The pop space can be an incredibly reductive space for women. Instead of celebrating females for their diverse contributions to music, we prefer pitting them against each other–creating faux, kitschy cat fights and comparing them down to the last sequin. Most of the comparisons between chanteuses stem from the simple fact that they’re women. Or, in some cases, Black.
Enter Wendy Williams, troll du jour. The gossip queen took it upon herself to contrast Rihanna and Beyoncé on her talk show today, asserting RiRi will never reach the same legend status as Bey. “Rihanna will not be a legend,” Williams said. “Beyoncé will do her residency in Vegas at 55 years old, and you will go see her…Rihanna is good for right now.”
Let’s slide past the obvious issue of Wendy Williams offering music commentary and focus on something more pressing: The f-ckery of comparing Rihanna and Beyoncé for surface-level reasons. It’s happened before, but it really doesn’t need to happen again. It’s 2016, people. We’re better than this.
They’re two completely different artists.Def Jam/Columbia
Rihanna is a rock star. Beyoncé is a glam diva. Rihanna is splashy, fashion-centric and arguably single-driven. Beyoncé is an album artist who focuses on her vocals and precision dancing. Rihanna is Madonna. Beyoncé is Whitney Houston. Their music and styles couldn’t be any more vastly different, but both deserve respect. Somehow, though, we can’t stop correlating them, which leads us to…
We’re only comparing them because they’re Black.Getty Images
Yes, females in music are compared no matter what their race, but it’s more of a consistent issue with Black women. (When is the last time you compared Britney Spears and Taylor Swift?) Because the pool of Black ladies in mainstream music is smaller, the comparisons are sharper and stronger–albeit unwarranted. It’s lazy, problematic and downright stupid.
It trivializes each of them.Giphy
Comparing Bey and RiRi–or any two female artists, for that matter–encourages the notion that their only professional purpose is to win. Defeat the competition. Dominate as the one and only pop queen. When “Formation” dropped, Internet vermin spun the idea Rihanna was pissed because the video overshadowed her album Anti. (But, in reality, why would she be upset when Anti’s numbers were already bomb?) The conversation shifted from, “Listen to Rihanna’s great album!” to “Rihanna is angry because of Beyoncé.” And how fair is that?
It will only cause unnecessary tension between the artists…and their fans.Giphy
Something similar happened between Michael Jackson and Prince in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Flimsy comparisons between the two titans led to actual heat between them. Rihanna and Beyoncé will probably never actually fight, but the constant beef dialogue certainly doesn’t help forge a friendship. (Which explains why the two kept their distance during the Tidal launch last year.)
Both can be legends.Giphy
Who says Beyoncé and Rihanna both can’t have Vegas residencies down the line? RiRi has been doing her damn thing since 2005, shifting looks and churning out the most No.1 singles of any artist in history. Beyoncé etched out her space, too, as an untouchable performer with angelic vocals and records that stand the test of time. Each woman is slowly reaching legend status in her own (different) right. Bow down, bitches.
Did you catch Beyonce’s “Formation” video when it dropped? Check out our tutorial on how to get the Queen’s signature dark lip look in the clip below.