TIME Music

Beyoncé’s ‘Drunk In Love’ Lawsuit Is Just the Singer’s Latest Scandal

Beyonce,JAY Z
Rob Hoffman—Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

It's tough at the top

One year after the release of her self-titled album, Beyoncé’s music is being closely analyzed yet again — and not, this time, from her Beyhive.

The singer is one of many who’s been accused of sampling without permission throughout her career. Questions of authorship and of sampling are particularly pernicious and difficult to solve in the recording industry; just this month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Beyoncé’s husband Jay Z for his sampling of a single syllable from a funk song. A new lawsuit filed by Hungarian singer Mitsou alleges that Beyoncé, Jay Z, and producer Timbaland used her song “Bajba, Bajba Pelem” at the start of “Drunk in Love.”

While musicians of all stripes can get hit with lawsuits given the unclear standards around sampling and the ephemeral nature of authorship, Beyoncé’s been hit more frequently than many of her contemporaries. Being queen, it’d seem, has a headache-inducing cost — as several of her songs and videos have come in for criticism.

  • “Baby Boy”: One of Beyoncé’s first solo singles was alleged by songwriter Jennifer Armour to bear substantial similarities to her “Got a Little Bit of Love for You,” which had been submitted as a demo to Beyoncé’s label. “Armour cannot prove Beyoncé had access to Armour’s demo tape before composing the allegedly infringing elements of her own song,” the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a decision declining even to address the songs’ similarity.
  • “If I Were a Boy”: The lead-off single for Beyoncé’s album I Am… Sasha Fierce was penned by songwriter BC Jean, whose own version of the song was rejected by her record label. After Beyoncé discovered the song and recorded it, a Fox News gossip columnist wrote that Jean had been “strong-armed by Beyoncé’s people.” That seems a bit overzealous: For her part, Jean told an interviewer that she’d been surprised her first-ever song had been recorded by another artist, but that the Beyoncé version had “opened so many doors, it’s amazing.”
  • “Countdown”: Beyoncé took inspiration from contemporary ballet in her “Countdown” video, but one of her muses was far from flattered. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker claimed “plagiarism”; though it’s difficult to cite a source in a music video, Beyoncé took it upon herself to credit De Keersmaeker in a statement after the choreographer spoke out. “I’ve always been fascinated by the way contemporary art uses different elements and references to produce something unique,” Beyoncé said.
  • “Run the World (Girls)”: The apocalyptic, disturbing clip for this 2011 single was specifically compared to the work of photographer Pieter Hugo, down to imagery of pet hyenas on chains. And her performance of the song at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards was compared to the similar work of choreographer Lorella Cuccarini. “Thank god for YouTube or I would have never been exposed to something so inspiring,” Beyoncé later said.
TIME celebrity

Watch Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Dance Together at a Justin Timberlake Concert

Of course, it was when Jay Z was on stage performing "Holy Grail"

Tay-Tay and Queen Bey apparently spent a whole bunch of quality time together this weekend. First, they partied together at Taylor’s 25th birthday bash Friday night. Then they got together Sunday night to attend Justin Timberlake’s concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Obviously, magic things happened.

Reigning King of Brooklyn Jay Z joined JT on stage to perform their hit “Holy Grail”:

Tay went nuts during this song and turned around to sing and dance with Beyoncé, who was right behind her:

Later in the evening, Swift was also spotted doing some kind of hula dance with the Haim sisters:

Oh, Tay, starting off your 25th year exactly as we’d expect.

TIME celebrities

What Could Beyoncé and Taylor Swift Be Talking About in This Photo?

The two pop stars crossed paths Friday

Pop music’s two biggest stars—the only two musicians to have graced TIME‘s cover in 2014—met up Friday at Billboard‘s Women in Music event. It’s not the first time Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have interacted—remember the Kanye West incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards?—but it’s rare that such pop powerhouses are in the same room, let alone taking a moment to catch up.

Allow us to speculate about what they could have talked about:

  • Taylor was thanking Beyoncé for releasing her surprise album on her birthday, because what do you get for the girl who has everything? Try 17 new Beyoncé videos.
  • They were having a thoughtful debate about Spotify and their respective decisions to leave it and embrace it.
  • Beyoncé recently watched The Fault in Our Stars and wanted to know what Taylor and John Green talked about the other day.
  • They were discussing the “7/11″ video. “Wait, so it’s not about the convenience store chain?” Taylor asks. “Also, spinning on one foot with my hands up is really hard.”

Read next: This Is How the Internet Talks About Beyoncé and Taylor Swift

TIME Music

Beyoncé, One Year Later: What Have We Learned?

