Beyoncé’s newest single “1 +1” has all the soaring guitar riffs and vocal acrobatics one could expect from a Bey ballad.
Take a listen:
The single got me thinking about the “love equation” and its use in popular music. “One plus one equals two” is not only a mathematical fact, it is also a popular idiom for the coupling process. As a species that aspires to mate for life, we need the notion of the “holy union” between two individuals. We must find the one, our other half, the ying to our yang, the salt to our pepper, the mac to our ‘roni. One plus one equals two is, simply, the equation for love.
Beyoncé did it well, but she didn’t do it first. Let’s take a look at the various incarnations of the love equation in pop music.
“1+1” / Beyoncé / 2011
“1+1″ is certainly a departure from the first single off her latest album, “4.” “Who Run the World (Girls)” was fierce and all, but, as the Guardian’s music blogger Michael Cragg points out, “it’s not really what people want from Beyonce.” Cragg does not elaborate on what “it” is that people do not want from Bey, and I really don’t feel like doing his job for him today.
Like 90 percent of what Beyoncé’s selling, I’m buying, this single included. When she yelps “yeh-EEEW,” I like to imagine it’s because Jay-Z just pinched her, perhaps as some type of foreplay. And then they do it like it’s never been done before.
I also dig “1+1”’s anti-war message. Bey croons, “Make love to me, so that when the world’s at war, that our love heal us all.” If any couple could bring world peace just by doing it (a la John and Yoko), it’d be Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
2ge+her / “U + Me = Us (Calculus)” / 2000
Y’all remember 2ge+her, the satirical boy band created by MTV? Well, their single “U + Me = Us” makes my point for me, mocking pop music’s addiction to the love equation.
On a personal note, 2ge+her and haters like them still put me on the defensive. Back off my boy band, you meanies! And I said boy band, singular, because there was only ever one real boy band, and if you have to ask (which means you’re either older or have awful taste in music), it was *NSYNC.