higher than the last, and her success appears pre-ordained. It was there in the name of her own group. “Child of destiny… independent me…”. But that’s only a story. Nothing is really inevitable, and Beyoncé enters Popular running, working, managing her options, using her group’s remarkable success as a springboard, while trying to win a PR battle over the palace coup that finished a multi-platinum line-up and cut a quartet to a reshuffled trio.

The stakes were very high. The Writings On The Wall sold millions and helped reinvent its genre. In sound and attitude, the singles from it were astonishing, particularly “Bills Bills Bills” and “Say My Name”, which would glide, jab, purr, stutter, break down into precise micro-maps of beatwork and then be reconstituted in time for their earworm choruses. The group themselves were a match for their production, just as happy to change modes mid-song. Or even mid chorus – take the way “Bills Bills Bills” jumps from the sweeping repetition of “bills….bills…bills…” to the sudden, sprightly kiss-off of “I don’t think you do / So you and me are through”. On “Say My Name” the angry stacatto of the verses, and their rushes of paranoid realisation, complement the keening, screw-turning chorus: it’s a masterpiece of suspicion and wrath, playing off the great history of those emotions in soul music while sounding like nothing before.

But the group who made those songs was gone. LaTavia Roberson and LaToya Luckett complained about the management and found themselves discarded mid-video. By “Independent Women”, one of their replacements had already quit. Destiny’s Child was now a trio. That would be its final and platonic form, its megastar incarnation, one that still reforms now and then. Luckett and Roberson became the Sutcliffe and Best of the group, banished from Destiny’s Child before things really got big – or so the new story framed it, and never mind that no subsequent album actually sold as much as The Writings On The Wall:

Big was certainly the plan. Survivor – the album – is a soggy thing in parts, but it announced itself with unparalleled clarity and determination: three singles, three manifestos. “Independent Women, Part 1” was the first, with the most to prove. Right away, it’s clear something has changed. The switches and feints of “Bills Bills Bills” or “Say My Name” are replaced by a far more direct approach, a straight-to-the-point funk loop that bumps away all through the song, a framework to showcase its three singers. The aftershock of the new lingers – this record may streamline and back off from earlier advances, but it still sounds thrilling and self-possessed, confidently honing its approach while everyone else catches up. But there’s no question anymore of the production becoming the star. Whether or not ‘futurism’ was ever the point of Destiny’s Child, it isn’t here.

The group’s lyrical approach has also hardened. The 1998-9 singles were vignettes: little bullet-time panoramas circling a particular interpersonal crisis just at the moment of collapse. “Independent Women” throws out that approach and again prefers something that pulls your focus onto the singer: a song built around a rhetorical device, the snapped “Question” at the start of every line. It’s remorselessly direct: economic and sexual independence were always in the music, the subtext of “Bills Bills Bills” or “Jumpin’ Jumpin’”, but there’s zero room for subtext here. The new Destinys’ Child is ruthlessly on the nose.

So whether we want to be anachronistic or not, there’s no escaping it: everything’s pointing in the same directon. The music toned down, more a framework for its singers. The lyrics turned into a rhetorical barrage, keeping the focus squarely on who’s delivering them, not their situation. And the basic mathematics of the new group. There’s no centre to four (or at most – this was Roberson and Luckett’s complaint – a double centre), but three resolves into a natural shape on stage and on film, a V formation. Just ask Mary Wilson and Flo Ballard. While the spotlight in Destinys Child sometimes rotates – and Kelly Rowland’s glorious, camera-pleasing repertoire of smirks, side-eyes and reaction shots is the group’s secret video weapon – this incarnation of the band is a machine built to make a singer famous.

Before it can do that, there was a film to promote. “Independent Women” tackles its job as a soundtrack single for Charlie’s Angels as directly as it tackles everything else. Beyoncé isn’t just sharing the spotlight with her co-Childs, but with three other women – Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz – who get individual shout-outs alongside constant lyrical nods to the film. This is a hostage to fortune, you might think – Charlie’s Angels was a sharp, fun movie, one I remember with only fondness, but “Independent Women Part 1” is a landmark record by one of the major 00s pop groups. There’s certainly a risk the constant product placement might diminish it now.

