Remembering: Crazy in Love…

Perhaps one of the reasons we Picky Bastards rarely agree on anything is that we simply don’t remember things in the same way. In this series, we’re going to take some classic songs and talk about the recollections they provoke. Today we look back to ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce and Jay Z. Let us know in the comments what you think about when you remember that song.

Tom Burrows: A wide empty street on the outskirts of a city, viewed through a speeding car’s windscreen. A camo-capped Jay-Z on its backseat, ad-libbing. We’re on course for collision with a woman, striding toward the camera with absolute PURPOSE. The camera is halted and we see why we were hurtling forward at such frankly dangerous speeds. Yep, it’s Beyonce folks. And let’s just say it – she looks INCREDIBLE. “You ready?” she asks. Even Jay can’t convince us that he is.

‘Crazy in Love’ is absolutely inseparable from this imagery for me. Once I hear that huge Chi-Lites sample kick in, I’m transported back to 2003 MTV. The horns seemingly announce that “a star is born” and the video carries that opening scene energy for the next four minutes. Beyonce serves up approximately 786 iconic looks over a series of seamless scene changes as the song transitions effortlessly between its verses and choruses. It remains a pop classic – hell, even Jay’s verse is good.

Sam Atkins: Watching Beyoncé perform ‘Crazy In Love’ live for the first time is possibly the most pivotal moment of my gig going life. It sounds like hyperbole, but back in November of 2009, I was told on my 18th birthday that we were going to see Beyoncé Knowles in concert just 2 days later. With months to prepare myself for seeing her for the first time, I’d have struggled to be ready. With just 2 days? I was NOT READY.

I had been to gigs before, I’d had a few years of going to gigs with my brother up to then, but I had never seen anyone at this level before, completely at the top of their game and stardom. Stood in the newly opened Echo Arena Liverpool (A strangely small arena considering who we were to witness) we waited and waited for even the smallest glimpse; lights go down and the intense anticipation reaches a peak.
Silhouetted and surrounded by smoke and nothing else, we finally hear that voice singing the opening lyrics of ‘Deja Vu’ acapella, leaving gaps for intense screams from the crowd. Then it happens, THOSE HORNS blast out and Beyoncé is there in blinding technicolour. My heart was pounding so much, I had never felt anything like it before. She’s literally just walking towards us and it’s life changing. I’d never seen or experienced someone at that level of fame, that when she asks the audience ‘You Ready?’ the answer was a resounding No. I was not ready, but I would be from now on. I doubt I could ever have been ready for what was to be the start of a lifetime of searching to recapture that moment again. My expectations of what was possible for a live show had been changed for good.
You only have to hear the original version of’ Crazy In Love’ to understand how massive it becomes when performed live, everything is so huge and bombastic, but effortless too. It’s distinctively ‘of its time’ but also timeless. The video is iconic, Jay-Z delivers one of his all time best guest verses when it counts and the dance routine is still perfect 17 years later. But nothing compares to seeing Beyoncé, the best live performer of my lifetime, perform her greatest song. I won’t even mention seeing her perform it with Jay-Z, which was a bucket list moment if I’ve ever had one.
Fliss Clarke: In 2003 I was a skint second year uni student in Leeds working in a nightclub made from a converted Victorian school house. This was a bad idea poorly executed: brown leather pouffe formations, low boxy tables and disco lights pulsing in an acoustically impossible hall. Typical of the early noughties UK nightlife scene, the music policy was Funky House and RnB. As a committed indie chick very into The Cooper Temple Clause at the time, I endured rather than enjoyed the heavy rotation of Ashanti, 50 Cent, and Nelly as I poured vodka cranberries and cut endless limes.

‘Crazy in Love’ and the whole catalogue of hits from Beyonce’s Dangerously in Love were, of course, played ad nauseam over packed Wednesday student nights (2 quid double vodka Red Bulls in plastic cups) and empty Saturday nights (fiver bourbon and cokes in a fat glass). Retrospectively. I absolutely appreciate the majesty of ‘Crazy in Love’: total banger force and up there with ‘Careless Whisper’ as one of the greatest post-group launchpad songs ever. However I hear it and just smell stale Red Bull and limes and recall coked up shift managers in Diesel jeans marching through the empty hall on a quiet night and barking at us to practice free pouring.

Fran Slater: If I’m being totally honest, the first thing I remember when I think of ‘Crazy in Love’ is the video. I was an eighteen-year-old lad when it was released, and Beyonce was quite simply the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. There was a pub where we played pool a few nights a week and there was a projector screen playing MTV nonstop on the other side of the room – I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I lost a fair few games of pool because of Beyonce.

I was also a hip-hop obsessive at that time, and Jay Z’s verse allowed me to pretend I was listening for his rhymes and his rhymes only. But there was something undeniable about that song. I was far too interested in being cool to admit liking a pop/R&B song at that age, but there was a small collection of CDs (think Craig David and Nelly Furtado) that I kept hidden when my friends came over but would play pretty loudly when the house was empty. ‘Crazy in Love’ was one of them.

And now, I think it is pretty obvious why. It might have been the video that made me pay attention in the first place, but ‘Crazy in Love’ is quite simply one of the best pop songs of all time. Maybe even the best. At 36 years old I can happily admit what my 18-year-old self kept secret; I fucking love that song.

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