On Monday, October 30th 2017, Janelle Vest and Clark Hubbard began a project that they would live to regret: only listening to Beyoncé for seven straight days. Neither of the two had previously listened to much Beyoncé, and when Gretchen Foels heard this, she suggested the week with Queen B. What follows is a sort of daily journal, based on Janelle and Clark’s weeks with Beyoncé.
Day 1: Monday
Note: I’ve probably learned a whole 5 Beyoncé songs in my life previous to doing this experiment.
I’m sensing that there is a very particular mood that one must be in to really enjoy Beyoncé and all she has to offer. After one day of listening to her Spotify on shuffle, I’ve realized that there are two main categories of Beyoncé songs – the “I am woman, I don’t need anybody” songs, and the “Please objectify me” songs. It’s altogether very contradicting and somehow it all sounds the same..?
At work, I received a text from Jacob Peecher informing me that one of my favorite bands, AJJ, had just released a new EP, which he said “Manages to push the band forward in a new direction while keeping the original feel. Highly recommend.” Well, great Jake. The one week in my life when the only musical artist I will listen to is Beyoncé, one of my favorite bands releases an EP. This is fine.
I will admit, I was listening to the music in Barefoots Joe, the campus coffee shop, while I was working. And when I heard Ben Folds, I most certainly did turn up the music a little bit. Being a barista, I need to make sure that all the music that plays in the shop is appropriate, right?
Thoughts at the end of the day: I think I will be sick of Beyoncé by the end of Wednesday, but we’ll see. I appreciate the variety over her career and albums, but am also confused by the seemingly contradictory statements that she’s all about: “I am a free, independent woman that deserves respect” and “I am a sex object.” Not judging, just confused.
Day 2: Tuesday
I like “Ave Maria.” It really broke up the monotony of minor key womanizing for me this afternoon.
I have been struggling with insomnia for a couple weeks now, and I slept better than normal last night. There is no other possible explanation for this but Beyoncé. She is healing me, and for that I am thankful.
(N.B. the insomnia started again later, Beyoncé betrayed Clark.)
I woke up to Beyoncé, and finished listening to her second album as I got ready for breakfast. At this point, I have listened to all of Beyoncé’s albums except for 4. Not sure why I saved this one for last, but as I get into it, I recognize a good deal of the songs. Beyoncé is a solid artist with a lot of talent. We’ll see what I think after I finish up this album and have to start re-listening to albums.
Day 3: Wednesday
I work at a church and sometimes I listen to music while I work because I do a lot of editing photos and that can get a little quiet. I listened to Beyoncé today in the church office. I had my computer volume on one the whole time because I forgot headphones. Then the song “Ego” came on. That’s when I decided I could probably handle editing in the quiet.
I almost played a Barenaked Ladies song, when Korey Adams reminded me that I am only allowed to listen to Beyoncé. Thank God for Korey, but also, I really wanted to hear “Odds Are.”
Today I finished up the third round of all her albums, and realized that I could not listen to her first album one more time. There are too many slow, baby-making songs on it, and I really need to focus on homework, and not slow R&B. From now on, I will mainly be focusing on her more upbeat, “dancey” albums and songs.
Day 4: Thursday
Today I chose to listen to all the fun songs that I knew from back in the day, just to refresh my spirit and so that I didn’t have to listen to “Drunk in Love” again. I went through and made a queue of “Halo,” “Crazy in Love,” Love on Top,” “Single Ladies,” “Say My Name,” and “Irreplaceable,” and today was a glorious day on Memory Lane in the land of Beyoncé.
In Improv practice, we played a game called “Beastie Rap,” where everyone had to rap a line in the style of the Beastie Boys. I could not play “Fight for your Right” myself, so I found the song, and asked Eli Creasy to play it for me on my phone. It’s cheating, but I won’t let my commitment to Beyoncé hurt the improv team.
Day 5: Friday
I decided to try to listen to Beyoncé while I was writing a paper about shoes, but when I started typing “EVA soles are used by brands such as Keen, Teva, Northface, Patagonia, Birkenstock, and tonight I’m gonna dance for you,” I had to put that to rest. Beyoncé music is probably not the best focus music. Unless you’re trying to focus on… well, never mind.
Today I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with “Formation” stuck in my head, and could not fall back asleep. Granted, that’s awful, but I did have a sort of revelation. Think about the lyrics to that song: “Come on ladies, let’s get in formation.” That’s what you think the lyrics are, right? But what if Queen B is actually singing, “Come on ladies let’s get information?” Information on what? What are the ladies collecting data for? Is this somehow connected to the Kennedy assassination or the moon landing? What is happening?
Shea McCollough and I went to Dr. Richardson’s house for the annual “Fausty Awards” (if you don’t know what those are, I’m afraid you’re just not worthy to know) and cranked Beyoncé all the way there with the windows down on my sweet 2005 GMC Envoy. Dr. Richardson had some tunes playing at his house, and I will admit, I got so much joy from hearing the Beatles and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1,” and am excited for Monday to roll around.
Day 6: Saturday
I chose silence today.
I have a confession, I listened to a mashup between Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” and “Circle of Life” from Lion King when I woke up today. My excuse is that it’s a video, but still, I sorta broke the rules, and for that I am repentant.
Day 7: Sunday
This is the day I went on Youtube and listened to the entire Lemonade album and watched the videos. I was planning on just listening while I cleaned my room, but when the beginning of every song was a monologue, I figured I really needed to watch them. She doesn’t wear pants in a lot of them. But I definitely thought the most relevant song on that album is “Formation.” I respect that she has hot sauce in her bag. That seems very practical.
It feels wrong to listen to Beyoncé on a Sunday, but nevertheless, that’s what I have done. I woke up to “Formation” (as I think I will continue to do for a long time), listened to Lemonade on the way to church, and the way back.
I am unbelievably excited that I can listen to other music tomorrow.
Over all, if I had the chance to do it again, I don’t think I would. Beyoncé is mood music – a very specific mood that I don’t get very often, maybe once every 7 months. Is she a really successful woman who looks as good as she sounds? Yes. Do I want to listen to her music again? Probably not for about a year.
If I hear another Beyoncé song before graduation, it will be too soon. Grudgingly, I admit that she is very talented, and has made some excellent music. Outside of Lemonade, however, I will restrain myself from her music for a long while.