I think it dodges that risk. Partly it’s that within the economic game the record uses to define independence, showing off your soundtrack deal is plainly a legit move. Partly it’s the thematic tie – Charlie’s Angels is a vision (or fantasy) of a Hollywood where women get to front action films, and the line between the record made to promote the movie and the record Destiny’s Child would be making anyway is almost invisible. (”Synergy”, as the memos no doubt put it.) Mostly it’s just that the record is so forceful a celebration that it brushes caveats aside.

Because while it’s easy to see Destiny’s Child’s new directness in terms of what’s been lost, this is pop, and there’s an advantage to making the obvious unavoidable, going all-out for the anthemic. The context the group operated in wasn’t just their earlier singles, it was a trend within R&B of probing power-games and inequalities in relationships: TLC’s flaying of impecunious suitors on “No Scrubs” just the most prominent example. By September 2000, when “Independent Women” came out, Billboard could refer offhanded to “a wave of male-bashing sweeping R&B”. If they didn’t have the no-nonsense stringency of Destiny’s Child’s ‘98-’99 singles in mind, others were happy to lump the group in. The concern was overstated: rock and pop songs had been about women, money and sex since forever. The only twist was now the women had – on record, at least – control of the money and the sex. But the trend was real enough. “Independent Women, Part 1” doubled down on it by presenting the underlying theme as starkly as possible.

That meant cash: if you’re going to do a song about independence, you aim for what keeps people dependent. “Independent Women, Part 1” is as clear sighted about the transactional side of relationships as any Gang Of Four song – the difference being that the critique is pragmatic not systemic. The solution to inequality is to earn enough to afford what you want yourself. Here’s where the song’s focus, its musical and lyrical bluntness, pays off – the successive “I bought it… I bought it… I bought it…” is a stirring application of force. And then the record plays its best trick, taking the latent churchiness within the preaching, rhetorical style and unleashing it for the chorus, turning individual autonomy into a communal celebration – “throw your hands up at me!”. It’s not solidarity, exactly – no room for those who can’t or won’t earn. But in that moment, “Independent Women, Part 1” – the anthem, the film promo, the comeback, the crest of a trend, the next step in a business plan – lives the dream of the virtuous market, where all interests perfectly align.



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  1. 31
    Tom on 6 Jul 2015 #

    One of the things I find consistently interesting about Beyoncé (I’d class myself as a casual fan, FWIW) is her ability to sell aesthetically positions that make me squirm a bit, or a lot, politically. More on that next time.

  2. 32
    Jonathan on 6 Jul 2015 #

    There’s limits to the extent capitalism functions as a force for empowerment, but as well as reading this in feminist terms, the song should be understood within the long African American history of seeing economic justice as being as fundamental to being liberated from white supremacy as civil rights are. I feel like there is real empowerment to “the house I live in — I bought it” in an America removed from redlining only by decades.

  3. 33
    Izzy on 6 Jul 2015 #

    30: I’m bewildered by the sentiment that employment = disempowerment. What does radical and progressive have to offer that’s any better?

  4. 34
    Phil on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Not a sentiment so much as a statement of fact, particularly at the lower end of the scale. Sure, at the end of the week you’ll have money in your pocket – hurrah – but for the next three hours you’re going to be stacking those shelves, and you’re going to do it with a smile. Taking pride in doing a good job under conditions like those strikes me as very much the same mentality as taking pride in being beaten and not crying out – you’re disciplining yourself, internalising the boss’s role.

    The radical alternative is working for a living – but reluctantly, in the knowledge that you’re being exploited and (the fun part) while taking opportunities to slack off, chat, leave early etc. Collectively, of course. The first time I heard Friday referred to as Poets Day, the speaker was older than me & senior within the workplace.

    FWIW, #GiveYourMoneyToWomen also makes me want to bang my head against something. The logic seems to be “I put a lot of work into looking this good for your benefit – pay me for my time!” The radical (and straightforwardly feminist) alternative to this one being to refuse to do all that work in the first place. Collectively, of course.

