Thursday, May 23, 2024

Beyonce Cheating? Her Version of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” Is Actually Karaoke, Sung Over the 1968 Track


The Beyhive will not be happy about this little story.

But I surprised when the credits were finally released for “Cowboy Carter” that Beyonce is basically performing karaoke on “Blackbird.”

Yes, she sings, and the arrangement of voices is exquisite. But when I first heard it a week ago, I wondered who was playing such a beautiful guitar behind her.

Turns out no one is — or rather, she licensed the instrumental track from the Beatles’ original recording. Instead of bringing in a great guitarist — or even McCartney himself — Beyonce and friends just paid for the 1968 track, presumably a newer remix from Giles Martin, and sang over it.

If you were in a restaurant and did this, it would be called Karaoke. It wouldn’t be called “interpolation” or “Sampling.”

It would also be called “cheating.”

Hundreds of thousands of cover songs have been recorded over the last fifty years, all of which involved making a record sound new with fresh vocals and instrumentals. When Elton John made “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” he didn’t license the old track and sing over it. He created a new recording. Ditto Earth, Wind & Fire on “Got to Get You into My Life.”

Get the point?

But this has become acceptable in the hip hop world, and now it’s bled over to this situation. Beyonce was introduced to this bad behavior eons ago when she took the horn riff from the Chi Lites song, “Are You My Woman” and made it into “Crazy in Love.” After that, everything was fair game.

I’m more disappointed than angry. I was waiting for those album credits eagerly to see who was enlisted from the great pool of musicians in the world. But it took Beyonce’s team a week to get it together. The result is that “Cowboy Carter” is not the organic album that was promised, but is really put together by technicians and programmers.

Yes, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

Here they are, the exact same length, of course. Good to sing at the bar between servings of wings (not Wings):

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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