As watch parties for Beyoncé’s HBO documentary, Life Is But a Dream, popped up across America on Saturday night, the pop star revealed tidbits from her fiercely protected personal life.
Fans got a long look at Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s adorable baby daughter, scenes of her snapping at stage producers and her teary admission that she misses her father, though the incidents surrounding Matthew Knowles’ departure as her manager were not acknowledged, writes New York magazine.
So Life Is But a Dream has Beyoncé, dewy and relaxed on that couch, explaining her transformation. “My goal,” she says, “was independence.” That goal involved severing managerial ties with Mathew Knowles in 2011; she explains that she needed a father, not a manager. (Classily unmentioned here are the child he had outside his marriage, the Knowleses’ divorce, and allegations that he’d mishandled finances.) Cut to Beyoncé singing “Listen,” a song she co-wrote for the Dreamgirls soundtrack: “I’m more than what you made of me / I followed the voice you gave to me / But now I’ve gotta find my own.”
She says she wants to step away from the “crippling” rat race of pop stardom. (“You can’t grow.”) She credits her husband with teaching her “about being an artist — not a musician, but an artist.” The new vision of artistry she lays out is, true to Jay-Z’s Gen-X status and that I Am … disc, mildly conservative: People “don’t make albums” anymore, she says; they “don’t even listen to a body of work.”
It doesn’t typically bode well when someone’s artistic aspiration is to rewind into the past. And yet the album we see her working on in the documentary, 2011’s 4,was a terrific one. A few years ago, Beyoncé “killed” Sasha Fierce — or, rather, reintegrated Sasha, a process I wish Carl Jung were alive to ask her about. And what do you know: The beauty of 4 is how it infuses all the regal, traditionalist balladry of I Am … with the campy theatrics that animate Beyoncé’s stage persona. (See the batty, full-octave whoops on “1+1,” or the giddy chewing on the syllable boof in “Countdown.”) It’s her most cohesive solo album, and maybe her most interesting—piles of quirky sonic ideas integrated into a record about couplehood, the R&B album as screwball romantic comedy. One of Beyoncé’s lines from “Survivor” — “You thought that I’d be stressed without you, but I’m chillin’ ” — used to stick out, mostly because it never felt convincing; her appeal was that of someone who would clearly rather dominate than chill. But the version of her we see lately seems different, a figure with more goofy grace and less of an edgy, striving knot inside.
Read more at New York magazine.