  5. 35
    Tom on 6 Jul 2015 #

    This makes setting up ILX – which we once calculated had cost the UK economy several million pounds thanks to its potential for workplace distraction – by some distance the most radical action I have ever been involved in.

  6. 36
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jul 2015 #

    “The radical alternative is working for a living – but reluctantly, in the knowledge that you’re being exploited and (the fun part) while taking opportunities to slack off, chat, leave early etc.”

    Don’t think much of this new Sleaford Mods single, it doesn’t even rhyme ;-)

  7. 37
    JLucas on 6 Jul 2015 #

    The first shot of Beyoncé in this video finds her sitting at the head of a conference table. She’s flanked by her bandmates, but her centralised position makes it clear who the CEO is of this particular corporation.

    It tells you everything you need to know about the dynamic of the group, obviously, but it’s also a decent metaphor for Beyonce’s position as perhaps the most self-possessed pop icon of our time. Other pop stars have displayed a keen instinct for controlling their images – Madonna being the most oft-cited example – but none have succeeded in climbing to such heights while appearing to give so little of themselves in the process.

    Because after all, even fifteen years on from this record, what do we really know about Beyonce Knowles? You won’t find her giving tearful confessional interviews, battling substance abuse or writing overtly personal lyrics. Vulnerability is not her M.O. Her signature hits are rallying cries, her slower moments determinedly non-specific. More often than not, they’re framed in markedly businesslike terms. Take ‘Irreplaceable’ – a surprising non-bunny from 2006. It’s a classic pop kiss-off, but the lyrics could as easily be addressed to a terminated employee as a spurned lover.

    Much of this will be more relevant to future entries, but the seeds for what was to come can be found here. The Writing’s On The Wall era took the group into the stratosphere, but the double lineup change was a PR nightmare that threatened to derail the group at their moment of triumph. For the first and only time, Beyonce was in danger of looking unprofessional.

    On the other hand, the slimmed down trio that emerged on Independent Women made it all the easier to position her as the de facto leader of the group. She was careful to be more generous to her co-stars than Diana Ross had been – Kelly and Michelle at least got a line or two to sing solo on most of their major hits – but this is the moment when even the most casual pop pundits come to learn her name.

    Interestingly, almost at the exact moment that she finally becomes undeniably famous, her public image is already beginning to calcify into the titanium-plated facade she presents today. Pre-IW interviews show a much more unguarded young woman, clearly very much the leader of the group, but not quite as secure in the role. Youtube is awash with footage from this time of her contradicting her bandmates on-camera and occasionally actively shutting down lines of conversation that threaten to go off-script. Diplomacy is a learned skill, and with the rogue elements of her group discarded, Beyonce shortly becomes the mistress of more subtle means of controlling her narrative. You’ll have to search very hard to spot any cracks in her armour from this point on.

  8. 38
    thefatgit on 6 Jul 2015 #

    #34 I’ve been doing that for 20 years, and so has my colleague. Nobody has noticed a thing.

  9. 39
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jul 2015 #

    #34, #38: It’s quite depressing though, no? Whenever I’ve found myself in that mindset (most jobs I’ve had) I’ve always just thought ‘if I don’t enjoy this job enough to do it really well, why don’t I quit and do something I care about?’ To that end, I’d just got enough freelance work and eased into a regular writing schedule when Mrs Mack started getting broody…ho hum, the struggle continues (actually parenthood is the one time I’ve found myself gladly undertaking drudgery – even in my band I’d pay roadies to carry the gear if we were making more money, I don’t think I’d want a nanny changing baby Mack’s nappies for me and handing her over ready for scheduled cuddling)

  10. 40
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Phil, you seem to be discussing some Lapsarian Fall, or as we know it Autumn – first job, new year at college, new year at school – the hand of the Man making you do things you don’t want to has been fairly well embedded by the time of your first paycheck – the difference is that now this results in things you can exchange for goods and services.

    You’ve also, for reasons I really can’t fathom, generated some opposition between “I am happy that my job pays me money” and “I am not very professional”. The fact that most people can resolve these pretty easily is (as Tom suggests) embedded in the very code you are viewing right now.

