Disclaimer (aka a Calm-The-Hell-Down-Addendum): Below is a seemingly unpopular opinion of Ms. Beyonce Knowles. While it is not pure hatred (I don't hate the lady, she just gives me a "meh" vibe in terms of vocal ability), the term "hater" might be thrown out by a few Beyonce stans. So, for all you "Hi, Hater" responders, please take a moment and actually consider that the critique just might be valid. People are far too comfy handing out this term and they never consider that the critique may have a point because they can't possibly fathom anything being wrong with a public figure they admire. Also, don't let the negative critique completely blind you to the fact that I'll have some good things to say about her below as well. But, uh, if you still want to toss out the "hater" label at me, by all means, go right ahead...but please believe you are also a hater for hating on my hating. ;)
So. I'm just gonna come right out and say it:
Beyonce. Can't. Sing.
Ok, maybe I should change that up a bit. Maybe it's more like:
Beyonce. Can't. Sang.
That's right, folks, I have not completely caught The Beyonce Bug. She does not really impress me as much as she does a lot of other people. Now, when I say I haven't "completely" caught The Beyonce Bug, it doesn't mean I hate each and every thing she has released to the public. Her songs are very catchy and a few of them are even shelved in my iPod Playlist as I type.
However, is she the best singer of her (and my) generation? I'm gonna take "No" for 200, Alex. Folks sure act like she is, though.
Thing is, her voice is perfect for pop songs at best. I do admit that she has a good "pop" voice and her voice is probably perfect for the upbeat, not-really-complex hit singles she usually disperses. She has a "pleasant" sounding voice, but a true diva-fied sanger, she is not. So, why is she now the go-to woman for power ballads as if she can even hold a tea candle to the original singer? To name one example: the choice to cast her as Etta James in the film, Cadillac Records. Now we know damn well she wasn't primarily chosen because of her stellar acting ability. It was more about her being a "sellable" actor. She's Beyonce, she of "She's So Famous She Doesn't Need A Last Name" status. Now, the second reason could be due to her voice. Now, in terms of acting, I'd say, yeah, she's a better singer in comparison. But, that ain't saying much if you factor in her alleged acting ability. Which is "zero", by the way, for those of you playing at home.
Recently, she -- for some reason unbeknownst to me -- was chosen to do an alleged MJ tribute at the BET awards by singing "Ave Maria" (along with a cover of "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan...another song I don't think she can efficiently touch). To this choice, I say, "WHAAAA?!". Do the producers at BET know the same "Ave Maria" ballad I know? That song is probably one of the most complex songs ever in terms of vocal range and they give Beyonce a stamp of approval to sing that song? That song requires an octave range that Beyonce couldn't even reach in a pair of her 6-inch stiletto heels.
Here is the audio from the performance (I don't think BET is allowing video to be posted on YouTube):
Even with her very own song, "Sweet Dreams", I notice she tries to go beyond her range. See link below:
Sweet Dreams YouTube Video (embedding is disabled by Beyonce/Sony)
At around 2:57, she attempts to reach a higher octave with the line, "Not even death can make us part". I cringed when I first heard it because I could hear the strain in her voice. I mean, are you serious? Is it really supposed to sound like that?
Look, it's not like I'm an older woman who wants to relive "the good old days" when music was better. I'm actually Beyonce's target audience to a T. I'm a 20-something single lady. However, I'm a 20-something single lady who does know what a real singer is and who is not easily impressed by what is being distributed to my peers today. And yeah, the bulk of the "real singers" happen to be during the "good old days". Ya know, when the instrumentals were natural and they complimented an already terrific voice instead of being digitized and studio-coated in order to support an "okay" voice.
I mean, what are the requirements for diva status these days? A pretty face, a bangin' body and a great studio voice? And don't get me wrong, it's not like we don't have terrific singers nowadays, it's just that they're not at the forefront...not like Beyonce. I know for one that songstresses such as Jill Scott or Jazmine Sullivan can single circles and spheres around Beyonce, yet you don't see their faces (or better yet, bodies) plastered over every single network/cable channel pretty much covering every song known to man.
And before folks start smacking me with Beyonce's lace front wig, I'm gonna say: Beyonce is pretty. She is. Even during her no-makeup days she is a cute lady. So, trust, I'm not one of those that automatically jump to saying, "Why are men fallin' all over her? She ain't even all that" regarding Beyonce. Contrary to popular belief, a critique of a fellow woman doesn't always have to be compared to her looks. But, I have to ask:
Are Beyonce's looks blinding us to the fact that her voice ain't really all that? To put it into perspective, let me point out a few of Beyonce's singing traits that cause people to faint as if the Holy Ghost has befallen them.
Things That Don't Necessarily Mean You Can Really Sing:
2. Grunting on certain words of the song to give it that "soul" or "diva" edge.
3. Vocal acrobatics that don't really makes sense beyond adding some type of "flair".
So, I have to ask, if Beyonce wasn't the Creole,
long-haired long-weaved, light-skinned, coveted waist-to-hip ratio, glamorized lady she is today and was instead, an average wholesome girl, would her voice be as praised as it is now?
This time, I'll take "Helllllll Naw" for 500, Alex.
Love ya like Beyonce loves dropping 371 singles a year,