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Two songs from Beyoncé Knowles’ new self-titled album, “Flawless” and “No Angel” will be used for the purpose of discussing the individual messages and musical composition, as well as for explaining the overall impact of the audio and visual album as an entity to…
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SCREENING JOURNAL: BEYONCÉ’S VISUAL ALBUM AND FEMINISM Screening Journal: Beyoncé’s Visual Album and Feminism Two songs from Beyoncé Knowles’ new self-titled album, “Flawless” and “No Angel” will be used for the purpose of discussing the individual messages and musical composition, as well as for explaining the overall impact of the audio and visual album as an entity to audiences from different cultural backgrounds. The first song for review is entitled “Flawless”, which is unexpectedly modern in comparison with the opening and ending parts of the video that shows clips of old talent shows having two dance groups: a young group of female African-Americans and in the last part a group of Caucasian American males. The song itself has an overall feel of R&B mixed with hip-hop or electronic dance due to the low vocal ranges of the song, the use of a hook and repetitive melody and lyrics, which are not usually heard from songs by Beyoncé. However, despite the R&B shell of the song, it delivers a strong, feminist message based on the cultural background of people of color, namely Beyoncé and featured artist Chimamanda Ngozi Adicihe and their cultural backgrounds as female African-Americans in modern US society. Such ideas are exemplified by the melodic lyrics “I took some time to live my life/ But don’t think I’m just his little wife” sung by Beyoncé and a section of the spoken lines by Adicihe: “But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage/ And we don’t teach boys the same?”(Knowles, 2013). Based on the context, the lyrics contain the message that female African-Americans are only taught of such things and not allowed to have and live their own aspirations, ideas that are strongly-questioned in the song and are subjects of criticism as well. The video may seem confusing for some due to the combination of new and old elements, with the beginning and endings showing an old talent show clip and the song itself showing a dance club where Beyoncé dances along with other people, as well as the inclusion of lyrics within the music video itself. However, despite seemingly-contradictory elements of the song, the opening and ending parts of the video are able to convey the message of needs for equality and feminism clearly, as it was seen in the last part that the male Caucasian-American group won by a star over the African-American female group, suggesting the societal bias against races considered to be the minority. These components can be observed and understood fully by viewers if they viewed the video from start to finish, and as such all elements (lyrics, vocal, visuals) are needed to convey the song’s message of empowerment to intended audiences.
While the song “Flawless” tells overtly the message that women, in particular African-American women need to be seen and heard as persons of equal standing with men, the song “No Angel” also in the album has similar message, but a bit covert. This song is slow R&B, with a higher vocal range than “Flawless”, with vocals and lyrics having greater drama despite fewer words reminiscent of Beyoncé’s other song “Listen”, and a music video which seems unable to support the message of the song since it is mostly of clips of males of color showing their tough exterior and of Beyoncé showing off herself in a mildly-sexual way. The covert feminism embedded in the song is implied through the embodiment of an idea of pushing a man to let down his defenses and tough exterior and letting a woman take control, as exemplified by the lyrics “I know I drive you crazy, but would you rather that I be a machine/Who doesn’t notice when you are late or lying” and “Stop acting so scared, just do what I tell” (Knowles, 2013). Whereas in “Flawless” the visuals strongly-support the message of the song, in “No Angel” the visuals are not necessarily that relevant in conveying the message of the song and may even create contradicting ideas to viewers, as such the music and lyrics are enough to give listeners an idea of the song’s various messages: that males must be thoroughly honest and respectful in dealing with their female partners since they are also capable of understanding their concerns; males are allowed to show weakness in front of their significant others; and that males must not overlook the importance of female influence and outlook when dealing with their problems. These messages are very relevant especially when considering the fact that feminism and feminist movements do not concentrate on female aspects alone, but also the way that men think and react to women empowerment as well. The context of the song “No Angel” speaks for the goals of feminist movement as a whole, that for feminism to be successful, males also have a great contribution to such endeavors since machismo or a patriarchal point-of-view somewhat negates the goals of feminism itself (Brown, 2013).
A lot of buzz and hype emerged surrounding famous R&B artist Beyoncé Knowles’ new self-titled album, and despite the fact that Beyoncé had various collaborations with other artists and producers, she is seen as the overall author of the audio and visual album since she sung the greater part of all the songs and she was the face in all the released music videos for the said album. Her album, both audio and visuals caused quite a stir within various feminist groups and circles because of the various messages on feminism that people from different backgrounds were able to see based on their own viewpoints (Brown, 2013). As a result, Beyoncé’s album generated mixed-feelings and reviews depending on the identity and cultural background of the reviewer, wherein some lauded her efforts in celebrating female African-American sexuality, while some admonish her and her album to be disgraceful and unbecoming of a decent woman (Danielle, 2013). As a final word, before bringing judgment over Beyoncé’s album and herself as a person, the overall context of her beliefs about female sexuality as well as her cultural background must be taken into consideration before giving a final verdict on the overall message of her album regarding feminism and its impact to all listeners from a wide range of cultures and beliefs.
References
Knowles, B. (2013). Beyoncé, New York: Parkwood-Columbia Records, R2877728.
Brown, K. (2013, December 17). We Dont Need to Defend Beyonces Feminism Anymore Because We Have Beyonce. Retrieved from NOISEY: http://noisey.vice.com/en_ca/blog/beyonce-feminism-new-album
Danielle, B. (2013, December 17). Dear Feminists: Just Listen to Beyoncé’s Album, Or Not. Retrieved from Clutch Magazine Online: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/12/dear-feminists-just-listen-beyonces-album/ Read More
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