At face value, I love the song and I am a huge Beyonce fan; so straight away you’ll know I’m going to be potentially hypocritical, and I usually say when I am. However, I have mixed feelings about Beyonce’s new song Formation.
When Beyonce’s self-titled LP came out I was one of the people that bought the vinyl and then built a shrine around it for a month, attempting to absorb its powers. Quite soon after this, I met a friend and her cousin for drinks and Beyonce came up in conversation. My two friends and I exclaimed at how amazing she was, but her cousin suggested something that I hadn’t really considered before. Someone, like Beyonce, who is incredibly popular, and has a lot of power via her fans; yet she doesn’t seem to use it to be outspoken for the good of women or people of colour. We had a very interesting discussion about that and it has stuck with me since. This little story will give you some context to this review.
I love the song! It is everything that Beyonce is and she’s talking to all the people that have said things about her and her family that are exaggerated or no one else’s business but her own.
You may have noticed that even though this song is about Beyonce’s life, almost everyone took it as Beyonce’s voice against the police brutality that happens in America against black American people. This is really only because of the music video.
Without it, the song becomes boastful and purely about Beyonce’s life. There is some audio in the beginning and end that seems to be taken from people that uploaded videos during hurricane Katrina. I’m not saying that she only and purely wrote this song only to remind us that she is a powerful woman of colour, we know that already. If you listen to the lyrics of the song alone, it’s still what it seems like. For example, there’s a lyric in the song that says:
“When he f*** me good I take his a** to Red Lobster, cause I slay”
I’m taking this line at face value but there are people that have suggested that this is to flip the roles of men and women when on a date, ie. traditionally a man takes a woman out to a date and then they may end up sharing a bed for the night.
I am being a little hypocritical because if this song is on the radio in a car I will sing this line at the top of my lungs and I will dance to this in a club, but that’s also the problem I have with it. People are treating it like John Lennon’s Imagine and it’s not anywhere near the same thing.
Beyonce doesn’t tend to be very vocal about anything controversial unless it’s in a song. When the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter ruled the internet a lot of people cried for help from people like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye etc. People of colour with a voice they can use for good but people also do forget that they are artists and musicians. Their job is really only to entertain and when they do it well people will listen to what they may have to say about other issues and it will be expected of them to do something about things they might have experienced if they didn’t end up entertaining for millions of people.
I’m glad that people were able to find a voice in this work (the song and video together) and I’m glad that they enjoyed it but sadly it may not mean that things will change because of this song. I’m hoping I’m wrong.
4 out of 5 stars.
Head of Music