The song was recorded by an American singer called Beyoncé Knowles where the song
features in her third studio album, ‘I am… Sasha Fierce’ in 2008.
The song was written by BC Jean and Toby Gad. The song was firstly reordered by BC Jean
but his record company rejected it. Beyoncé then recorded her own version.
The song was released by Columbia Records on October 12, 2008, as the album's lead
single alongside “Single Ladies”.
The music video was directed by Jake Nava. Jake is an English music video and film
director. He is known for his collaborations with Beyoncé, including the videos for ‘Crazy
in Love’ and ‘Single Ladies’. He has directed music videos for Beyoncé, Britney Spears and
The Rolling Stones, and has had advertising campaigns for Armani, Puma, Bacardi and
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is an American singer and actress. She began her singing career
in the late 1990’s as the lead singer of the girl group Destiny’s child. Their hiatus saw the release
of Beyoncé's debut album, Dangerously in Love in 2003, which established her as a solo artist
worldwide; it sold 11 million copies, earned five Grammy Awards and featured the Billboard Hot
100 number-one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy".
Her songs are often characterized with themes of love, relationships and monogamy, female
sexuality and empowerment.
Throughout her 16 year career she has won 17 Grammy Awards and sold over 75 million records
as a solo artist.
In 2009, Billboard named her the Top Radio Songs Artist of the Decade, the Top Female Artist of
the 2000s and their Artist of the Millennium in 2011. In 2014 she became the highest-paid black
musician in history. She was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in
the world in 2013 and 2014.
Beyoncé signed with Columbia records 1997.
The song ‘if I were a boy’ is based around relationship problems and explores the
way males stereotypically treat females in a relationship. This is enhanced through
the use of role reversal narrative in which Beyoncé is seen acting as the male
typically would in a relationship, but as the music video progresses at the end it
shows that she is the one who is being hurt.
The music video for the song was shot all in black and white in New York City. The
concept of the video is similar to the American comedy film Freaky Friday (1976),
but the theme of the film not the role reversal.
Beyoncé said that the video shows what men commonly do to hurt their partners,
like not answering their phones, before adding that the video is about little things
that mean a lot in relationships.
Throughout the song there is not any lip synching until her character role
switches to how they should be, her being the women. This suggests that she
is showing her real self and how things should be. But most of the music
video doesn’t use any lip synching and instead focuses on the narrative
because they want to give the message to the audience.
MISE EN SCENE
The mid shot of both the male and female characters in one of the scenes show the male wearing a black shirt and
the women wearing a white one. Black connotes power and strength but also danger accentuating that the person
wearing it is evil. Whereas the women is wearing white which connotes purity and innocence. They are wearing
these colours for a reason. The man is portrayed to be seen as a villain in the music video/narrative as it is based
around the idea of men being the bad person in the relationship and mis- treating the women. By the woman
wearing white it highlights that she is the victim in the music video.
In the middle of the video Beyoncé's clothes change into her occupational uniform, police woman. She shows
aspects of a male character because her hair is scraped back and she is wearing sunglasses that are similar to her
partner. This highlights the opposite role reversal in the narrative. The occupational job which she undertakes is
seen as a male profession because it requires powerful and strong characters that can do their job efficiently and
are seen as protectors for other people. This is in contrast with other music videos where it is the male who
normally takes the leading role and it’s the women who is presented as being helpless and weak. In one of the
scenes Beyoncé drags somebody out of a shop and arrests them, this shows her dominant and powerful. This
reminds the audience the narrative of the music video in the way that Beyoncé is playing the male role.
The prop which is most significant in the music video are the guns used in the shooting scene.
Guns are weapons not stereotypically used by women because it is seen as a mans role to use
them. For example in American crime films you rarely see women as police offers and shooting
other people. Again this shows the reverse role which Beyoncé is taking in this video.
uniform as a
are strong and
All of the scenes and shots in the music video are in black and white rather than colour. The
black and white could show the contrast between the two characters accentuating their
different roles in the relationship. Many years ago, movies and TV programmes were shown
in black and white before the use of colour in media was invented, this could highlight past
memories and linking to this music video old relationships.
The use of sound is a range of non-diegetic and diegetic sound. At the start of the video the words
are said by the two characters, male and female, rather than sung. This implies that the style of the
music video is going to be a narrative as the words ‘honesty’, ‘intimacy’, ‘commitment’, ‘you’ and
‘me’, are quite poignant so it would put the audience In a position to think that there is a strong
powerful message behind the song and music video. These words create understanding between
Beyoncé and the audience highlighting the ideology that she is an honest and true person.
A lack of diegetic sound is being played with this which is done on purpose so the audience can
understand what is being said, it also draws in the audiences interest as this is quite unique to
other music videos.
