I’ve been a Beyoncé fan since before the “Beyhive” was a thing. Just to clarify my flavor of fandom: I’m not the type of the fan who comments “FIRST!!!!!” on her Instagram pictures–I just happen to like a lot of her songs and her music inspires in me a delusional rhythmic confidence that has embarrassed me in public on more than one occasion. In 2003, I obsessively listened to Dangerously In Love (specifically track four, “Hip Hop Star,” because apparently of all the songs, that was the one that resonated most with me as a junior high student) on repeat on my fancy anti-skip Walkman with the old school headphones that delivered high quality sound by smashing the most sensitive parts of your ears against your skull. What I’m trying to get at is, I like Beyoncé,  — regardless of her questionable elevator behavior and her sporadic flirtations with Photoshop – and that’s why I was as disappointed and shocked as you’re going to be when I tell you that Beyoncé stole the idea for her iconic “Single Ladies” video from the PBS kids’ show, Arthur.

For those of you 90s kids who grew up with cable in your household and watched Nickelodeon, Arthur is TV series (based on books by Marc Brown) is an educational show about an anthropomorphic aardvark and his anthropomorphic friends who are perpetually in third grade. It’s in its eighteenth season, and the inspiring opening theme “Believe in Yourself” is performed by Bob Marley’s children. Of the many classic kids’ shows on PBS in the 90s and 2000s – like ZOOM, Dragon Tales, Wishbone, The Big Comfy Couch, and The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon Arthur was and remains in a class of its own.

On February 3, 1999, a life-changing, seminal episode of Arthur aired. It was the eleventh episode of season three, and it was titled “Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Musical Festival.” Arthur and his best friend basically put on an imaginary Coachella with everyone they’ve ever known in the lineup. The result was a musical masterpiece that would warrant interrupting Beck at the Grammys. The episode features four original songs (which you should definitely check out), but the problematic segment is the “Jekyll and Hyde” single. The premise combined with the dance moves bears an undeniable resemblance to Beyoncé’s iconic “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” video. Compare them for yourself below:

Jekyll and Hyde (1999)

 

“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) (2008)

Obviously Beyoncé may have taken the moves to the next level, making dancing the main focus of the video instead of merely an interlude tied to the chorus, but the basic model of the music video and the inspiration for her Sasha Fierce alter ego has its origins with Jekyll and Hyde.

arthur4

arthur5

The dichotomy of good and evil – or sweet and fierce – is not a new concept. Artists have been evoking Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for over a century, but of all the concepts to use when shooting a video about being unmarried, why did Beyoncé choose the three-dancer model that Allen “Brain” Powers pioneered on Arthur nine years before she released her single? Well, the effect is undeniable. The three-dancer performance has a powerful effect on the viewer. All styled similarly to match the lead dancer in the middle, seeing three dancers performing in unison creates a “hall of mirrors” effect for the viewer that’s almost hypnotic in its cadence.

Maybe Beyoncé isn’t directly to blame for this clear, inarguable mimicry. Perhaps her music video director had a son that really liked Arthur growing up, and this very special episode stuck with him throughout the years. It’s entirely possible that Beyoncé’s camp assumed no one would ever notice the similarities, for who would link Beyoncé with an anthropomorphic aardvark? Haters may have the audacity to argue that three people dancing in unison doesn’t “belong” to any one musical artist, but let’s consider the implications of this plagiarism. If Beyoncé hadn’t stolen her moves from Arthur maybe her video would never been considered iconic, and when Taylor Swift won Best Female Video at the VMA Awards in 2009, Kanye wouldn’t have Kanyed and Taylor Swift would’ve gotten to finish and the world might be a totally difference place!

People may argue that it’s just a coincidence that both videos happen to use three dancers, but we all know the truth. Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video derives from an episode of Arthur.

arthur

 

Images: Flickr; Giphy (3)

4 thoughts on “Beyoncé Stole The Idea For ‘Single Ladies’ from PBS Show ‘Arthur’

  1. Arthur himself got the inspiration from a Bob Fosse routine performed on The Ed Sullivan show in 1969. Arthur was a huge Fosse fan. Beyoncé was obviously then inspired by Arthur. Wikipedia et al often miss out the Arthur link. It’s good to have things rectified.

Don't you sass me! ...Actually, please do.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s