May 17, 2023 at 5:11 am
It is twenty years ago this week that Destiny’s Child singer Beyoncé showed with Crazy In Love that she is also a solo star. Hardly a house party with millennials goes by without Crazy In Love being played. But it could have turned out very differently back then.
Beyoncé already has several number 1 hits and Grammys with Destiny’s Child when she wants to start a solo career in 2002. The girl group, which also consists of Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, does not stop there completely. The work together is put on the back burner.
Beyoncé’s solo career starts with the song Work It Out, the soundtrack of the movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which she also plays a role. The song does not do well in the United States and only becomes a modest hit in Europe.
Beyoncé has to make room for Rowland
Although expectations for a solo career are the highest for Beyoncé, it is Rowland who is the first to find great success without the band. In the same summer that Work It Out struggles to climb the charts, Rowland tops Dilemma with rapper Nelly.
Sony Music, the record company that both singers belong to, decides to change the release schedule. They want to take advantage of Rowland’s sudden success. Beyoncé’s debut album, scheduled for late 2002, will be delayed to 2003 and Rowland’s will be brought forward.
Beyoncé has already recorded parts of her album Dangerously In Love, but decides to use the extra time to record even more new music. Crazy In Love rolls out of one of those sessions.
Beyoncé broke through in 1998 as part of the group Destiny’s Child. Her solo career was delayed by the success of Kelly Rowland (center) who was allowed to release her album first. Photo: BrunoPress
Doubts about samples
The idea for Crazy In Love started with producer Rich Harrison. He has long had the plan to have the horn section of the seventies song Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So) by The Chi-Lites. When he receives a call from Beyoncé’s team, he decides to let her hear the sample.
Although the singer initially finds the idea too retro, she still lets Harrison write a song around it. He writes parts of the song that Beyoncé is immediately a fan of. Together they finish the song. For example, Beyoncé adds the well-known ‘uh-oh, uh-oh, oh no no’ tune. The title and chorus were born when Beyoncé looks in the mirror and remarks aloud, “I’m looking so crazy right now.”
Beyoncé, who is just dating rapper JAY-Z at the time, contacts her boyfriend to collaborate on the song and he delivers a rap for the song’s bridge in no time.
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Number 1 hit and awards
Only months later Crazy In Love is released as the lead single of Dangerously In Love. The song should get Beyoncé’s solo career off the ground this time and it succeeds brilliantly. The song reached number one on the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands it takes second place. A year later, the record won a Grammy.
Twenty years later Crazy In Love is known as one of Beyoncé’s best songs, as well as one of the most influential songs of the era. On Spotify, which was founded long after its release, it now has almost 900 million streams. The music video has nearly 700 million views on YouTube. Several music publications, including Rolling Stone, have included the song in lists of the greatest songs of all time.
Beyoncé herself does not seem to be done with Crazy In Love either. On June 17 and 18, the song will also blare out of the speakers of the Johan Cruijff ArenA during its Renaissance Tour.