Beyoncé: The Billboard Music Awards Q&A
Our Millennium Award Recipient Discusses Her Amazing Career & Anticipated New Album
by Ray Rogers
In the next chapter of her career, Beyoncé certainly seems dedicated to breaking new ground. It takes guts for one of the world's biggest pop stars to release such a stridently unconventional single as the militaristic, beat-driven "Run the World (Girls)," built around a freaky sample from relatively obscure indie favorites Major Lazer's club hit, "Pon de Floor." That's just the first salvo in the unexpected collage of sonic textures and unique song structures on her new album, which features edgy new collaborators like Switch (who makes up half of Major Lazer) along with established hitmakers like The-Dream. "There's nothing safe about it, I know that much," says The-Dream, who cowrote Beyoncé's career-redefining anthem, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," and was called in to help pen the new album's lead single. "That [kind of song treatment] would never happen with any other artist of her stature, male or female."
It's a sentiment Beyoncé seems keenly aware of herself. "I feel like my job in the industry is to push the limits, and I have to constantly evolve," Beyoncé explains of her new direction, while she's being chauffeured from a photo shoot on Long Island to a Manhattan recording studio for a meeting with the new creative team she's assembled. This independent woman, rounding the corner to the big 3-0 this year, happily married to Jay-Z, has taken the reins of her career like never before, and she wants it known that she is the one calling the shots. Her forthcoming solo album, "4," was made this past year without the guidance of Matthew Knowles, her father and longtime manager. She announced on March 28 this year that the two parted ways "on a business level." Raising a clenched fist on the cover of her new single, "Run the World (Girls)," Beyoncé clearly transmits her trademark message of female empowerment.
In this exclusive first interview about her next phase, the star took a look ahead at the thrilling new sounds and creative endeavors in store for her, while also reminiscing about the many milestones along the way that have earned her Billboard's Millennium Award.
Whenever you put out a new song, it seems to generate a catchphrase. Is that something you think about?
That's what I always want to do - I'm attracted to songs that will become a dinner conversation! [laughs] With "Single Ladies," clearly I'd just gotten married, and people want to get married every day - then there was the whole Justin Timberlake thing [recreating the video] on "Saturday Night Live," and it was also the year YouTube blew up. With "Irreplaceable," the aggressive lyrics, the acoustic guitar, and the 808 [drum machine] - those things don't typically go together, and it sounded fresh. "Crazy in Love" was another one of those classic
moments in pop culture that none of us expected. I asked Jay to get on the song the night before I had to turn my album in - thank God he did. It still never gets old, no matter how many times I sing it.
The new single, "Run the World (Girls)," is a very bold statement for you.
It's definitely riskier than something a bit more...simple. I just heard the track and loved that it was so different: it felt a bit African, a bit electronic and futuristic. It reminded me of what I love, which is mixing different cultures and eras -- things that typically don't go together -- to create a new sound. I can never be safe; I always try and go against the grain. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That's how I've gotten to where I am.