  11. 41

    I rewatched Charlie’s Angels properly last night, as it’s a film I generally (half)watch when it comes on, and feel I’m enjoying — and I was a bit surprised by the murking it was getting here.

    OK, it’s no masterpiece, or any kind of an important film (its director has made nothing of interest since, including the follow-up iirc) (haha McG!). But it’s definitely funny and self-aware — the three leads are all accomplished physical comediennes, Bill Murray is Bill Murray. The opening sequence is terrific (inc.good cameo from LLCoolJ) (for it is he); the closing battle is also pretty good*; and the Mission Impossible-esque heist in the middle, with Diaz and Barrymore in male drag and Liu posing as an efficiency consultant-stroke-dominatrix beating up on the geeks is excellent (once you get past a slightly clumsy anticipatory exposition set-up)

    It definitely doesn’t hang together — the leads tend to be at their best in their solo scenes (heist sequence excepted), and as a result it’s never more and sometimes less than the sum of its parts. The tell being that there’s a few too many dud reaction shots in the ensemble scenes (some of them looking a bit perfunctory, as if the Angels don’t actually find each other hilarious as performers and have to fake it a bit?) (this is a drawn-out of way of agreeing with Mark M that it definitely lacks a crucial bit of chemistry)

    It’s largely quick-witted and non-awful about several of the things that could have tanked it: first and foremost the manifold contradictory varieties of feminism and girl-power being called on (and the fact that they can’t coexist in real life, only in this absurd cartoon)**; and to a lesser extent the never-not-dodgy othering exoticism of this mode of film (= the spy thriller which with or without comedy elements is forever careening through mosques and temples and endless stereotypes of this or that picturesque or sexy or ‘sinister’ aspect of the cultures of others, more often than not blowing them to pieces)***

    it has a scatter of genuinely good laugh-out-loud lines (but yes, could do with many more)

    Curry (being massaged by Liu): “You’re very good with your hands. I could use someone like you on my staff.”
    Liu (as cold as only she etc): “Thanks for the offer but my hands aren’t going anywhere near your staff.”

    (This is unfortunately immediately wrecked by the toe-curling ‘Turning Japanese’ geisha cosplay scene that follows: it’s true that the hand-me-down Orientalism is the Curry character’s fetish, and they’re playing along to infiltrate and defeat, but it’s still crass) (also I hate that song) (on the whole the S/T is very very good)

    It’s clearly better than any of the Bonds of the 80s-90s-00s-10s (in fact, as a major non-Bond fan, I’d say the only reason it can’t be judged better than EVERY Bond is that it requires them to have existed to have set up the tropes it largely depends on); it’s better than any of the Mission: Impossibles (Ethan Hunt what a hem hem bore) (actually I think I haven’t seen them all, maybe there’s a Sudden Hidden Gem); it’s of course not as deliriously inventive as the first two Austin Powers movies (though it is — arguably — a bit tighter and less self-indulgent); obviously it’s no Spy Kids and is merely dwarfed by The Powerpuff Girls ****… but then what isn’t?

    *it’s lower stakes maybe than such climaxes usually are, but this is because it also has to sustain the comedy bubbles of the four main leads
    **viz that women can be strong and sexy and vulnerable and deft and technically deft and knowledgable (barrymore the scrabble fiend and anagrammatician; diaz as bird-fancier) and violent-when-needed and kind and etc etc, all the time all at once with immense dizzy gusto (ok liu is never dizzy). Interesting too on the politics of the kinds of BFs an Angel will have, or be interested in. The Barrymore bad-girl subplot’s a bit of a mess here, but this is more a problem with her love interest than her (I don’t actually mean the Tom Green character — I know some people are entirely allergic to him in all forms, but I actually think there’s something quite charming and plausible between his and Barrymore’s relationship, a spark maybe based on the fact that they were newly married at the time and she fought to get him cast) (if you loathe this section I won’t hold it against you, but I liked it)… anyway, the idea of each Angel have a kind of Boz-alike as a BF, a guy who just gets on with his own life and is pleased and proud of Angel accomplishment, is a tidy enough way of handling a potentially derailing element

