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Why Beyoncé Getting Older Is a Wish Come True

3 minute read

Everybody gets older — even Beyoncé, who celebrates her 33rd birthday Thursday.

But while it’s a common stereotype that female celebrities want to stay young forever, the truth may be just the opposite for her. (And not just because she makes sure to remind listeners not to forget the date 9-4-81 on songs like “Get Me Bodied.”)

In 2003, when the singer’s debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, was just about to hit shelves, she suggested in an interview with TIME that she was actually interested in getting older, not younger. It wasn’t the first time her name appeared in the magazine: In 2001, an article about Destiny’s Child’s Grammy nominations and intra-group disputes stated that she had officially “earned the right to go by a single name.” But even after she struck out on her own, the then-21-year-old was still worried about making the right impression. “If you listen to the album, you’ll see that I’ve evolved into a woman,” the singer, who was already rumored to be linked to her now-husband Jay Z, told TIME — but writer Josh Tyrangiel observed that some of the songs sound like they’re about what she “imagines women go through” and that at times “it’s as if she mistook seriousness for maturity.”

But, she said, that was what she was going for:

Beyoncé admits that she wanted to sound old. She originally nixed the track Daddy (sample lyric: “I want my unborn son to be like my daddy”) because she thought it made her seem immature. It’s plenty corny, but it’s also the one song on Dangerously in Love that reflects her life at this transitional moment, as she arrives at adulthood in a very public way. She’s still not sure it was a good idea to include Daddy. “So I put it last,” she says with a laugh so forceful, she tips over sideways onto a restaurant banquette. “They can find it if they want. I think it’s a beautiful song, but it’s really personal, and people don’t want to hear that all the time. Anybody who wants to skip it, I’m not mad at them. I’ve got tons of songs–enough to maybe put out another solo album in December–and they’re gonna like some of them.”

From the June 30, 2003, issue of TIME
From the June 30, 2003, issue ofTIME

So, happy birthday, Beyoncé. As with every birthday, it comes with getting older, which is just what you wanted. Leave it to Queen Bey to make being a grown woman desirable in an industry that worships youth — and to have started on that track even before she was a grown woman herself.

And now that you have one wish settled, check out TIME.com’s list of 33 more birthday wishes for Beyoncé.

Read the full 2003 interview with Beyoncé here, in TIME’s archives: Destiny’s Adult

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com