It was history in the making
It’s been fifteen years since Beyoncé released her Goliath of a single ‘Crazy In Love’, and let’s be honest, a better pop song hasn’t been written since. Sure, people have come close: Lorde’s ‘Green Light’ is an absolute belter, ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna is an anthem and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ is a soul-infused hit; but none of them are quite the hip-shaking, irresistibly catchy megalith that Queen Bey offered us in 2003.
So let’s take it back to time when it all began: it’s 2003, and after hitting the big time with Destiny’s Child and a handful of acting gigs, Beyonce starts to work on her solo career. After releasing the Austin Powers soundtracking ‘Work It Out’, which failed to make a huge commercial dent, and lending guest vocals to then-boyfriend Jay-Z’s ‘’03 Bonnie & Clyde’, Bey’s first single was a sink or swim moment. But instead of doing either of those, she released ‘Crazy In Love’ as the lead single from her hotly anticipated debut album ‘Dangerously in Love’, and it totally soared.
From those opening brass riffs expertly sampled from The Chi-Lites ‘Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)’) that make you sit up and pay attention, to Jay’Z’s slick verse, and the total earworm of a chorus that still totally fills a dance-floor at any club/wedding/wake that it’s played at, this is a song that just hasn’t been beaten since. Hell, you only need to speak Bey’s vocal riff of “Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no” “ to know exactly what track you’re talking about. It won Grammys, it topped charts and sold millions of copies; but moving away from the accolades, it’s just the perfect example of pop writing.
In 2003, here at NME we said that ‘Crazy in Love’ was “a 100 per cent, stone-cold, dead-cert classic”, and that’s a statement that has stood the testament of time. Hell, it’s quite possible that, like a fine wine or George Clooney, ‘Crazy in Love’ has gotten even better over the years.
When Beyoncé opened her huge Coachella 2018 shows with it, accompanied by a full marching band not only was it a total triumph, it also proved what an outrageously brilliant song it is. As the arrangement pushed and pulled the tempo, slowing it down and switching up the instrumentation, it never sounded gimmicky or forced, as it so often does when artists try to switch up their biggest hits, instead it remained an absolute bop.
Since its release in 2003, Beyoncé has blessed us with countless other jams: ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’ could be the most quoted song of all time, ‘If I Were a Boy’ combines Bey’s vocal acrobatics with impassioned lyrics and ‘Formation’ is a breathtaking political anthem; all are truly excellent, but none can quite touch the joyful exuberance of ‘Crazy In Love’.
So on it’s fifteenth birthday, let’s all raise a glass to ‘Crazy In Love’: which is undoubtedly the best pop song of the millennium.