Revisiting Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" 15 years later
The infectious earworm showed everyone how to truly reshape pop culture with the unorthodox.
—by Da’Shan Smith
On May 18, 2003, it didn’t take long for music listeners to hear the brassy gogo-funk horns at the start of “Crazy In Love” to know that Beyoncé had her first solo hit on her hands. What was even more impressive about the Rich Harrison-produced track—at a runtime of 3 minutes and 56 seconds—is how it established Queen Bey as the dominating entity we know her as today, making for a larger impression as a debut statement.
Sampling the beginning seconds of The Chi-Lites’ 1970 song “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So),” “Crazy In Love” became the singular soundtrack of Summer ‘03. Ironically enough, the single was an A-side released to Beyoncé’s and Diddy’s “Summertime” from the Fighting Temptations soundtrack. Further adding to the irony was a feature from JAY-Z, who can be heard declaring “Yes! It’s so crazy right now!” at the intro, before eventually saying “It’s history in the making, Part 2,” an obvious reference to their 2002 duet “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde. It had almost felt like these small attention to details manifested an immediate takeover of epic proportions.
Although Beyoncé had some initial reservations about the horn riffs utilized in the track—for fear of its retro sound not meshing well with the pop music climate—it proved to make the song stand out from competition. The other element that immediately drew audiences in was the now iconic bridge “uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh no no.” Not only did it sell the song’s central message of Beyoncé falling foolishly in love with JAY (despite what her friends thought), it ushered in one of pop culture’s most important dance moves.
The video for “Crazy In Love” (in Kanye West voice) is one of the best of all time—five years before “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” bestowed a similar honor. The blazing hot Jake Nava visuals showed Beyoncé in a new light, strutting further out of her shell from Destiny’s Child, bringing her into the solo stardom legion of the Janet Jacksons, Madonnas, (and yes) Michael Jacksons. The “Uh Oh” standing-twerk dance became a moment: One that would be imitated at clubs, summer camp playgrounds, and Mo’Nique at the 2004 BET Awards.
As her debut solo statement, “Crazy In Love” set the tone for Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love era where a slew of more hits were still to come. In many ways, she set a new precedent for solo stars seeking a differentiation from their groups. The ongoing promotion of the song through televised performances only got better as time progressed. Its live debut at the 2003 BET Awards, followed by the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards (where she’d enter upside down from the ceiling to “Baby Boy”) being the most memorable.
On July 12, 2003, “Crazy In Love” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, coinciding with Dangerously In Love starting at the summit of the Billboard 200 albums chart. Due to its heavy airplay and demand in the ringtone market, the song would stay put in the top position for eight weeks.
For Rich Harrison, “Crazy In Love” established his niche sound, a magic recreated for Jennifer Lopez’s 2004 club banger “Get Right,” Amerie’s 2005 hit single “1 Thing,” and RichGirl’s 2009 cult favorite “He Ain’t Wit Me Now (Tho).” For Beyoncé and JAY-Z, their collaboration marked the start of their Grammys dominance as The Carters, while also adding a chapter to their ongoing love saga that would have many regarding them as #couplegoals.
Later in her career, it’s clear to see that Beyoncé will never let “Crazy In Love” go. It’s become a staple of iconicity for the Houston native who now has the music industry in the palm of her hands. At any Beyoncé concert, it’s a must that the song is performed, and she usually delivers the incentive at the beginning of her shows.
So enthralled with its dynamic impact, she remixed the song in a dark, sensual way for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack in 2015. Produced in a slower speed by Boots, with the addition of violins replacing the horns, the newly stylized “Krazy In Luv” would help add an air of mystique and seduction to Beyoncé’s Gangsta Wife-matriarch complex exhibited on her self-titled surprise album.
As she slayed Coachella this year with her Black Greek ‘BAK’ marching band, Beyoncé repurposed the festival as #Beychella, making history as the first black woman to headline the festival. Such a moment would not have been fully fulfilled had she omitted “Crazy In Love” from the setlist. Today, the infectious earworm still retains the vigor it held fifteen years ago — forever showing everyone how to truly reshape pop culture with the unorthodox.