As B hinted in a letter to fans earlier this month, she wants to show “the many sides” of herself, and she’s doing that via two completely different videos, even if they are both in black and white. One video is pure Sasha — her onstage persona — and the other is stripped-down Beyoncé.
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” is an upbeat dance track, and as such, the video is about dancing. B is joined by two look-alike dancers, befitting her alter-ego theme. They click their heels, almost as if they’re tap dancing, to give the song some extra beats, but despite all the hip-and-leg shaking going on, they want you to look at their hands. More specifically, their ring fingers. And since Beyoncé didn’t even want an engagement ring , according to what she told Essence magazine, this is your first clue that this song is really from Sasha’s heart, not Beyoncé’s.
The video for “If I Were a Boy,” the Beyoncé side of the two, however, is the more meaningful one — and it comes with a twist that requires repeat viewing. Beyoncé and her boyfriend say a few words (“intimacy,” “honesty,” “commitment”), and then they start saying the words together: “You.” “Me.” “Us.”
When the action starts, Beyoncé is working as a cop, and her boyfriend is so supportive that he makes her breakfast, spends time at work looking for the perfect present to brighten her day and forgoes hanging out with his attractive officemates so he can be available when she gets off her shift. Except, she’s not thinking about him at all.
Instead, Beyoncé is spending her off-hours with her fellow cops, particularly her male partner, who she seems enamored with. Her boyfriend tries calling, but she’s ignoring the phone. And later, when her boyfriend gives her a present — earrings — she puts them on to go dancing with her cop partner at a party. Naturally, her boyfriend is upset, and when he confronts her about this at home, she acts like he’s making a big deal out of nothing. “When you act like that,” he tells her, “I don’t think you realize how it makes me look or feel.”
“Why are you so jealous?” she asks him in a condescending tone. “It’s not like I’m sleeping with the guy.”
Then the story reverses, and Beyoncé starts to cry. The situation that she put her boyfriend in, it turns out, is the situation she’s in — he’s the cop, she’s the supportive girlfriend who’s being taken for granted. But when we first saw it from a different perspective, her behavior seemed more abnormal. And when it’s the guy doing everything she just did in the previous scenes, it becomes all too familiar — which is Beyoncé’s point.
“If I were a boy,” she sings, “I would do what I wanted/ And never be confronted for it.”