The phases that Pretty Hurts by Beyonce Knowles took me through and continues to do so.
After a month of dancing along Colum Road, Cardiff to this tune, i have learnt a few lessons from this amazing song.
Before i get all engrossed in the tingly feeling the song leaves me, allow me a few moments to get my groupie on.
Beyonce is Queen! Arghhhhhhhhhh
Self-titled album. 14 songs. 17 videos. Released in one day!
Who does that?
As she noted in an interview, “I usually plan things and I’m trying to rebel against perfection. It’s fun, because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Despite her efforts, the album pulls you in instantly. The pulsating rhythm, the unique voice and the sense of anticipation that fills your ear drums; its hard to turn away.
Then the beat drops!
Lesson One: PREPARE, PERFECT, EXECUTE.
A song is meant to be savoured, enjoyed, flirted with; not sung randomly in some street corner and forgotten just like that. Indeed, as Dr. Dre noted when explaining the rationale behind the production of the Beats range of headphones, a lot of time and attention goes into producing those kicks, snares and base lines that get you rocking.
Pretty Hurts is a a clear manifestation of a song that has been thought through, perfected and delivered for your listening pleasure.
“But Beyonce said she was rebelling against perfection”, you retort.
Yes, she did. rebelling against the order in which music is appreciated and loved and composed. However, in all the imperfection, a superior, perfect sound is born. That was the point of the rebellion. In order for our works to be appreciate, loved, be able to cause change and drive change, we must take our time to prepare, perfect and then execute them.
Lesson Two: always see the BIGGER picture
Pharrell Williams, one of the several artists who worked on the album once said to Beyonce, “You set women free… that record is a phenomenon”.
Beyonce knows what she wants in any endeavour and she goes to get it. However, it is not just anything she runs after (bagging Jay Z as a husband should say enough). There is always a larger purpose to it all. In the breathtaking piece of work, that is the album, and indeed on this track, that principles remains the North Star.
In Pretty Hurts, she sings
“Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
And you break when the paper sign leaves you in the dark”.
Being a global symbol has its pressures. A look at folks like Lady Gaga should tell you enough. However, how do you harness the power of international influence, spice it with the responsibilities of motherhood, spouse and global citizenship to produce a work of art that not only sounds good, but drives a message?
Give the words of the track which meaning you please, but one fact shines true; the long term realities of life should direct the short term imaginations.
Lesson Three: All of that is not ALL THAT
3 minutes, 11 seconds into the video for the song, there us a very powerful imagery. As the curtains are drawn, the ladies on the podium with the fixed smiles, wave goodbye. My female friends tell me they can’t wait to get home to take off their bras because of the discomfort. How they wish the heels would cause less pain.
There is always a facade; and its fine.
However when the facade is pulled down, are you simply the shiny trophy the world looks at and admires? Are you simply ‘face’? When the curtains are drawn, the audience goes away, the lights are turned off; will the world remember you? Most importantly will you remember yourself?
You must know yourself, understand yourself, trust yourself.
At that point, speaking, walking, dressing, loving, laughing, singing, reading, riding and the very essence of your existence will be all of that.