    ***so that the scene where diaz innocently dances through the soul train line, winning an all-black club clientele from ferocious side-eye to amused approval, is definitely played for its self-mocking absurdity — and to be honest probably doesn’t quite leapfrog the WTF element to this (inherited) trope
    ****as so often (powerpuff girls always excepted) the villains are weak: crispin glover is thrown away, tim curry is as awful as ever, and the primary masterminds [no spoilers] are just super-dull — there’s something interestingly prescient about the notion of tech-geek millionaires as wrong ‘uns (this can’t be the first film it surfaces in) but then this swerves into a plot based in backstory related to the charlie’s angels own classic set-up (which is of course a colossal millstone — the non-presence of charlie was at best a practical repeat framing device in the original, tho the self-destructing spool in mission impossible was always much better — as soon as you start making knowing jokes about charlie as an actual real person or folding his life into the plot at some kind of would-be heart-tugging level, it’s obviously a dud)

  12. 42
    Phil on 6 Jul 2015 #

    The knowledge that you’re being exploited is only depressing if you don’t fight it – or if you’re the only one fighting it (in which case your coworkers will just think you’re a slacker). A workplace where everyone – or everyone who isn’t actively trying to get promotion – fairly regularly starts late, finishes early or goes to the pub at lunchtime (or all three) is a happy workplace. I’m not at all convinced it’s less productive, either. As for professionalism, I believe – or rather, I know from personal experience – that it’s entirely possible to hit deadlines, keep colleagues and clients satisfied, produce a high-quality end product and generally do a bang-up job, while slacking off for part of the day. You just need to be organised about it.

    Having said that, I spent the first twelve years of my working life trying to get out of jobs where the main pleasure was a long lunch break and into one that I would actually enjoy doing, which at the time meant journalism* (it now means academia). I haven’t done a job I hated since 1995.

    *You probably won’t have noticed my byline, as I recklessly flouted rules 1-3 of Getting Anywhere In Journalism – Move to London, Go to Parties and Meet People. I had a crack at 2 and 3, admittedly – I had a long chat with Andrew O’Hagan who seemed genuinely interested! Martin Jacques addressed me by name, and we hadn’t even been introduced! – but doing it from Manchester was tough.

  13. 43

    adding: even as a hormonal teen, i thought the original charlie’s angels was annoying rubbish — the film is much much much better, and sadly inherits its primary plot weakness by pandering to misconceived fondness for the original

    (obviously it wouldn’t exist at all if not for this misconceived fondness, but they didn’t think their way through this problem)

  14. 44
    katherine on 6 Jul 2015 #

    No comments on Independent Women (Part 2)? People tend to forget it exists as it’s an album track that samples Willy Wonka and the tie-in caused some fuzziness in terms of what is in fact Part 2, but all the “is Beyonce feminist? Well?!? WELL???” discussions should have been pre-empted by that track long ago. It outright goes “if you’re independent I congratulate you — if you AIN’T IN LOVE, I congratulate you.” That blew my mind as a kid.

  15. 45
    katstevens on 6 Jul 2015 #

    The early DC singles were huge for us lot – I was still indie-snob-extreme but even I liked singing along (or attempting to, at least) to Bills Bills Bills and Say My Name in the car. I also loved Charlie’s Angels to the maxx, especially the ridiculous Smack My Bitch Up fight scene, so full of ham you could start a deli counter. But Independent Woman Part 1 is probably my… fifth(?) fave single of theirs – how in any universe is it better than GET ON THE BUS? (28 years old I was Stew etc)

  16. 46
    Susanna on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Reading through these comments makes me wonder – what proportion of the commenters on this site are women? I get the feeling that it’s largely male (as it also seems to be at Popjustice) but it’s hard to tell from usernames alone. It seems interesting that a lot of current writing about pop music – which is very often associated with young women – is being done by men. Or am I just not looking in the right places?

