Beyonce Opens Up With Her Most Personal Video to Date: “1+1” (Video Analysis)

She’s had killer live performances on American Idol, The Billboard Music Awards, the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, among many others. But Beyoncé has not been able to secure her usual chart domination with the singles she’s released from her latest album, 4.

The record is to her what My December was to Kelly Clarkson or what Rated R was to Rihanna: a significantly less commercially mainstream compilation of vulnerable songs that serve more as aural diaries than club-banging monster-hits.

Beyoncé’s willingness to share her innermost feelings on 4 isn’t just limited to the lyrics. The music videos she’s released thus far from the record have been layered with intricate stories that remove the dance floor diva mask of “Single Ladies” and replace it with an artist on the brink of full emotional exposure. The latest and strongest offering? The just-released video for the album’s stirring opening track, “1+1.”

The video serves as a thesis on sex from a female’s perspective. Or rather, Beyoncé’s perspective of what she believes is the (somewhat essentialist) female experience of sex.

To Beyoncé, sex is not just about being physically intimate with a man. She places a strong emphasis on the emotional connection, which signifies the symbiotic relationship of love and lust.

This is most evident in the scenes where Beyoncé is dancing with her man, leaning on him for support and trusting that he’ll keep her safe. She’s fearless about falling, thereby allowing herself to be completely free when with him; her dance moves almost look like the “trust your partner” icebreaker game made famous by summer camp counselors across America. It is shots such as these and the close-ups of her crying from joy that really express Beyoncé’s conviction that love is as much of a part of sex as physical attraction.

Of course, there’s raw sexiness, too, with interspliced shots of B in tantalizing lingerie or suggestively wiping the sweat off her face. It’s the mix of tenderness, trust and sex that offers her definition of, in her words, “making love.”

Even the colors of the video showcase the merging of the physical and emotional. The shots in which Beyoncé is scantily clad in leopard print lingerie find her against a fiery red backdrop, the core of which burns like an ember and adds a layer of smoke to the room.

By contrast, the scenes that spotlight the aspect of trust and emotional connection are awash in a delicate indigo tint, providing a tranquil setting with a hint of vulnerability.

And when covered in gold, Beyoncé is basking in a glow of the after-effect of her and her lover’s coming together. Mixed in with the diamonds shimmering off of her skin, the gold symbolizes the lovers’ ultimate union that Beyoncé is singing about. She believes that making love removes a woman from her current dimension and transcends her to an ethereal state of being, as further evidenced by the golden aura and glimmering smile that closes the video.

During the musical bridge, the video revs up its sexual engine by framing kaleidoscopic shots of the indigo, red, and gold all crashing into one another. With this scene, the sensuality and vehemence of Beyoncé’s sexual experience is on full display.

The title of “1+1” also captures the concept of the video. The song is named after two individuals bonding together to become one, which is precisely how the sex is depicted. The video opens with Beyoncé by herself and continues to focus entirely on her, grounding her as the strong female character we’ve admired through previous works like “Independent Women” and “Run The World (Girls).”

A man does appear in the video, but only half way through and his face is not shown. The focus never shifts from Beyoncé; it’s her feelings that matter. Even in this collision of bodies and passion, her individuality remains fierce and intact – which is a big part of the message of the song.

Throughout her career, Beyoncé has delivered some of the most unforgettable music videos in recent memory (just ask Kanye!). But none of her earlier videos approach the intimacy level of “1+1.” Artistically brilliant and stuffed with intricate symbolism, the video is easily one of the most honest of the year.

“1+1” may not be the radio hit expected from Beyoncé. Its accompanying video, however, is a true testament to her artistry and fully exemplifies the rawness and personal exposure of 4 as a whole. Besides, it doesn’t hurt the eyes that she has never looked more gorgeous. Personally, I applaud Beyoncé for stretching beyond her comfort zones and creating such a masterful and exquisite piece of work.

Let’s just hope the little Embryoncé growing inside of her doesn’t figure out that this video was shot around the time of his or her conception.

Alex Nagorski is a contributor to MuuMuse. All .GIFs courtesy of .GIF master T. Kyle MacMahon of MTV Buzzworthy!

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