Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crazy in love - but is she happy? The other day I was listening to Beyonce's monster smash hit "Crazy in Love", a song that is still probably one of the finest moments in contemporary R&B. This time I was actually listening to the lyrics, and it occurred to me - Beyonce never really says how being crazy in love makes her feel. Observe!
I look and stare so deep in your eyes
I touch on you more and more every time
When you leave I'm beggin' you not to go
Call your name two, three times in a row
Such a funny thing for me to try to explain
How I'm feeling and my pride is the one to blame
Yeah, cause I know I don't understand
Just how your love can do what no on else can
All right. We know that Beyonce is having trouble articulating how she feels, or understanding how her lover has done this to her, but it's her pride that is making her feel this way. Do you think she is so proud that she can't confront him and say, "How do you think this craziness is making me feel?"
Got me lookin' so crazy right now
Your love's got me lookin' so crazy right now
Got me lookin' so crazy right now your touch's
Got me lookin' so crazy right now
Got me hoping you page me right now your kiss's
Got me hoping you save me right now
Lookin' so crazy your love's got me lookin'
Got me lookin' so crazy your love
One thing that has always intrigued me about this song is that, while it's called "Crazy in Love", that phrase never actually appears in the lyrics. She is so crazy that she is condemned to singing in circles of "crazy" and "your love" - the chorus ends on that phrase as though it's only the need to breathe (baby boy make me lose my breath) that reins it in from the endless rapture of the disco dancefloor.
When I talk to my friends so quietly
"Who he think he is?" Look at what you've done to me
Tennis shoes don't even need to buy a new dress
You ain't there, ain't nobody else to impress
It's the way that you know what I thought I knew
It's the beat that my heart skips when I'm with you
Yeah, but I still don't understand
Just how your love can do what no one else can
I have always identified with the line "You ain't there, ain't nobody else to impress". But for me it has always spoken of a depressive state - without being dressed by the eyes of the lover, you don't care for yourself and you wear any old crap. (And then you see them at the corner store when you go to buy milk.) See, her love for this man has possessed her so that he himself has come to possess her, knowing her thoughts before she does herself. So do you suppose that he does understand how his love can do what no-one else can? If so, is he holding back on Beyonce in order to prolong her delirium? Does he enjoy the power he has over her? But more importantly, does she find this abandonment exhilarating or liberating, or does she feel trapped and powerless?

Got me looking so crazy, my baby
I'm not myself lately
I'm foolish, I don't do this
I've been playing myself
Baby I don't care
Cos your love got the best of me
And baby you're making a fool of me
You got me sprung and I don't care who sees
Cos baby you got me so crazy

So it's almost a kind of humiliation, isn't it, a kind of abandonment of dignity and self-control? Still, this song is frustratingly ambivalent about whether Beyonce is lamenting or welcoming her loss of control. She's indignant that the man ought to have this power over her, but does she enjoy the way the craziness makes her feel? I find this ambivalence extremely interesting and a little disturbing. Is love always about surrender? (cf Wet Wet Wet "Sweet Surrender"; ABBA "Waterloo".) And what does that say about the equality of partnerships?

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