Beyoncé and Jay Z
Beyoncé and Jay Z Mason Poole—Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

An album about marriage and hard work still holds up despite the headlines and gossip, one year later

When you’re making awkward small talk at your company holiday, consider this conversation starter: “Where were you when the Beyoncé album came out one year ago?” On Dec. 13, were you already asleep, waking up to your phone buzzing with texts and tweets? Were you in the middle of recapping Scandal? Anybody with a passing interest in pop culture has a story about that time, and Beyoncé knows it — as she boasts on Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint track “Feelin’ Myself,” “Changed the game with the digital drop / know where you was when that digital popped / I stopped the world / male or female it make no difference.” If you do find yourself talking to someone who claims he or she couldn’t care less, maybe excuse yourself and pretend you need to hit the snack table.

Beyoncé’s The Pinkprint reminder comes at a good time, and not just because she’s celebrating her surprise album’s anniversary. With Taylor Swift covering magazines, selling records like crazy and ditching Spotify, it’s easy to forget that one of the biggest music stories of the year technically happened in 2013 — and was felt for months after, especially as her personal life made headlines.

Beyoncé’s little surprise defied a major norm of releasing an album in today, which is waiting. It’s not unusual for pop albums to have dragging promotional cycles and require several singles before building enough momentum to secure a release date. (“Fancy,” which propelled Iggy Azalea to the top of the charts, was the fourth single in a year to come in advance of her album The New Classic, though Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime show and HBO documentary helped whet appetites for her music earlier in 2013.) Considering how common advanced streams and album leaks are, new records are also often fractured experiences: it’s rare that fans can simultaneously react to new music on the scale they did with Beyoncé.

The industry ramifications were immediately apparent after Beyoncé sold 430,000 copies in 24 hours and went platinum by its third week. A surprise release with 17 music videos generates publicity for its novelty, but it’s also a savvy move for quality artists who dislike how much weight is given to that first big single — and how much of an album’s narrative is shaped by it. Beyoncé doesn’t have as hard a time putting out an album as, say, Ciara, but even “Run the World (Girls)” only peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 after mixed reviews — not exactly an auspicious sign for an album that ultimately gave the world “Love on Top” and “Countdown.”

But Beyoncé was a landmark release for Beyoncé the artist and Beyoncé the person, too, not just Beyoncé the businesswoman. After years of releasing the kind of female empowerment anthems she’s championed since her Destiny’s Child days, she explored the grey areas of relationships with refreshing nuance and honest self-examination. After years of being tight-lipped about her relationship, she opened up about her marriage to Jay Z with considerable detail: she addressed their sex life (“Partition”), their daughter (“Blue”), petty fights (“Jealous”) and the rough patches: on the Drake collaboration “Mine” she sings, “Been having conversations about break-ups and separations / I’m not feeling like myself since the baby / are we gonna even make it?”

The answer to that last question seemed to be a resounding “Yes!” when the two announced in April their co-headlining On the Run Tour, which seemed like the ultimate way to flaunt their power-couple status while efficiently dealing with summer child care. (The On the Run Tour was like Take Your Child to Work Day but 20 times in a row — and for people who probably never have to work a day in their lives again.) Beyoncé reminded us that a successful marriage, like her massively successful career, requires hard work, and few pop stars embody a work ethic like Beyoncé’s — there’s a reason they sell inspirational coffee mugs that say “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé.” Their marriage wasn’t without a few bumps here and there, but it was still a triumph.

But in the months that followed, the answer to the question she posed on “Mine” seemed less certain. Rumors of Jay Z cheating have been around for almost as long as Beyoncé has been singing about cheaters, but Solange’s elevator attack on Jay Z after the Met Gala prompted celebrity rubberneckers to speculate about their marital health. More serious rumors came later in the summer: a website that some deemed reputable for previously calling the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes split hinted in a blind item that a divorce was imminent; another source told the New York Post that emergency meetings with lawyers were the only things keeping the On the Run tour from going up in flames.

Because Beyoncé revealed so much of herself on this album compared to her other releases, I found it harder to keep the art and the artist separate. As divorce rumors swirled, they creeped into my headphones, and I found myself wondering this summer — get the Serial theme song ready — was an album that seemed to about celebrating marriage, flaws and all, actually about the end of one? Yes, marriage is hard work, but is letting go of one even harder?

This interpretation of the album isn’t necessarily spot-on, and it certainly doesn’t apply to every song. But for a handful of tracks on the album, this hypothetical perspective gives them a whole new meaning. There’s no denying that “Haunted” is about sex and lingering fantasy, but there’s little evidence in the lyrics that it’s about a happy, stable marriage — in fact, a line about “ghost in the sheets” hints more at dealing with some kind of loss than it does her sexual appetite. That sense of loss is also palpable on “XO,” which in months since its release has only seemed more urgent and wounded — it’s still a love song, but maybe the love song you’d write after everything nearly fell apart. “Mine” may not be ripped from her diary given its references to getting married and carried away, but the song’s hook — “I just wanna say you’re mine, you’re mine” — sounds resigned. Why can’t she say that he’s hers? What’s getting in the way?

