Beyoncé—Earth-Bound Goddess, Queen of All Divas—has in the past year proved herself an expert at manipulating her image and her audience. She has an archivist, for goodness’ sakes. And the way she’s embarking on her tour and the release of her new songs, well, that’s no different.
While Beyoncé did release “Bow Down/I Been On” as an isolated track, the other songs we’ve heard—songs leading up to some sort of an eventual album—have come attached to advertisements that promote Beyoncé’s various and lucrative sponsorship deals. First we got “Grown Woman,” by way of a Pepsi commercial:
And now we have “Standing on the Sun,” by way of a commercial for Beyoncé’s H&M collection:
All of which is not to say that we don’t love these songs. We do. How can you not love Beyoncé? And come on: “Grown Woman” is going to be the jam of the summer. But with these single drops as advertisements, Beyoncé is once again proving herself an expert multitasker, with a penchant for giving her audience exactly what she wants them to have. If you want new songs, she’s essentially saying, you are going to have to buy some soda, or think about buying a new blouse.
It’s the same attitude Beyoncé projected when she decided to ban professional photographers from her current tour. The move appears to be directly related to the fallout following the Super Bowl. After BuzzFeed published a listicle about Beyoncé’s “fierceness,” her publicist emailed the site asking them to take down photos that were perceived as “unflattering”—the most bizarre part of which was that said listicle was supposed to be complimentary. After all, Beyoncé was dancing fiercely, and sometimes bodies move in weird ways when that happens.
We’ve explored Beyoncé’s failed attempts to humanize herself in her HBO documentary, but her most recent musical-as-commercial moves just go to show that she has no intention of being like the rest of us. She’s Beyoncé, and she’s going to sell you what she wants, how she wants it. As she sings in the refrain of “Grown Woman,” of which you can see a live performance via Vulture, “I can do whatever I want.”
We can take it or leave it. But let’s be real: we’ll probably take it.