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Introduction <ul><li>Beyonce Knowles is a world-famous A merican R&B/pop recording artist, actress and fashion designer. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child (the world's second best-selling girl groups of all time, behind the Spice Girls). </li></ul><ul><li>Among a large group of awards and accolades, she was ranked first on Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential musicians in the world, and was listed as ‘Artist of the Decade’ by the Observer in 2009. </li></ul>
Biography <ul><li>Knowles joined girl group Girl’s Tyme through her performing arts school in Houston, with whom she rehearsed vehemently in search of a record deal, performing at many concerts as an opening band for other local R&B groups. </li></ul><ul><li>After finally changing their name to Destiny’s Child, the group were eventually signed to Columbia Records in 1996, when Knowles was still just a young girl. </li></ul><ul><li>In the late 90s, they released their eponymous, platinum selling debut album, and followed it up quickly with the release of their breakthrough record ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’, which has sold more than 15 million copies. </li></ul>
Biography <ul><li>After some legal dispute and a new lineup, the group released one more album (2001’s Survivor) before going on a hiatus to pursue their solo careers. </li></ul><ul><li>At this time, Knowles also starred in Goldmember, an Austin Powers film with Mike Myers, starting her fruitful acting career. </li></ul><ul><li>In June 2003, Knowles released her debut solo album, ‘Dangerously in Love’ to astonishing commercial success. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowles then reunited for one last album with her group, the appropriately titled Destiny Fulfilled, and then dissolved the group after one final global tour. </li></ul>
Biography <ul><li>In the following years, Beyonce starred in more films (including Dreamgirls and the Pink Panther) and two successful follow up albums, B’Day (2006) and I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008). </li></ul><ul><li>Through her acting, music and subsequent global tours, Knowles became one of the world’s top earning celebrities, supported through her endorsement deals and work in fashion. </li></ul><ul><li>Recently, she released her fourth album, ‘4’, and in August 2011, she broke the record for "most tweets per second recorded for a single event“ on Twitter, receiving 8,868 tweets per second after announcing her pregnancy at the MTV awards show. </li></ul>
Album Covers <ul><li>The album cover art for each of her 4 LPs show clearly how her visual image has been changed regularly over the years, to keep fans interested and to enhance her star persona. </li></ul>
Music <ul><li>Beyonce’s music is known for her impressive voice, combining influences including Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. </li></ul><ul><li>“ None of her rival pop divas can match Beyonce's genius for dragging her vocal lines against a hip-hop beat ” </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporating a variety of styles, including funk, hiphop and soul into her R&B, the music provides a platform for her emotional vocals to create a simultaneously catchy and impressive song </li></ul><ul><li>"There’s no question that Beyonce is one of the best singers in pop, maybe one of the best alive...[However] as judicious as her singing can be, the effect in sum is still like being hit in the head with a fist in a velvet glove." </li></ul>
Film <ul><li>Beyonce’s film roles have enforced her image as an all-conquering, empowered female, successful in every avenue she decides to pursue. </li></ul>
Development of image <ul><li>As I covered with the album art, and as is clear from all the pictures here (see next slide in particular) of Beyonce, her image changes regularly. </li></ul><ul><li>This enables more interaction with her fans, enlarging and strengthening her fanbase. It also allows more cross-media exposure, from her films and advert work to coverage in tabloids and fashion magazines. This keeps fans more interested in her, builds up her ‘hype’, and ultimately enhances her ‘star persona’. </li></ul><ul><li>Much of her early image was focused on her being a strong woman singer, working solo for the first time. Her stage shows were “a complete package of voice, moves and presence”, and her voice was, compared to other female popstars, placed much more in the foreground of her image. However, that is not to say that there is nothing sexual about her constructed image. Indeed, voyeuristic pleasures are a massive feature of Beyonce’s image, especially as her career has gone on. </li></ul>
