By: Marc-Anthony James| First-Year PR Student| Humber College
I had weeks to prepare for this blog assignment; we received the outline near the beginning of the semester, but here I am on the day it is due with absolutely nothing prepared. It’s imperative that I use the 40 minutes I have on this GO Train to whip something up. I think the fact that I had nothing I wanted to write about on the lower shelves of my brain was discouraging. I could write about the weather or how to prepare Turducken (turkey, stuffed with duck, stuffed with chicken, stuffed with stuffing), but that probably wouldn’t be a good idea because the weather is boring and I’m the least qualified person I know who should be advising people on how to prepare one of the toughest meals out there.
I don’t have any hobbies or special skills that I could share, or any tips and hacks that people are dying to know about. This task is becoming more daunting by the second! So what’s a guy to do? Wait and let inspiration strike on its own, I guess. I’m at the half-way point of my trip now; the train pulled into Union Station minutes ago and I hear the low familiar rumble of its engine telling me we’re about depart again. This is when the panic sets in. I feel like those people I see running to catch the train before the doors close and the chime stops must feel, like time is not on their side and the world as they know it will end!
They make it in the knick of time and within a few seconds the train starts pulling away to begin its slow crawl to Exhibition Station. I stare out of the window and try to clear my mind, power lines and trees wiz by and then, like a fierce wind of “slay”; Beyoncé’s Formation came through my ear buds and eureka! I had it! I will blog about music, specifically how Queen Bey came through and blessed us with her Formation video and then her Super Bowl 50 performance.
The Formation music video first dropped on Saturday, February 6, 2016 . It appeared on Beyoncé’s YouTube page as well as a free download on Tidal, the music streaming service she co-owns with husband Jay-Z. The first word that comes to mind when pondering exactly what Beyoncé gave us was “anthem”. The song is an anthem, full stop. Her army of afro-centric backup dancers are called to arms with lyrics like, “Okay ladies now let’s get in formation”. Those words are repeated at the end of the chorus as well as the bridge of Formation. It’s powerful because it’s all about female empowerment; this is not a new theme for Beyoncé, but this time around it has become a little more political. In the Super Bowl performance of Formation the next day her army of black female back-up dancers are clad in costumes reminiscent of Black Panther uniforms worn in 60s through the 80s.
This choice could have been frowned upon by the powers that be who determine just what an artist can and can’t do during a super Bowl performance with over 100 million viewers. This fact did not deter her and I’m glad we got to see a display of such powerful imagery. This is just one of the political statements Beyoncé makes throughout Formation, images like waterlogged Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and a young boy causing police in riot gear to raise their hands in surrender. She comments on social issues African American have faced and are currently in the midst of today.
She sings about her heritage, specifically her father’s Alabama roots and her mother’s Creole decent. This leads us into the up-tempo drive of Formation where she sings “I like my baby hair, my baby hair afro. I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” Those lyrics promote self-love, this is important because in today’s society such characteristics are not considered beautiful. When she sings about loving those characteristics she reaffirms that those things are beautiful and her self-love will inspire others to forget about mainstream media’s idea of beauty and love themselves. Some people don’t find this empowering; just look to the comment section on sites such as Billboard to read the negative things that people post about this subject matter here. I won’t focus on that because we don’t need to open the Pandora’s Box of negativity when a black female artist sings about what matters to her with the attitude and the panache of black culture. All I know is I was inspired and I appreciate Beyoncé for making a video with such powerful imagery. The Formation video was smart, beautiful, sexy and powerful which is what we have come to expect from Beyoncé, but it was also a political statement which is new territory and I’m glad she stepped up.
Check it out here and tell me what you think. Beyoncé Formation Video.
This blog is no longer about nothing; I’ll write about music. Whether it be a specific artist, a new song or just my feelings on anything music related. Okay bye.