It was the hottest single of 2000s. Its video made Kanye West the most hated man in America.
Though, at first, it seemed just a catchy pop song, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” turned out to be so much more. From the single ladies of America who could relate to its message of female empowerment to the folks who turned its black and white video into a You Tube phenomenon, “Single Ladies” was more than a hit single from a popular artist. It was a pop culture phenomenon.
Beyonce was already big, of course. Her third CD, 2008’s “I Am … Sasha Fierce,” was a double CD set that introduced her alter ego. “Single Ladies” and “If I Were a Boy” (a video for which was also shot in black and white) were the first double-sided single from the CD. If the label expected “If I Were A Boy” to be the hit, they were dead wrong.
It may have been a combination of Beyonce’s then-recent marriage, which co-writer The-Dream said influenced “Single Ladies.” It may have been the retro video based on dancer/choreographer Bob Fosse’s 1969 “Mexican Breakfast.” Mexican Breakfast.” Or it could have been the song’s catchy hook, on which Beyonce decried and dismissed non-committal men who wouldn’t put a ring on their girl’s finger.
Whatever the magic, not only did the song – written by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, Thaddus “Kuk” Harrell, Knowles and Terius “The-Dream” Nash – run up the charts; it sparked a YouTube revolution. The “Single Ladies” video is a no-frills, no-backgroud clip, with Bey and two able dancers performing in black leotards and high heels, yet it’s become one of her most popular videos ever. As the song rose in popularity, thousands of fans took it upon themselves to create videos with their own versions of the choreography. Their YouTube video responses went viral, and the many versions of the song only pushed the original further up the charts. Beyonce appeared on “Saturday Night Live” to parody the video herself, with Justin Timberlake hilariously playing one of the video’s background dancers.
CLICK HERE to view “Single Ladies” video.
The accolades for “Single Ladies” were many. Rolling Stone named it the year’s top song, and Beyonce won three Grammys for it at the 2009 Awards. It went number-one in the U.S. Billboard charts and sold over 6 million copies.
When Beyonce lost the MTV Video Award for Best Female Video to Taylor Swift in 2009, a reportedly drunk West infamously jumped on stage before Swift could accept the award to proclaim Beyonce’s video the year’s best. He became a pariah in the media afterwards, while. for her part, Beyonce appeared shocked, and when she came onstage to accept the award for Video of the Year for “Single Ladies,” she graciously asked Swift to came and claim her time in the spotlight.
“Single Ladies” may be the first song and video of the Internet age – one that was a perfect storm of performer, video, timing and song. It stands out still as the most impactful video of the 2000s, a decade ruled by Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z.