Development of image <ul><li>However, as her popularity became global and almost unparalleled, she revealed her on stage alter-ego, ‘Sasha Fierce’, who is “too aggressive, too strong, too sassy and too sexy”. Beyonce said that “I created my stage persona to protect myself so that when I go home I don't have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn't me”, meaning that that her famously sexy, seductive and provocative stage performances were just a construction as part of her image as a popstar, and not necessarily the way that she personally acts. </li></ul><ul><li>In early 2010, Beyonce said that "Sasha Fierce is done. I killed her." She then went on to say that she is comfortable enough with herself to be all of those things without an alias, stating that “I've grown and now I'm able to merge the two." </li></ul>
Beyonce and Feminism? <ul><li>One common, but confusing trope of Beyonce’s visual (and lyrical) style is her attitudes towards love, dependence, female empowerment and sexual natures, which seem to metamorphose endlessly between slutty, lonely, free, lovelust, helpless and driven, with no telling what lyrics are personal reactions to her own life and what are general comments about anonymous relationships. However, as one reviewer commented, "whether charismatic and soulful, or teasing and flirty, Beyonce is, above all, in charge” </li></ul><ul><li>That said, it is possible to see an overarching change when ignoring a few anomalous songs. Knowles has stated that having Jay-Z in her life has changed a few of her thoughts about how men and women relate to one another, which helped her transition from writing songs such as "Independent Women" and "Survivor" to man-tending anthems such as, "Cater 2 U" in which she sings about bringing him slippers and drawing his bath. </li></ul>
Recently… <ul><li>Her most recent collection of songs, 4, was rumoured to have caused a rift within record company managers, as an alleged parting from her poppier roots and less “massive hits” made executives nervous. </li></ul><ul><li>From my perspective, it is always a good thing in terms of popstars when label bosses get scared, because it means they are being more experimental, creative and free – to create the music they love. This is evidence that Beyonce is no longer just a popstar puppet, but actually does have musical influence and a controlling hand in her own life. </li></ul><ul><li>This demonstrates Beyonce’s much celebrated independence. </li></ul>
Image as you can see, Beyonce constantly re-updates her image to suit her musical direction, career path, or simply for a new haircut to keep fans interested.
Two Music Videos <ul><li>Crazy in Love: </li></ul><ul><li>Run the World (Girls): </li></ul>
Music Video Comparison <ul><li>I chose these two videos as respectively, they are her first ever single and the first from her newest album, giving me an opportunity to demonstrate how her star image and visual style has developed. </li></ul><ul><li>In ‘Crazy in Love’, the music video is used to establish fundamental conventions of female pop-music videos. The star is objectified and anatomised into certain sexual body parts by closeups , with male star Jay-Z used to represent the controlling, voyeuristic male gaze (symbolised by the burning car in the background). On another scopophilic note, there are several references to photography, heightening her image as a superstar. The video is entirely performance based, with her dance moves providing entertainment, rather than a coherent narrative. Indeed, the variety of locations and costume styles seem conflicting, painting the picture of her range of personalities and visual styles rather than illustrating the song. </li></ul>
Music Video Comparison <ul><li>In contrast, the militaristic video for ‘Run The World’ focuses entirely on the concept behind the song, of female empowerment. There are elements of a fragmented narrative, of a figurative ‘battle of the sexes’ made literal. Beyonce’s star image is enhanced through her constructed leadership of the enter gender, with the camera being oddly restrained, with many static, wide shots of Beyonce (framed centrally) surrounded by her army of female dancers in a spacious rather than claustrophobic post-apocalyptic location. In this video, there are a few sly self-referential clips, including a car blowing up and some of the dance moves from Crazy in Love. One reviewer claimed that this video, with its focus on female sexuality as a power over men (demonstrated by her dancing seductively towards the passive, anonymous male army), has brought with it the “fourth wave of feminism”. </li></ul><ul><li>Although this idea may be a bit extreme, it does indicate Beyonce’s influence not just within her own music, or the music industry, but as a cultural icon and superstar. </li></ul>