Yesterday Beyonce’s video for the opening track of her new album, 4, was unleashed upon the Internet, and, like everything Beyonce does it’s being talked about—a lot (move over Irene!). Opinions on the video are disparate and vehement, and it’s been proposed by more than one commentator that perhaps the video does not match the epic ballad. Well, I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong. That Beyonce, as one third of the directorial team on the “1 + 1” video is the ultimate Dreamboat That Could Do No Wrong. Bey is kicking goals, and “1 + 1” is a testament to The Queen and her team’s unwavering creativity, impeccable judgment in excess and restraint and their innate ability to capture the zeitgeist in a way that is both accessible and aspirational.
From the demure opening, where vision fades in and out of Beyonce’s glowing bust as she sings, to the full circle ending of her glittering face, “1 + 1” is perfection. Most importantly, the song is not lost in the visual, which I find a rarity in pop performances, wherein after watching I’m often left so stunned by an ostentatious video I have not even a hint of a clue as to what I’ve just listened to. If you can only appreciate “1 + 1” insofar as the aural pleasure isn’t subsumed by the visual (as gorgeous as it is), then maybe you can start to appreciate my point of view.
Now, let’s talk about how sexy Beyonce is. It’s a pared back sexy that is not often associated with Beyonce’s brazen dance moves, barely there costumes and ballsy attitude, but it speaks to the demure persona Beyonce embodies in public and with the press. Without the tight choreography, costuming, make up and entourage, Beyonce is vibrating on a differece frequency in “1 + 1”, but hot damn, is she vibrating. It’s a frequency that I think was entirely lacking from her last video effort, “Best Thing I Never Had”, which was beautiful but uninspired. Glistening, sultry and emotional, “1 + 1” is the most stripped down sexy Beyonce has ever been.
And that’s not to say it’s just a soft core porno (although I definitely thought about masturbation when I was watching it the first time)—the video comes equipped with close ups of B crying and being embraced in her man’s arms—she is both vulnerable and bare for her audience. With, of course, lashings of her signature showmanship, including her full lips against a wall of water, her hair flailing about in slow motion and her silhouette sensually throwing about ribbon-like sheets of fabric. It’s all the big things we’re used to seeing B doing boiled down into an elegant, pretty, sucincnt package.
BUT! What I really love is that as the music breaks down into an 80s-esque epic instrumental, the video follows suit, in a grand, cheesy way, employing psychedelic double vision in which Bey blows out smoke, is blindfolded, and lays enticingly in an American Beauty style ceiling of petals. B goes B, which is why she is The Queen—she is heavily referential, lending an air of unerring cool and cultural relevance to everything she does. Moreover, this is a testament to the fact that everything Bey does is marked with a sense of joy, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“1 + 1” proves that Beyonce knows how to be artistic and compelling without being high budget or explosive—which is damn hard to do in an industry that demands so much visual drama from its performers. Bey succeeds where others keep failing (um, Lady Gaga “Edge Of Glory” video anyone?), and that’s why she’s unsurpassable as pop music’s First Lady.