Dialogue is also included in the song which is significant to the narrative as the character role
reversal is changed back to their correct roles. This is important for the audience to understand the
narrative as it would reveal the message about the song.
At the start of the video there are mid close up shots of the two
characters. In each shot they are saying a word such as ‘honesty’,
‘intimacy’ ‘commitment’ etc. These close up shots empathise the
expressions and feelings of the two characters which is enhanced
by the use of words. The mid close up shots are also used to
engage the reader as it creates a quite tense feeling towards the
This close up shot denotes the two police workers
looking at each other in a seductive way. The effect
of the close up shot increases the tension of the
relationship because they both look mesmerised
by each other. The angle of this shot shows the
intimacy between the two characters which would
make the audience feel sorry for her boyfriend.
Most of the close up shots used in this
music video are poignant and dramatic
because they are expressing the characters
feelings about their relationship. This
would make the audience guess and think
what they are going through and maybe in
some way can relate.
A long shot is used in this scene. It denotes
Beyoncé standing up and appearing to be
collecting plates, whilst her boyfriend is sitting
down. This gives the impression that Beyoncé is
taking the lead dominant role as she is doing
the work which is stereotypically the male job
in the relationship. In addition the lighting used
in this shot also enhances the woman's
dominance as the lighting is focusing on her
rather than the man. This makes the male
appear inferior to her.
This mid shot of Beyoncé's work colleague looking at her
in a seductive way. The camera is at a low angle which
represents the males power and authority, however the
connotations of this are negative because of the way he is
looking at her.
A medium two shot is used here to which shows that
Beyoncé is being ignored by her boyfriend. Even though the
narrative has changed and they are now in their normal
character roles the camera is focused on the background
where Beyoncé is where the male appears more blurred.
Now that she is in the background it shows that she is the
victim and the audience are made to feel sorry for her.
The editing technique that is used the most throughout the video is continuity editing. Continuity
editing is used to follow the narrative showing the contrast in the days which the two characters
have which allows the audience to connect to the video and understand the two characters
At the beginning of the video it has been edited using cuts which separate the two characters and
on each word they are saying directly to the camera. This creates the contrast between the male
LAURA MULVEY THEORY
Laura Mulvey came up with the male gaze. It explains how an audience
views people who are present, in relation to a music video it would be
the characters who appear in the video. She believes that in a film,
audiences have to view characters from the perspective of a
The male gaze shows the representation of women in a range of
situations. The gaze is apparent in the ‘if I were a boy’ music video, they
are representative of the male gaze as it shows situations which normally
occur to women with men being mesmerised by them. The variety of
camera shots and angles used in the video show the male gaze as the
women is presented in a sexualised manner.
LYRICS AND VISUALS
One of Andrew Goodwin's features of a music video ‘Lyrics and Visuals’ is enhanced
throughout this video.
The lyrics show the style of the video which is a narrative which is followed by the music in
Lyrics and visuals are shown in the shot where Beyoncé is practising shooting as this is
part of her job. The lyrics ‘cause I know how this hurts’ link to this scene because of the
props of guns and the connotations of this weapon such as death, pain and blood. This
may suggest that she is angry and by her doing this it helps with her relationship
Voyeurism was one of Andrew Goodwin’s features when looking at music videos.
Beyoncé's sexuality is enhanced in the music video even though she is playing a male role. In
one of the shots the camera moves down her body, this is done to draw the male audiences
attention and also the fact that even though she is playing a male role she is still feminine. This
explores the fact that females are seen as sexual objects and that they are used to satisfy the
needs of men.
Beyoncé has a very large audience which is constantly building and increasing over the years.
This is mostly because of her songs as a lot of people would be able to relate to them so would
then be able to feel a strong connection with Beyoncé. Most of her music is targeted at a
young audience both male and female. However, most of her songs defiantly have a vivid
female perspective. The lyrics of her songs describe how strong and independent women are.
This enhances Beyoncé's character greatly as it shows that she is a powerful and independent
women which inspires many people from across the world.
In relation to this music video the ideology which Beyoncé highlights is that all females do feel
a sense of empowerment in a relationship and because of this all females show weakness and
helplessness they cant seem to do anything about it. But the video tries show that females
should stick up for themselves and become stronger if they were to be in a similar situation
like what is shown in this music video.
THE SONG AND THE LABEL
Beyoncé promoted "If I Were a Boy" through live performances at venues including The
Oprah Winfrey Show, the 52nd Grammy Awards, and the I Am... World Tour in 2009-2010.
The song has also been covered several times on televised music competitions. American
singer Reba McEntire sang a country version of the ballad on Country Music Television
(CMT), and a studio version was released as the second single from her 2010 album, All the
Women I Am.
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