Beyoncé certainly isn’t a conventional breakup album. She closes the album with a just-the-two-of-us ode to her daughter, but I don’t think its ending — Blue Ivy Carter literally asking where Daddy is — is a secret clue. (Besides, Beyoncé seemed to largely squash the chatter by bringing her family on stage during the MTV Video Music Awards and then renewing her vows with Jay Z in October.) But it’s a testament to Beyoncé that after believing I knew the album like the back of my hand, a new perspective offered a completely different — and equally rewarding — listening experience. Lyrics I had heard dozens of time popped out at me like they were new. Songs I thought were happy now bum me out. Surprising fans with a deeply personal album and 17 gorgeous music videos is impressive, but so is the fact that Beyoncé’s personal life could go south and the album’s messages would be just as relevant.

If you’re looking for Beyoncé’s next surprise, just listen a little closer — she may have already written it.

TIME Music

Watch Beyoncé’s Short Film Celebrating the Anniversary of Her Self-Titled Album

“You can’t put your finger on who I am. I can’t put my finger on who I am.”

Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album — which just this week helped her become the most Grammy-nominated woman in history — turns one tomorrow. In honor of this anniversary, the singer released a cinematic, eleven-minute film called “Yours and Mine.” The short film features Beyoncé’s reflections on fame, family and feminism, narrated over dramatic black and white footage, mostly of Beyoncé herself but occasionally utilizing more abstract visuals.

Reflecting on her megastar status, she says, “I sometimes wish I could just be anonymous and walk down a street just like everyone else.” Of her marriage to Jay-Z, she says that all her successes would be empty without someone to share them with. And on the topic of feminism — a word she’s arguably helping to bring into the mainstream — she admits that the loaded nature of the term used to scare her. Not anymore. “Honestly, it’s very simple,” she says. “It’s just a person that believes in equality for men and women.”

Some might call the video self-indulgent, but Beyoncé’s musings are down-to-earth, if not earth-shattering. The video seems, more than anything, like an opportunity for a woman who is so often seen refracted through the manufactured prism of fame to share a piece of her inner life. “When you’re famous, no one looks at you as a human anymore,” she says. “You become the property of the public.” For these eleven minutes, self-conscious as they are, her humanity shines through.

TIME Music

Nicki Minaj Teams Up With Beyoncé for a Second Time on ‘Feelin’ Myself’

“Stinging with the Queen Bey”

Given the success of their first collaboration — the remix of Beyoncé’s song “Flawless” brandished in many a moment of empowerment — it’s not surprising that Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé would team up for a second round of fierceness. Minaj announced the collaboration with the release of the track list for her upcoming album The Pinkprint, and the result, “Feelin’ Myself,” hit the Internet this morning.

The divas switch off rapping and singing, periodically changing up the pace. As the song’s title suggests, its message is one of unencumbered self-confidence: “Male or female, it make no difference, I stop the world,” Beyoncé sings. “World stop,” she commands, and the music pauses. “Carry on,” she allows, and the beat returns.

The song practically begs for another female duo to try to match the combined swagger of Minaj and Beyoncé. It’s a tall order. As Minaj raps, “We dope girls, we flawless, we the poster girls for all this.”

The Pinkprint drops on Dec. 15.

TIME celebrities

Jay Z and Beyoncé Vacation in Iceland for the Rapper’s 45th Birthday

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Candids
Jay-Z and Beyonce attend the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola—Getty Images

The couple stayed at a "private luxury resort and spa" that is "fit for a king"

Before they mingled with English royalty, musical royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z enjoyed a getaway for the rapper’s birthday.

According to local news outlets, the couple spent his 45th birthday (he was born Dec. 4) at Iceland’s ritzy The Trophy Lodge. On its sparse site, the property touts itself as a “private luxury resort and spa” that is “fit for a king.”

Per the Nordic outlet Nútíminn, the couple arrived with bodyguards in tow via helicopter Dec. 1, with guests joining later for a party at the hotel.

Their location of choice – nestled in the mountains and beneath Langjokull glacier – may not be a household name, but it’s definitely known in high-flying circles. According to the paper, the entire Lodge has recently been rented out by “rich Russians and other tycoons.”

The couple jetted out over the weekend, just in time to hit Sunday’s New York City premiere of Annie with daughter Blue Ivy, 2, in tow.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME royals

Will and Kate Visit 9/11 Museum

The Duchess Of Cambridge (C) lays a wreath for 9/11 victims next to the Duke of Cambridge while the royal couple pause for reflection in the Memorial Plaza at ground zero in New York City on December 9, 2014. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez—AFP/Getty Images

It was pouring rain, but that didn't stop them

On a foul and rainy Tuesday morning, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited New York’s 9/11 museum to pay tribute to those who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Will and Kate paused to look at the panel honoring victims of Flight 93 before the Duchess placed a bouquet of flowers over the names of the victims. The royal couple also spent a moment reflecting in front of one of the tridents from Tower One before their 20-minute tour of the museum. The Duchess, who is five months pregnant, wore a pink coat by Mulberry over a dress by Seraphim.

