Beyoncé, presented by Beyoncé on behalf of Beyoncé, starred in an intimate and slightly confusing 90-minute PSA that should tickle all those who believe in the lord and savior Queen B. With such an eventful Year of B thus far, would Life Is But A Dream answer all the nagging questions that keep us up at night, or simply reinforce the feeling that Beyoncé is a great and powerful alien we can never even dream of becoming?
There was plenty of performance videos to reinforce the latter, largely taken from her “Back to Business” shows in Atlantic City last May, as well as throwback footage of pre-Destiny’s Child Bey and Kelly Rowland and Blue Ivy’s first opportunity to mug for the camera. (Am I the only one who see a resemblance to Jay-Z, as well as Drake? I mean this in the best way possible.) After so much pre-show hype, I wanted to take a meticulous approach to watching Bey truly “reveal herself.” So what proved to be the most interesting, statistically speaking?
Number of times Beyoncé shoots herself straight from her MacBook Pro (a.k.a the bug-eyed lens):16
Number of times Beyoncé curses: 4. (How fitting!)
For BeyHive members, Life Is But A Dream was further proof that the 31-year-old is a strong and fiercely independent woman, whose commitment to perfection and professionalism flirts with destruction. Whether intentional or not, there’s a recognizable duality in her personal and professional selves: she openly expressed her fears about her pregnancy but later explains that having a child has changed her entire perspective on life; her decision to fire her father Matthew Knowles as her manager was a “business decision” to salvage their relationship, and yet, with the exception of a fleeting shot of Knowles holding his granddaughter, he is only mentioned when discussing her career. Her mother Tina, on the other hand, is a woman to be adored, and clearly Beyoncé’s biggest influence. Airing family laundry might be part of what Bey struggles with revealing to her fans, but there were many other breakout moments that made this worth staying in on a Saturday night.
THINGS WE’RE HAPPY SHE SHARED:
Personal Music Choices
From singing and dancing to “Lovefool” by the Cardigans with Solange and Kelly, to collaborating with hubby Jay-Z on a vacation duet, Beyoncé does listen to contemporary artists outside of her immediate family. Watching Bey and Jay serenade each other with Coldplay’s “Yellow” will be hard to beat in the inevitable Cutest Moment of 2013 race, as they share sweet touches and ad-lib (“JayJay I love you so”) whenever appropriate. Looks like your place in the inner circle is still safe, Chris and Gwen.
Real talk about real babies
Or “real” depending if you’re still on Team Bey Birther. Rumors surrounding surrogates and fake baby bumps were discussed, as well the miscarriage. “It’s hard to go through public experiences when you’re in the public eye because it’s hard to have closure,” she explained, describing her baby’s heartbeat as “the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard in my life.” Personal trauma sent her straight into the studio, and with lyrics like “I guess love wasn’t enough for us to survive/I swear I swear I swear I tried/You took the life right out of me,” you really can’t blame me for tearing up.
Forget talking about how brave Beyoncé is to talk about her miscarriage or be seen without makeup. The woman brought back a forgotten ’90s fashion statement while she was with child. Claire’s will never be able to repay her.
4 cuts that deserve another listen
Specifically “I Care” in the studio, and “End of Time” live at Revel Resort. Learn to love them if you haven’t already.
Beyoncé cuts her own hair! Until a demanding and ridiculous tour rider leaks, consider her one of those “down to earth” celebrities. Maybe it was all that time spent in Miss Tina’s salon?
Blue Ivy’s face.
I hoped this moment would have happened a little differently (me, laughing over bagels and mimosas with B & J, while little BIC sits on my lap and calls me “Auntie Em”) but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
The world will likely never quit making jokes about hip-hop’s ties to the Illuminati, but Beyoncé’s strongly religious–and deeply emotional–sign-off (“God is real and God lives inside of me and inside of all of us”) should cause conspiracy theorists to rethink their argument ever so slightly.
Beyonce shut down so many rumors tonight. The big ones were the pregnancy and illuminati thing. She had the baby and loves God!
— RoemelloWhite. (@IAmRoemello4) February 17, 2013
Hush all that illuminati crap with Beyonce’s name in it! God has brought her this far! #lifeisbutadream
— ?Christina Voynee? (@ChristinaVoynee) February 17, 2013
I think beyonce pretty much clearedup all those illuminati rumors !!! She believesin god !!! #lifeisbutadream
— (o.o) (@Kortneeeeee) February 17, 2013
Her other half
Aside from a few vacation shots and an excitable post-conception car ride, Hov’s presence is minimal. Rather than sit him down for an interview so he can gush about how beautiful and perfect and legendary his wife is, we’re left to appreciate the little moments in their relationship that have helped make it work for over 10 years. Along with their Coldplay duet, a snippet of Jay’s birthday party–filmed on December 4, 2006, either by a part-time archivist or an excited party guest–captures Bey’s feelings for her man:
You taught me how to be a woman, you taught me how to live, you taught me how to be a friend, you’ve given me so much in life, and there’s not enough, there’s not enough I can give you, I just want you to be happy and every year I’m even more in love with you and I want to spend everyday of my life with you.
Because it’s Beyoncé and she’s interested in shattering gender roles, we may have just witnessed their marriage proposal.
Baby bump. Hospital bed. Any questions? (Was this confessional shot the same as her miscarriage moment? Tuner thinks so!) Although it would have been more in-line with Beyoncé’s aesthetic to actually birth Baby Blue on camera during one of her performances.
Girls run the world, but she can’t do it alone
For all that’s said (by Beyoncé) about her struggles with perfectionism, she admits that she needs the help and support of others. “All I need is not me, because I can’t do it by myself,” she says to a director during a particularly stressful rehearsal when asked if she wishes she only had to deal with herself.
AND ALAS: THINGS WE WISH SHE TALKED ABOUT
Those “unoriginal” claims
While Bey showcases the “drama” surrounding rehearsals for her 2011 Billboard Awards performance, a set that was instantly memorable thanks to the color-blocked LED screens and complicated choreography, she fails to mention any of the associated controversy–namely, accusations her entire routine was heavily borrowed from Lorella Cuccarini’s performance in 2010. Same goes for her “Countdown” video and talk that she stiffs songwriters.
The real reason she fired her father
There’s a larger conversation to be had (how much do our celebrities really have to tell us?) but those who’ve followed the records and rumors likely want to know whether or not Bey’s decision to fire her dad had anything to do with her parents’ divorce and his fathering a child out of wedlock. (“A lot of the crazy things he did was necessary,” she says.) Ditto for the (terrible, horrible, no-good) gossip that Jay may have strayed from the hive in the past. Bey did include a live performance of “Resentment,” though, so do with that what you will.
Much of the frustration Beyoncé’s critics feel is based on her inability to truly open up and speak freely. Tonight, there was a lot of hinting at the divisive topics you and your friends have argued about over too many beers, but rarely the kind of head-on admission or clarification you could use as a mic drop among your inner circle. Since it was lauded as such a “real” and “intimate” look into the singer’s world, I think this all we’re going to get: an incredible, gorgeous, and masterfully edited look at a “perfect” life, with little room for vulnerability unless it can be used in a way that makes her appear more likable. Because how much do we need to be able to relate to our pop icons and how much do we simply want to be entertained? Maybe we should be grateful that she’s inviting us in at all, or maybe we should start worrying that her love affair with Apple computers will lead her to enter Timberlake territory with another social networking site. Tumblr and Facebook, get your pitch meetings ready.
[Photo: Getty Images; GIFs via Tumblr]