In case you missed it, the Grammys were on last Monday. The award show is not so much about recognising talent, as recognising glamour, and then bowing down accordingly. Case in point: super power couple, Beyoncé Knowles Carter and her husband, Sean, also known as Jay Z.
In 2017, it was Beyoncé who was nominated for her magnum opus, Lemonade, but this year it was Jay Z’s turn for his album, 4:44, which was ostensibly a reply to Lemonade, which was ostensibly a chronology of Jay Z’s cheating.
In short: it was a full circle moment and proper family event.
Which means their eldest child, Blue Ivy, who just turned six, accompanied her parents to the show. (Their eight-month-old twins, Rumi and Sir, were presumably under close supervision at home, possibly nibbling on perfectly geometrical cheese squares and organic plums shipped in direct from France, while displaying for their nannies what a perfect pull-up looks like).
While the twins remain shrouded in shimmering secrecy, Blue Ivy was front and centre. She is, after all, an integral part of The Carter Family brand; the diffusion line in-waiting, the littlest Emperor; the cornerstone; the living embodiment of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s reconciliation and renewed commitment to each other. Without her there is no holy triumvirate, no trinity, no brand-extension. Beyoncé once sang “nothing real can be threatened”, and Blue is that reality.
Proof of this may be found in the cameos she’s made in her parent’s music – a single from the album Beyoncé is dedicated to her and called simply, Blue. She has rapped on her father’s songs, and appeared in her mother’s and her father’s music videos.
And it was Blue who stole the show at the Grammys. Wearing all-white, in contrast to her parents black wardrobe and serving a look that is best described as “Intentional Haughtiness”, the six-year-old divided her time between chastising her parents, looking bored, demanding snacks from her mother, exhaling loudly and screwing up her face whenever the camera was on her.
This, it must be said, was a glory to behold. Blue, who was once described by her mother in one word, “fire”, provided not just a glimpse into the familial dynamics of pop culture’s royal family, but a wide open window on the realities of parenting.
Beyoncé Knowles Carter no longer gives interviews. Her website and Instagram account, (which boasts more than 110 million followers) are as tightly curated as the Louvre (with easily as much security).
So powerful are the images released from the Beehive, they require no captions. Ten years ago, Beyoncé let her long-term goal be known, telling Marie Claire magazine, “I don’t wanna be a hot girl. I wanna be iconic.”
Beyoncé has achieved this, making marriage problems practically aspirational. Right now, the only thing more iconic than Beyoncé is the Statue of Liberty, and even she’s under siege.
A huge part of Beyoncé’s status can be found in her careful cultivation of mystique. There is only so much we really know, hence why her album had such an impact: we had no idea all this family drama was going on. We receive veiled allusions in song and glimpses through multimedia, but nobody enters the temple; they may only offer praise from a distance, (read: Twitter).
And yet. Watching how Beyoncé, in sunglasses, and shoulder-length diamond earrings, had to hold Blue’s juice popper, just so, in case she spilt it and incurred the wrath of her daughter, was exquisite. The rough equivalent of watching the Queen sweep up after her corgis.
Worse, or better still, depending on your point of view, was how Beyoncé and Jay were relegated to the status of embarrassing oldies, as Blue admonished them for clapping too soon during a speech. And they weren’t even clapping that hard!
These two have spent years building up a brand grounded in holy mystery. But in one night, Blue Ivy, bless her, has managed to rip the curtain between their artfully curated imagery and ordinary life straight down the middle. You cannot pretend to sit atop the world when you’re holding your six-year-old’s juice box. You cannot pretend you live in the throne room of heaven when you’re employed as your daughter’s snack dispenser.
This is thrilling, not simply because it has humanized Beyoncé and Jay Z, but because it signals to every parent that you can plan a date night, or a special event, or attendance to your cousin’s wedding. Sure, sure, you can RSVP “plus kid!”. You can wear your best dress, black leather beret and your partner can wear his new suit. You can even fool your friends and post all the glamorous highlights to Instagram; you can sit in the best seat in the house. Hell, you can be the literal guest of honour.
But your kid? Your kid does not give a crap about who you are or what you’re trying to do here. Your kid does not and never will see the value of your brand, iconic or otherwise. And this, at last, is something to give proper thanks for.