    As for this song – I was 25 in 2000, and by my own standards, an independent woman – I certainly bought my own shoes and watches. Re-listening to this song now brings back vague recollections of feeling puzzled, back in 2000, that the song defined female empowerment as earning money and buying things. I certainly didn’t know many women who aspired to find a man to support them financially, which seems to be what this song is railing against. However, I didn’t own a house or a car (and still don’t, and quite possibly never will), so I probably don’t pass the Destiny’s Child Independent Woman Test in any case.

    It’s a likable song, and the Charlie’s Angels inserts don’t bother me – I never saw the film so there are no good or bad associations to come with them. It’s not one I’ve ever felt compelled to listen to though – if I’m in the mood for Destiny’s Child I’d either go back to the earlier singles mentioned, or to the later ‘Lose My Breath’, my fave of theirs. I’d give Independent Women a 6 or 7 I think.

  17. 47
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Jul 2015 #

    “As for professionalism, I believe – or rather, I know from personal experience – that it’s entirely possible to hit deadlines, keep colleagues and clients satisfied, produce a high-quality end product and generally do a bang-up job, while slacking off for part of the day. You just need to be organised about it.”

    Yes, we know – everyone knows. That’s what’s called “a job”. But that’s orthogonal to “I have my first job and I’m happy because I’m getting paid”.

  18. 48
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Susanna – I won’t defend FT, but a decent start on the right places would be http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com (which is not historically short of FT contributors, but a while back had a specific diversity drive in a way that wouldn’t really suit FT).

  19. 49
    Tom on 6 Jul 2015 #

    #46 “Horribly low” is the answer to your question, unfortunately. A handful of regulars, a few more occasionals, but the brutal truth is the ratio is probably 1:10 for commenters. Dreadful. And as the guy writing it, and as such steering the comments discussion, I have to take the blame for that. It’s especially embarrassing because Popular wouldn’t and couldn’t exist in its current form without inspiration from an enormous list of women writers who I’ve read or followed online for years, on alt.music.alternative, ILM, LiveJournal and especially Tumblr.

    The good news is there is a lot of very good writing about current pop around right now by women. As well as what seems to me gradually increasing numbers of women writing about it professionally, the non-professional sector – from the Singles Jukebox to Tumblr projects like One Week One Band – is trying very hard to spotlight women. Like Andrew says, TSJ is a good place to start: find a byline you like, and the chances are she’ll be writing elsewhere, paid or not.

  20. 50
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Also this will probably be the best place (not just for Phil-trolling) to say that it’s a shame we won’t get to discuss anything from Josie and the Pussycats.

  21. 51
    Susanna on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Thank you Tom and Andrew Farrell! Following both on Tumblr now. (I did used to follow One Week One Band but had unfollowed for some reason).

    I had started to wonder whether women in general feel disinclined to blog about pop due to the fact that many women face ridicule for their taste in music – especially as teens – if it leans in the chart pop direction, especially boy bands etc. I am glad to find that this seems not to be the case! I may have a go myself once I’ve finished with my infernal PhD. (I very, very briefly had a chart commentary site of my own back in 1996, called ‘Straight In At Number One… Again’ which I thought was the height of wit at the time.)

  22. 52
    katstevens on 6 Jul 2015 #

    Maybe I should start a new Tumblr about ‘Get On The Bus’ #nevernotreadyforthisjelly

  23. 53
    Ronnie on 6 Jul 2015 #

    I… really don’t like this song.

    Part of it is that Beyonce is still very young and I think she’s a very callow singer up until her first solo album, and if we meet her on this blog before then I’ll have the opportunity to expound because “Independent Women” starts what I consider the worst phase in Beyonce’s career.

    As for celebrating “independence,” I can only think of this song and others like it (Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” especially) as propaganda, similar to celebrating women who don’t smoke and stay in school.

