Beyoncé is not overrated

And to say so is problematic.


by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Opinion Editor

Beyoncé Gisele Knowles Carter has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, unbeknownst to her. My grandmother can recall a time when I referred to her as my best friend every time I saw her on a magazine cover or album cover art. Even at a young age, I could recognize the bright star power that shone through every performance she gave.

As she’s grown as an artist, I’ve watched her evolve and turn into one of the greatest performing artists of all time. However, for some reason, the phrase “Beyoncé is overrated” is one I seem to hear more and more when I bring up her performances over a friend’s house or came back to school in awe of her latest feature. Even as Beyoncé continuously creates cultural phenomena with her albums and iconic performances like Coachella 2018, people continuously invalidate her. To say you don’t necessarily like Beyoncé is confounding, but understandable. However, to deny her talent and cultural impact as one of, if not the most, defining artist of our time is inherently problematic.

Beyoncé symbolizes part of a larger issue, which is one black woman throughout history have had to face. I’m sure as women, many of us have heard we must work twice as hard to receive even close to the same recognition as our male peers. However, for women of color, it is in the intersection of both racism and sexism that we must attempt to not only survive but thrive. The idea that Beyoncé has not earned her fanbase or critical acclaim, or even more radical ones like the groups that think she is a Satanist or a member of the Illuminati, all stem from the notion that Black women do not ever earn any position in which they are considered the paradigm of their trade.

I do not know of any artist alive who could have produced a performance like Coachella 2018, endearingly called “Beychella” by many. It was an encapsulating experience, even to one like me watching it on my phone at one in the morning. More than just a performance, Beyoncé incorporated the band and majorette culture of HBCUs, a Malcolm X speech, a lyrical piece set to a Maya Angelou poem, several outfit changes, and 100 dancers all on one stage.

Beyoncé works extremely hard and has a catalog of work that gets increasingly better with every solo project, every tour and even the features she gifts other artists with. She is also a talented songwriter, being the first black woman to ever win Songwriter of the Year from The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (also known as ASCAP).  She wrote “Survivor” for Destiny’s Child, one of the most iconic and empowering pop songs to date. She increasingly has writing credits on all of her albums, and many of her collaborators in music, fashion, or choreography attest to her creative input throughout their work. She is the recipient of 23 Grammy awards and 63 nominations. Her presence in music for the past two decades is undeniable. As a songwriter, producer, and performer, Beyoncé sets a standard. To call her overrated is to ignore her work ethic, impact, and talent.

I understand that for many, Beyoncé may not be their cup of tea. However, I have noticed that calling Beyoncé overrated is rarely sentiment I hear from black women. Although she may not be their favorite artist, many can identify with the message at the core of her songs and the passion and hard work she puts into every release. When one refers to Beyoncé as overrated, with no proof to bolster that opinion, it is nonsensical. What is the “rating” for an artist who many others look up to? This is the artist who brought Adele to rip her Grammy in half, knowing the true Album of the Year was Lemonade. Why is it that we can so rarely, as a society at large, give women of color the credit they are due?

This idea is one that is prevalent throughout our country. Black women are officially the most educated demographic overall in this country. However, that is still not reflected in leadership positions in business, legislative government, or any other area of employment of which I’m aware. Art is entirely subjective, but to deny Beyonce’s talent, creativity and impact on the 21st-century musical canon as a whole is bordering on delusional. Women of color are the foundation of this country, and Beyoncé is part of that. So let’s give credit where credit is due.