Mostly, I consider myself a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. The only difference between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's whimsical detective and myself, however, is that the only mystery I'm interested in solving regards the enigmatic phenomena known only as "Beyonce." As I and countless others of Destiny's Children have addressed before, we may never really know Beyonce, what makes the Bootylicious one tick, or the secrets that have fueled her illustrious career (besides a whole lotta Pepsi™, of course). We will also never know why an en-wombed Blue Ivy Carter folded in half when Momma Bey sat down that one time, so just get over it. Some mysteries not even I can solve.
The current conundrum, though, revolves not around Bey and her potentially alien spawn. No, today's riddle has to do with a much more enthralling aspect of Beyonce: her new music, or more specifically, her lack of new music. Let's call it "The Case of the Missing Beyonce Single."
To crack this case, we have to go all the way back to late January of this year, when SuperStorm Beyonce once again made devastating landfall on the coastlines of our collective consciousness. This hurricane was a massive whirlwind of million-dollar weaves, studded leotards and expertly choreographed hip thrusts, all designed to beat into our puerile, pedestrian human brains that Beyonce is our God now so stop it with this outdated Jesus shit, dammit, and show some respect! Also, it was ostensibly about the launch of Beyonce's long-awaited 5th studio album.
Hurricane Beysus was highlighted by a 1-2-3 punch of long-planned events. First up was Beyonce "singing" the National Anthem at President Obama's second inauguration and then singing it again at a Super Bowl press conference that seemingly only existed to explain why she merely "sang" it the first time. Second was Beyonce performing for the 100 million-plus people watching the Super Bowl, a jaw-dropping spectacle that subsequently, and very literally, saw the Countess Carter suck the power out of the SuperDome. It was all capped of with the release Life Is But A Dream, an HBO "documentary," "directed," "produced by" and "starring" "Beyonce" andonly Beyonce, thank you very much. Early 2013 was basically label-sanctioned Beyonce-mania. Even my grandma was all like, "Dayum, that Bianca lady can cut a rug!"
Now, there's a reason I mention that these events were "long-planned." "What is the reason, Louie?" is the query bouncing around in your skull right now, right? Great question! The reason I bring that fact up is that, as anyone with a passing familiarity with the music industry or any other industry knows, a brand like Beyonce's goes from being relatively low-profile (i.e. not being literally everywhere), to assaulting public awareness with high-profile appearances (i.e literally being everywhere) when it's ready to drop some new product. We live in a society where art is nothing if not a vehicle for capitalism, after all.
Beyonce announced she was performing on the Super Bowl way back in October, meaning it was probably planned months prior to that. Music-lovers, then, can only deduce that team-Bey was almost definitely thinking ahead to a massive album roll-out, the follow-up to 2011's excellent 4 that had been rumored to be in production for over a year. After all, Madonna had used her Super Bowl performance the year before to hawk her new (awful/ham-fisted/despicable) Nicki Minaj and M.I.A-assisted debacle "Gimme All Your Luvin'" and the Black Eyed Peas had done the same thing the year prior with their new (awful/ham-fisted/despicable) single "The Time (Dirty Bit)." When you're a multimillion dollar industry at the peak of your powers like Beyonce, you don't pass up an opportunity to promote new shit in front of the biggest audience known to man. RIGHT? RIGHT!
Except no, WRONG! Curiously, BeyBey did pass that opportunity up. The Super Bowl, as well as the subsequent documentary, came whizzing by at a hundred miles an hour without even a hint of new music. Months of drought then followed, where the citizens of earth toiled the fields, digging relentlessly for new fruits of the "Crazy In Love" or even the "Run the World (Girls)"-variety, but finding nary a seed. All we had to sustain us were rapidly receding memories of past singles of yore, ethereal "Halo" flashbacks, and sitting alone in our rooms on Friday night watching the "Diva" video on repeat while poorly imitating the crunked-out dance sequence, sometimes naked, until realizing that that our neighbors could see us through the window and then feeling massive shame about how we use our personal time.