    It doesn’t help that every time I try to remember this song, I think of the far more memorable “Jumpin Jumpin” instead. 4

  24. 54
    pink champale on 7 Jul 2015 #

    It seems ike a lot of you here, I was a bit disappointed after WOTW’s Dispatches from our Cyborg Future to get something that was, well, just a very good record. But it is a very good record. I think my favourite incarnation is the 2many DJs Dreadlock Holiday mash-up – the two songs’ breakdowns chiming together perfectly makes my spirits lift every time.
    @51 – It’s depressing how early the default assumption that any cultural product that is aimed at or liked by women is contemptable kicks in. there’s now clearly a massive playground backlash against Frozen to the extent that my six year old daughter and her friends all vie with each other to say how much they hate it, only occaisionally allowing themselves to admit that actually they don’t. you never see the same thing with all the rubbish my son likes (except the general thng of hating something once it’s seen as babyish of course).
    I’m another forty-something bloke btw. and I sometimes slack off at work, but don’t really think that means I’m sticking it to the man.

  25. 55
    Tommy Mack on 13 Jul 2015 #

    So I listened to WOTW, damn that’s some good stuff. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the ‘automo-bills’ wordplay of Bills, Bills, Bills. The pile-up of petty frustrations seems very relatable too. Fair play for starting with a skit that’s actually funny for once, I don’t know why but ‘Beyonce Corleone’ made me laugh out loud. I like the idea of it being a concept album about relationship rules too.

    I’d never properly listened to the lyrics of Say My Name before, I always thought it was ‘acting kind of shady, keep calling me baby’ so Say My Name meant treat me like an individual, not your baby, rather than ‘aint calling me baby’ [because you’ve most likely got another woman there], such a recognisable situation, I’m surprised no-one wrote about it before.

    The album must have been a deluxe reissue cos it had IW parts 1 and 2 tacked on the end. I think I prefer pt2: more spiky, lyrically and musically. Sounds like they wrote that first then rehashed a less uncompromising version for the Charlie’s Angels tie in. Though pt1. is still fairly rousing, fiscal cynicism aside. Interesting that Tom mentioned Gang Of Four, I remember reading (in Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again iirc) someone possibly one of GoF themselves) criticising the scene around the band for their brand of feminism where ‘women became harder and drier like the men, men didn’t become softer and gentler like women’ (a sexist statement in itself no doubt) Seems plenty of people here are accusing DC of peddling a similar line here: women can compete with men, but only on male terms, being a baller, a player, a money maker.

  26. 56
    Ed on 13 Jul 2015 #

    @55 Haha yes I always had the same mishearing of ‘Say My Name’. I think I still prefer our original version, TBH.

  27. 57
    Mark M on 13 Jul 2015 #

    Re55/56: Likewise.

  28. 58
    Tommy Mack on 13 Jul 2015 #

    55/56/57 My first instinct is to say ‘ha, I was right’ but I’m loathe to start a game of Men Telling Women How They Should Be Doing Feminism. The argument for the recorded version compared to our mishearing is in the pragmatic outlook Tom mentions: as men we have the luxury of engaging with feminism in the abstract or at least in the third person. If you’re on the wrong end of dudes’ dickbaggery ‘prove to me that you’re not cheating’ might well be a more pressing concern than ‘stop undermining my autonomy in pernicious, probably unintentional ways’

    None of which should obscure the fact that in the court of public opinion I AM A BETTER FEMINIST THAN BEYONCE. And probably more bootylicious too. In fact Beyonce’s dad picking her over me to be lead singer of Destiny’s Child just proves how ridden with corruption and nepotism the music business is.

  29. 59
    Andrew on 14 Jul 2015 #

    #55 yes, there was a re-release with IW. The first edition of the album had included a bonus CD with No No No Part 2, meaning there were versions of the album featuring singles from their preceding and following albums.

  30. 60
    Tom on 14 Jul 2015 #

    #55-58: Don’t worry lads, there is a mid-00s number one which will satisfy your need for a song addressing this point (unless I misheard that, not unlikely since at the time I completely hated it).

    Actually the misreading opens the door to an even soapier interpretation of the “he’s cheating” idea which doesn’t also require you to ignore the entire rest of the song. Say the woman he’s with knows full well he already has a regular girlfriend, but doesn’t know who she is – so he “keeps calling me baby” rather than her actual name: enough to raise the singer’s suspicions. But why not use her name? Because the woman there with him IS THE SINGERS BEST FRIEND ZOMG.

    It makes you wish Destiny’s Child had had the idea to do Trapped In The Closet.

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