MORE: What happened on twitter when Beyoncé and Jay Z met Will and Kate

Last night, the British royal couple met American royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where they watched the Brooklyn Nets play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cavaliers star LeBron James, also known as King James, was also there.

TIME celebrities

This Is How the Internet Talks About Beyoncé and Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift and Beyoncé
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Bronson Stamp

Facebook data shows which words readers associate with the pop stars

It’s perhaps no surprise that Beyoncé and Taylor Swift dominated social channels in 2014, but the way they were discussed was unusually similar, according to a dataset gathered from millions of posts on Facebook. What word best describes Beyoncé? (Flawless?) Is Taylor Swift really cool?

So TIME asked Facebook to take a look at the most popular words used in posts discussing the various Person of the Year candidates, discarding common words like “the” and “when” that have no meaning out of context. Of the top 10 words that show up most for Taylor and Beyoncé, six overlap: “favorite,” “funny,” “amazing,” “cute,” “pretty,” “happy.”

For the words that don’t overlap, Taylor is “awesome,” “catchy,” “cool,” and “perfect,” while Beyoncé is “beautiful,” “flawless,” “crazy” and “blue” — though that last one suggests more people are talking about her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, than feeling sad.

MORE: The Top 10 Beyoncé Moments of 2014

Too bad for Beyoncé, however: TIME unveiled its Person of the Year shortlist on Monday, and she didn’t make the cut—but Taylor did, alongside Apple’s Tim Cook, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and Vladimir Putin. Beyoncé is in good company, however: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom TIME readers selected as their favorite candidate in the online poll, also did not make the shortlist.

TIME’s Person of the Year will be revealed on the Today show on Wednesday morning, coinciding with posts on Facebook and Twitter from TIME.


Morning Must Reads: December 9

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Exclusive: Putin Cut Ukraine Criticism From Speech Ahead of Peace Talks

Russia’s President apparently cut out a blistering critique of Ukrainian authorities from a Dec. 5 speech just moments before delivery, TIME’s Simon Shuster reports, as his position on the conflict with his country’s neighbor softens ahead of the next round of peace talks

How Sharing Your Health Data Could Change Medical Research

A slew of companies and organizations promise to tear down barriers to data collection and sharing by encouraging patients to give away their information

Senate to Release Torture Report

The report, expected on Tuesday, will shed light on the CIA’s use of so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” in the years after 9/11

President Obama Gets Personal With Stephen Colbert

Obama took his first and final turn on the Colbert Report Monday night, fending off verbal assaults from the faux-conservative comedian. The appearance on the satirical show was partly meant to highlight the ongoing open enrollment for health insurance in 2015

Second Nor’easter Is Coming

A second nor’easter in two weeks will slug the Interstate 95 corridor starting Tuesday, prompting winter storm watches and warnings in six states. The storm is expected to arrive with strong winds and 2 in. of rain from Maine to New Jersey

Prince William and Kate Just Met Beyoncé and Jay Z

The momentous encounter took place Monday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where both couples watched the Brooklyn Nets play the Cleveland Cavaliers, which meant LeBron James was also in the same room. The royal couples had courtside seats, and sat across from each other

New Batch of Ferguson Grand Jury Documents Released

Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor who oversaw the Ferguson police shooting inquiry, has released additional grand jury documents after not including a law-enforcement interview with a key witness in the initial public release of evidence

Portland Tells Uber to Stop Operating

The City of Portland filed a lawsuit against Uber on Monday, alleging that the ride-sharing service broke local codes. Officials said Uber was “in violation of the City of Portland’s Private for Hire Transportation Regulations,” in a suit just three days after Uber’s Portland launch

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Set for Re-Election Bid

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus formally declared his bid for a third two-year term on Monday evening in an email to members. “With such support it is impossible for me to say no,” Priebus wrote to members of the committee

Sierra Leone Has Highest Number of Ebola Cases

Sierra Leone has surpassed Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola cases, according to the most recent World Health Organization statistics. The WHO said transmission of the virus was “intense” in Sierra Leone

Malaria Deaths Nearly Halved Since 2000

According to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2014, the mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide since 2000, and the number of infections went from 173 million the same year to 128 million in 2013

Actor Who Played The Addams Family Son Has Died

Ken Weatherwax, who played the Addams Family’s pudgy, cake-loving son, Pugsley, on the 1960s television hit, died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 59. The actor was best known for his memorable role in the cult series, but later said the part stymied his acting career

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