'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)'

Columbia Records
She probably had no idea what she was about to start, but once Beyoncé Knowles’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” hit the airwaves, it became an instant sensation, sparking everything from parodies to a dance craze and every accolade imaginable.
 
The song was the first single off I am... Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé’s third solo album. Keeping in line with the album’s theme about her laid-back everyday persona coexisting with her powerful stage alter-ego, it was released concurrently with the ballad “If I Were a Boy.” Both songs dealt with the concept of a woman being treated badly by her significant other, but “If I Were a Boy” took a somber approach to the situation while the upbeat “Single Ladies” was about female empowerment.

Songwriter The-Dream thought of the track, taking inspiration from Beyoncé’s engagement to Jay-Z. In the months leading up to their secret wedding, and immediately after, she refused to wear a ring because she wanted to hide it from the public. The song was recorded after their nuptials. According to Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, who produced the single, “It was the only public statement that they ever made about their marriage.”

The song went on to top the Billboard charts, it was number one in Rolling Stone’s Best Singles of 2008 and was in the top five of VH1’s Top 40 Music Videos of 2009. The track also won a slew of awards including three Grammys (Song of the Year, Best Female Vocal R&B Performance and Best R&B Song), three MTV VMAs (Video of the Year, Best Choreography in a Video and Best Editing in a Video), a BET Award for Best Video and a Soul Train Award for Song of the Year.

The music video was shot at the same time as the video for “If I Were a Boy,” but the majority of the production budget was spent on “If I Were a Boy.” The resulting video for “Single Ladies,” directed by Jake Nava, was shot in simple black and white and featured Beyoncé and two back-up dancers. The choreography, by Frank Gatson and JaQuel Knight, was the real star of the video, sparking a dance craze and hundreds of parodies, imitations and even a dancing baby YouTube craze.


But perhaps the video’s most infamous legacy is that it was the subject of Kanye West’s 2009 MTV VMA stage-crashing incident. After Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video for "You Belong with Me," Kanye stormed the stage, grabbed the microphone from her and told the crowd, “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” At least he prefaced his epic douchery with an apology.


"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" Lyrics

All the single ladies (7x)

Now put your hands up
Up in the club, we just broke up
I’m doing my own little thing
You decided to dip but now you wanna trip
‘Cause another brother noticed me
I’m up on him, he up on me
Don’t pay him any attention
‘Cause I cried my tears, gave three good years
You can’t be mad at me

[Chorus]
‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

Wo oh ooh oh oh ooh oh oh ooh oh oh oh x2

(Chorus)

I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips
Hold me tighter than my Dereon jeans
Acting up, drink in my cup
I couldn’t care less what you think
I need no permission, did I mention
Don’t pay him any attention
Cuz you had your turn
But now you gonna learn
What it really feels like to miss me

(Chorus)

Don’t treat me to the things of this world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve
Is a man that makes me, then takes me
And delivers me to a destiny, to infinity and beyond
Pull me into your arms
Say I’m the one you want
If you don’t, you’ll be alone
And like a ghost I’ll be gone

All the single ladies (7x)
Now put your hands up

(Chorus)

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