I know, I know. It almost seems blasphemous typing out that headline but someone has to say it. Beyoncé is not all that. And I want to preface this by saying she is an incredibly successful and inspiring woman, but as a performance artist, I believe she is on par with several other female artists. Queen Bey is often described as a cultural icon, but I’m not wholly sure she is as deserving of that title as other artists of this generation. Of course, this is simply my opinion (one not shared by many, I must say), and doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but alas, this is my blog so I can say what I want.
Today, Harper’s Bazaar revealed Beyoncé as their September 2021 cover star. In the cover story with the magazine, she discusses mental health, self-care and the influences behind her latest IVY PARK collection. The pop star looked gorgeous in head-to-toe designer looks and in a complete look from her new collection on an alternative cover.
Now my qualm with Beyoncé is not that she isn’t an amazing singer, because she undoubtedly is. She’s also got killer dancing skills and an incredible personal style. My problem with Beyoncé is the icon status we as a society gave to her when I don’t think she’s done anything particularly deserving of the title.
If we look back at other so-called “icons,” i.e. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna, etc., I feel that their contributions to the music industry and the overall culture at the time are much more obvious than Beyoncé’s. In the 1950s, Elvis Presley began gyrating his hips and young women everywhere practically lost their minds. He was dubbed the “King of Rock and Roll” and arguably laid roots for the rock and roll music we know today. A couple of decades later, Michael Jackson and Madonna, the “King and Queen of Pop” were taking over with their eccentric style and sound.
To me, it’s obvious why these people are called cultural icons. They pushed the established boundaries of their times with their music, fashion and dancing to create the music genres we know today, and I just do not see Beyoncé doing this. Sure, Lemonade was a masterpiece, but so are a lot of other albums from this decade. Like I mentioned previously, other black singers such as Summer Walker, SZA, H.E.R., to name a few, are putting out music just as incredible as Beyoncé but they don’t get nearly the hype. To put it simply, I don’t think Beyoncé has done anything groundbreaking enough to deserve the designation of a cultural icon.
Now, I don’t want to discredit Beyoncé and all of her success as I truly believed it is well-deserved. She’s sold millions of albums, performed at many sold-out arenas and has fans all over the world, and as a black women, I’m sure she’s had to work twice as hard to get to her position. But before we dub Beyoncé as a cultural icon, I would like to see just how much of an impression she’s made on this time period. Will future generations see Black is King as visual artistry? Will her 2013 Super Bowl halftime show go down as one of the greatest? For me, only time will tell if Beyoncé has truly made it to icon status.