Jesse Jarnow

“crazy in love” – beyonce featuring jay-z

#2 this week, #1 last week, 16 weeks on the chart
Ooh, I like this one very much.
It begins with just this fucking joyous horn blowout, grabbed from the peak of some other song. I swear I’ve heard it before, but it could be from anywhere. My brain is pulling up all kinds of explanations for where it’s from, which range from the Five Stairsteps to one of the horn arrangements from John Henry by They Might Be Giants. Either way, it comes in full-force, then drops into this sly “uh-oh, uh-oh” vocal, alternates very quickly back to the horn loop, then right back to Beyonce’s lead. It establishes the pattern for the rest of the song: alternation between Beyonce’s sexy/playful vocal and the horn chorus. Like the intro to “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” it’s got bumper elements to it — in this case, Jay-Z introducing the track. Again, that notion of performance.
And, since the horn is an obviously repeated figure, introduced first, it becomes the song’s chorus before we even get there. During the verses, we spend the whole time just waiting for that part to arrive, expecting it. And, yippee, it comes back reliably. The “uh-oh”s return, too, like a repeating riff separate from the chorus. When they return, they loop like the horn figure.
After the second chorus, instead of “uh-oh”s, we get Jay-Z. Sure, it’s a slight frustration, but it’s okay — they come back towards the end of his segment, just before the penultimate chorus rides in, which leads to a short gospel rave-up, which – in turn – is a prelude to the finale. The song, of course, ends with the horn part. Indeedy, indeedy, a fine slice o’ summer fun.
Tomorrow: do we have to know about the performers to dig the tune? Do I have to grasp Beyonce or Jay-Z’s characters to appreciate the collaboration? (Same question could be applied for “Shake Ya Tailfeather.”)


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