What makes a woman fierce and independent? Her lack of a boyfriend? Her stiletto heels and all-girl posse? Her ability to make her ex jealous? Few big stars play up the image of the independent woman as much as Beyoncé Knowles does. Her hugest hit to date has been called "an anthem for women" and compared to Aretha Franklin's 1967 hit "Respect" and Gloria Gaynor's 1978 "I Will Survive." But does "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" have a deep point to make about female independence? In other words, is "Single Ladies" more than just a catchy dance song? Well…we're not actually sure.
About the Song
Beyoncé Knowles (vocals)
I Am…Sasha Fierce
Christopher Stewart, Terius Nash, Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles
C. "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "TheDream" Nash, Beyoncé Knowles
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
The first half of Beyoncé's album I Am…Sasha Fierce is full of soaring, sometimes sugar-sweet personal songs. On the Sasha Fierce half, though, Beyoncé moves from private vulnerabilities to fierce dance moves and the importance of getting over ex-boyfriends (all while looking good in whatever she's wearing). But why does the singer split her public image (and her whole album) in two in the first place?
It seems like Beyoncé is playing with the old stereotype that there are two kinds of women—the good girl and the bad girl, or the virgin and the whore. It's hard to be a "good girl" (think The Taming of the Shrew, or even Madame Bovary) so Beyoncé created Sasha Fierce to express her wilder side. But some would say this split is problematic for women, and should have been thrown out as soon as the women's movement came along. Is Beyoncé playing up this troublesome binary, or resisting it in her own super-glamorous way? Is the so-called female anthem of the new millennium actually the stuff of a Jane Austen novel?
On the Charts
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" has been immensely praised and awarded since its 2008 release, peaking at number one for two weeks on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and U.S. Hot Digital charts.
The song peaked at number one on Brazilian charts, reached number two in Canada and Turkey, and got top-forty ratings in over a dozen other countries.
"Single Ladies" was the Song of the Year at the 52nd Grammy Awards. The song received additional awards for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and I Am…Sasha Fierce was awarded Best Contemporary R&B Album. Beyoncé also won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal performance for "Halo," a single on the same album, bringing Beyoncé up to a record six Grammys in one night, more than any other woman in history.
The song was Rolling Stone's #1 Song of the Year for 2008.
The "Single Ladies" music video won three MTV awards in 2009—Video of the Year, Best Choreography, and Best Editing. The video was also the Video of the Year at the 2009 BET Awards.