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Beyoncé, hand-me-ups and mononymity.

March 17, 2013

I asked Vicky to name a favourite song that came straight into her head, and she came up with Beyoncé – Crazy in Love. I wasn’t certain I knew it, but the words seemed familiar. I got it wrong – the song I thought it was going to be (which does feature that phrase) turned out to be Alphabeat’s Boyfriend. (If you like that, incidentally, try 10,000 Nights for just pure pop fun.) Caroline – one of the two people chiefly responsible for my continuing musical education – handed Alphabeat up to me.

Hand-me-up music is something I touched on a while back, but I was engaged in such epic activity at the time that I didn’t really accord it its due measure of importance. It’s worth returning to. A simple enough concept, obviously: this is music which I hear via my children or their friends. Not just, however, because I walk past their rooms and am vaguely attracted by the sounds emanating therefrom but because they have chosen to share it with me. It validates the times when I have made them listen to the music that I have grown up with.

As a parent, I always wanted to share what I love about literature, art, music (and cricket) with my children; passing on the things you value is the greatest inheritance you can give. It’s rewarding when they seem to embrace at least some of it. This is very exciting, and leads to some surprises – not least because the traffic isn’t always in the direction I expect. For example, I would have expected that William Byrd was my thing more than theirs – but it was Caroline who went to see Stile Antico sing, and subsequently gave me a recording which included their performance of  Tollite Portas. And it was with Fiona that I went to see a local performance of Cosi Fan Tutte, which despite the occasional wince at the state of the translation was a treat that we enjoyed equally. And it’s one to hand on to you as well – the meltingly beautiful trio Soave il Vento showing that Mozart’s ensemble writing really is without equal.

It’s a huge compliment both that they think their rather cranky parent is worth involving in their own musical universes, and that they still seem to want to hang out in his. Now they are grown up the dynamic between us has become one of mutual education and opportunity; the older I get the more I have to learn, and what a pleasant prospect that is.

Anyway, back to the plot. I followed a link to Crazy in Love and recognised it within the first second. Of course I did – it’s been a huge hit, with an opening brass motif that flicks from B Flat to G and back again with an almost anthemic statement of intent: this song is going to get in your head. I left it playing, and opened another tab to look for something else; then switched back after a couple of minutes to find that Ms Knowles had changed outfits. The video producers, clearly briefed to present Beyoncé to best advantage, had decided that “business casual” was probably not the look to go for. I guess they know their business.

Beyoncé Knowles – I think she’s better off without the surname. This may be because being British and over, well, over it anyway, I feel it goes more naturally with Tony (a Boltonian snooker player long past his best) or Nick (modern DIY idol and presenter of forgettable TV quiz shows). Beyoncé is Destiny’s Child: I believe (and hope) that she is unrelated to the other worthies I have named.

On a certain website which, in the brief papal interregnum, was the only infallible source available*, I saw it confirmed that she is indeed known mononymously as Beyoncé. That word was a joy to behold. Mononymously: what a treat!

Mononymity puts Beyoncé in the same bracket as Madonna, Slash, Bono… the list is small but select. (I wonder  if The Edge can be included? It may be that the definite article counts as the first element in a polynym.) Somehow, and belatedly, I feel a sense of distinction conferred on this blog by my own mononymous moniker…


Go on: as Destiny’s Child would have it, Say my name. And how’s that for a neat finish?

destiny's child

*That is a joke.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Ah Beyonce (whoops no accent) – a guilty pleasure of mine. Someone who, along with Nicki Minaj, champions the curve (and can hold a tune too of course). Enjoyed this post as I was thinking about inheritance tracks this afternoon as I forced the girl child to listen to Paint It Black for the umpteenth time. At only 4, she’s already handing up tunes to me and for the first time in about a decade I almost feel down with the kids (although still have no idea what’s at the top of the Pop Parade).

  2. Nicki Minaj, eh – that’s not a name I know, either. Learning something every day.
    How does the girl child feel about red doors now?

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