In Defense of Beyonce’s “1 + 1”

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. TC mark


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  • TL

    The point of this piece is immediately weakened by the poor quality of its writing. Nothing for or against Bey, but if you’re trying to praise her work, Kat, you’re not presenting a mode of prose demonstrative of any Thoughtful™ care for her work.

  • Dan

    It’s a bit long for an underwear commercial.

  • Dan

    It’s a bit long for an underwear commercial.

  • kasie

    oh, word, Jay-Z writes for Thought Catalog?

  • Amanda Wood

    Forget the video that’s probably the worst song I’ve ever heard. Usually any romantic song can make me feel warm and fuzzy inside but the lyrics are the most generic, bland, boring lyrics I’ve ever heard. “I don’t know much algebra but I know 1 + 1 is two – that’s me and you”? Excuse me while I vomit from cheesy genericness. The video doesn’t match the song at all because the visuals in the video are great but the song is horrible. I’m disappointed.

    • wow

      You do know about Sam Cooke, right? Didn’t think so.

    • ew

  • karyn

    please agree that no matter what, her previous video is the worst, most laughable, country-music low budget “this is my first music video i’ve ever made” lookin’ piece of crap:

    • ew

      but its a pretty country-music type concept/theme when you think about it, no?

    • ew

      but its a pretty country-music type concept/theme when you think about it, no?

  • Quarterlifelady

    This video makes me feel high. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  • blipster11

    Stripped down and bare? With a blond wig, dewy, understated yet obviously heavily applied foundation? This is nothing out of the ordinary for someone as unoriginal and uninspired as her. Referential, yes because that’s all she does! Lorella Cuccarini anyone? Kylie Minogue? Sweet Charity? Major Lazer. And, those are the ones we know she has ripped off!  This is nothing more that her Euro-centric values and falsely original taste on display here. Beyonce gets so much of  the hype because she looks white but sounds black. PERIOD! But, u can’t say that to a Beyonce fan because then your a “hater”. Beyonce is merely a working class girl gone good who sees something that “inspires” her  and just appropriates it with her special brand of over the top fakery.  Entertaining? Maybe. If you don’t look beyond the realms of the top 40. But,  unwavering and impeccably creative. Try again Kat!

  • sweetpea

    The video is just a video. The song is the most terrible piece of trash I’ve heard in a long time. Someone gets paid for this crap?

  • macivor

    Man so much disrespect to beyonce in this comment thread. The album, and the song are not the same as her prior work and I feel like people feel let down by that. But, the lyrics are honest and she sings them with conviction. Sometimes good songs don’t have to be fabulous poetry if they are performed with emotion and truth. She is experimenting as an artist, which can only be healthy and I feel like a lot of this album is some of her most mature and well produced work. The video is amazing and she will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in pop music because she is not fearful of doing something that is not a sure sell.

  • Anonymous

  • Cailee


  • Jada

    She doesn’t know much about ‘algeba’


  • Anonymous

    Well written!

    Bey is wins every single time.

  • Michael Koh


  • Anonymous

  • CarmenR

    as a hairstylist, its killing me that you can see her weave at 2:10. What a budget mistake.

    • Plopman


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