Then some really weird shit started to happen. It's almost like Knowles Airways Flight #5 went spinning completely out of control and not even Mama Tina could jump into the pilot's seat in time to save this crashing tin can. First, Beyonce apparently discovered Soundcloud in late March and posted a song (I think that's what you'd call it?), entitled "Bow Down / I Been On," a diptych which was half some sort of weird Rihanna-esque pop-trap confection the main thrust of which, as the title suggests, was Beyonce asking other ladies to bow to her (which we all already do, so moot-point, 'Yonce). The second section was an even weirder opera - southern rap hybrid which found Beyonce droning on in a low-pitched, vocodered voice about how she was in a Willy D video at some point in her childhood (who wasn't?) and how she and Kelly Rowland apparently preferred UGK songs to Mother Goose stories before bed. No one was really sure what to make of this whole escapade, but we had to figure it was best forgotten. This was clearly not the big Beyonce comeback single we had all been salivating for.
In April, we were graced with a Pepsi commercial in which Bey talked to many versions of her past-selves (in a totally not insane way) while a snippet of new track, a snappy little up-tempo number which we have since learned is called "Grown Woman," played in the background. "Oh, this is it girl, it's comin', let's get it!" all my fellow sleuths and I screamed to one another in unison. But nope. Weeks passed again with no full version of "Grown Woman" (unless you were lucky enough to live in Pairs and could afford to fork over $250 to see her perform it live on her current "Mrs. Carter Show" World Tour) and our hearts sank deep into our empty, malnourished (with high-end pop music) stomaches.
Then we got yet another snippet in yet another new song in yet another massive advertising campaign, a Sia-penned track called "Standing on the Sun" which premiered in Beyonce's new H&M television spots. "Ladies, this is for real! The time is close at hand! Bey wouldn't do us like that again! " the faithful reassured one another in church that following Sunday.
But, low and behold, Bey flipped right around and did us like that again. The days dragged by with no full version of "Standing on the Sun" on the horizon.
So that brings us about up to speed on the basis for today's puzzle wrapped inside riddle coated with a dilemma the runs as deep as Beyonce's pockets, lined with Pepsi™ Money. All of which has left us asking "Who has kidnapped Beyonce's new single and how do we free it?" I have a couple of my own theories:
1. Beyonce, her label, The Jigga Man, Blue Ivy, Solange, etc, doesn't like any of the new Beyonce songs and Beyonce herself has kidnapped all the new Beyonce songs until something perfect, or "Beyoncical" if you will, comes along. But this seems way too rational, so....
2. Blue Ivy is prepping her debut album and Beyonce has detained her new music so as not overshadow the potentially even greater work of her future offspring / gold-plated meal-ticket. OR, maybe...
3. Blue Ivy is herself Beyonce's, extremely experimental, new album. Albums are babies now! Or something, I'm still working on this one...
4. Beyonce is mad at us (Justin Timberlake punished us until I -- er, we -- demanded he treat us better, so there's a precedent here) Look, I can't say for certain, but could Beyonce potentially be punishing us for not buying enough copies of 4? For elevating her decidedly less-talented foil Rihanna to such illustrious heights? For being under-prepared, in her estimation, for this jelly? For not putting her Love on Top? For not putting a ring on it despite the extent to which we definitely liked it? You get the idea, however I must point out....
5. Gwyneth Paltrow. Look, I just do not trust Paltrow and you shouldn't either. She seems way too jazzed about being Beyonce's friend and something's fishy. If she is not the main perp here, she is most definitely an accomplice, she's a bad influence on Bey and I am way, super onto you, Gweny. That said, I'm personally partial to this next one....
6. Beyonce is in fact, as she has previously hinted, a schizophrenic. One of her personalities, the kind-hearted heroine Beyonce, longs to bestow new music upon her minions, but her nemesis personality, the dastardly, money-hungry Sasha Fierce is all ,"oh hell nah, we're not releasing anything without a plentiful ransom from Pepsi™. Now back up people!" And, as is well-documented, Sasha Fierce is one pop scion who is not to be messed with (*cue "evil laugh" track*).
So those are my exceedingly professional hypotheses about just where the Beyonce single may be hiding out. Also, word on the street today is that Beyonce just might very well be with child again, which could low-key explain everything and render this entire piece completely useless. But as of now that is unconfirmed, so moving forward! I have sent out the Amber Alert, but as I've always said: two (million) minds are better than one, so what are your (non-natal) guesses?