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Beyonce - 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:33 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

BeyonceI've always thought that parentheses in song titles should be used with extreme caution, because they have a nasty habit of either changing the meaning of your song or rendering it utterly nonsensical. When I first heard about this song, months ago before I'd actually heard it, it fell prey to the first one: "what the heck?*" I spluttered. "So Beyoncé thinks all single ladies should put a ring on it, does she? That the only good woman is a married woman? Is feminism a dirty word to you, Knowles? EH?"

Of course, when I finally got to listen to the song, I realised that the two sections of the song inexpertly bolted together in the title are entirely separate and don't actually have any bearing on each other, meaning that the Yonce is not actually a traitor to the feminist cause, at least not in this instance. Phew!

It feels rather weird to be reviewing this song at this point in time, since it's been bothering the Top 10 since December, but release dates being what they are these days, it's not actually officially out until this week, so here is your somewhat delayed official ChartBlog take on the whole matter.

(Here's the video. You may already have seen it.)

The song's actually developed some degree of infamy, what with the Saturday Night Live spoof of the video starring a be-leotarded Justin Timberlake and the YouTube parody 'Single Lettuce' (which we can't link to from here because the person who posted it has a naughty word in their username), but it's important to recognise its appeal independently of all that, in which case: it's excellent.

After the unwitting hilarity of 'If I Were A Boy' (psst, Beyoncé, Ciara did it first, and did it better), this is Bey back to doing what she does best - strident calls to arms for the ladies, with a diss on useless men thrown in for good measure. It's essentially a burn on the rubbish ex for not making things more permanent when he had the chance, and therefore having absolutely no reason to complain now that she's out with someone else (with a slight hint of "of course, if you were to change your mind now, I might think about it" thrown in for good measure).

It's odd that this is my favourite Beyoncé track since the epically awesome 'Ring The Alarm' because it's so slight that it could blow over in a cool winter breeze, but the constant "if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it" refrain is so amazingly catchy that it provides a surprisingly solid foundation for the entire song, which is reinforced by the angry-Yonce middle eight, which at first I thought contained the line "like the post, I'll be gone". This seemed like an odd kind of shout-out to be making, unless Beyoncé actually is a firm supporter of the postal service, though it turned out to be "like a ghost", which does make slightly more sense. Although "like the post" would still have been more agreeable than the gratuitous name-checking of her own fashion line in the first verse.

It's all completely bonkers, but in the best way possible. If this is the sort of thing that comes from that Sasha Fierce alter-ego she's been going on about recently, I for one welcome our new overlord to such a degree that I am prepared to place this ring upon the CD.

Five starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: February 9th

(Fraser McAlpine)
* Exact expletive may have differed slightly from original utterance



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