I have a confession to make; I’m a hardened music journalist but I’ve finally admitted my love for Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. It may sound ridiculous but it’s my job to meet people like Madonna without drooling on her heels or finding myself so dumbstruck that I can’t conduct an interview. But when I attended the screening for Beyoncé’s Live At Roseland: Elements of 4 concert DVD late last year, I was not only rapt but in tears. Real tears. In a screening. What was wrong with me? I’m a journalist!
Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful and popular women in the world but it’s her behind-the-scenes cheesiness that I adore. From her high school-esque boyfriend boasting when Kelly Rowland asks ‘Who’s the hottest rapper?’ and she throws up now-husband Jay-Z’s diamond hand sign to her straight face while doing the running man at her lavish birthday party. Unlike Madonna, Beyoncé seems approachable and perhaps that’s because she’s close to my age. I’m 31 and around this time in your life, a fear sweeps your psyche demanding to know what you’ve done with your time and whether you’re happy.
“What do you after 16 Grammy’s and millions of records sold?” she asks.
Bey’s admission that she wondered the same thing was grounding — and not because I’ve done anything near her accomplishments — but rather because, honey, we’re all going through it. And thanks to her mother’s encouragement to enjoy her life, not just her career, she did just that which led to her latest album 4 and the production of this performance DVD.
Opening Live At Roseland, Beyoncé shares stories of her early days as part of Girl’s Tyme as old videos of the group on “Star Search” flash across the screen while she recalls how they were signed and dropped. Mrs. Carter smiles as she describes the emergence of Destiny’s Child and their Wyclef Jean-remixed first hit “No, No, No” and how later Columbia executives declare that her debut Dangerously In Love would be a lump of coal.
“After playing my records for the label they told me I didn’t have one hit single,” Beyoncé says. “I guess they were right, I had five.”
Next up was B’Day, her fun album with my favorite “Get Me Bodied,” followed by I Am … Sasha Fierce boasting “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it).” Bey then breaks down her numerology and love of the number four, pointing out that she, her husband, her mother and U.S. President Obama celebrate birthdays on a fourth day of their birth months.
“It was destiny … and on April 4, 2008, somebody put a ring on it!” Beyoncé says with her Houston drawl.
Despite the excitement of more contemporary 4 hits like “Party” and “Love On Top,” it’s the “I Was Here” montage that chokes me up. Mrs. Carter’s grappling with the question of purpose and hers in this world while shots of her accepting a talent show award as a tyke, winning her first Grammy, visiting the Egyptian pyramids, meeting Michael Jackson and performing with Prince and Tina Turner roll by. The raw emotion of the song juxtaposed with her achievements drive home how amazed even Beyoncé is at her path.
Now as Mrs. Carter tackles motherhood with newborn daughter Blue Ivy and her die-hard fans survive on photos of her in Chanel at her husband’s Carnegie Hall shows, I suggest another look at her Live At Roseland: Elements of 4 DVD. A mismash of monologue, performance footage and behind-the-scenes peaks like her wedding dress, this project might be the best collective view of the superstar and hot lady next door, Mrs. Beyoncé.