- Diva (Beyoncé Knowles song)
"Diva" Single by Beyoncé from the album I Am... Sasha Fierce Released January 20, 2009 Format Digital download Recorded 2008
Silent Sound Studios
Genre Hip hop, R&B Length 3:20 Label Columbia Writer(s) Beyoncé Knowles, Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford, Sean Garrett Producer Bangladesh, Sean Garrett, Beyoncé Knowles Beyoncé singles chronology "At Last"
"Diva" is a song by American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles. The song was written and produced by Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford, Sean Garrett, and Knowles for her third studio album, I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008). It was released as the album's third overall single in the United States alongside the third international single "Halo". "Diva" is an R&B song, set in a hip hop groove, and carries a stuttering beat. The lyrics of the song deliver messages of independence and female empowerment. The song boasts a beat and bassline similar to that of another Bangladesh production, "A Milli" by American rapper, Lil Wayne, and critics coined "Diva" as a "female companion" to the latter.
"Diva" received mixed to positive reviews, with critics having polarized opinions concerning its affiliation with "A Milli". Despite being released to rhythmic and urban radios only in the United States, the song reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, topping the Hot Dance Club Play chart, and attaining a high point of number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Although it was only officially released in the US, the song appeared on the charts in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
The accompanying music video for "Diva" was directed by Melina Matsoukas. It shows the singer and backup dancers in a warehouse, and presents a choreography similar to that of her previous single "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (2008). Knowles also appears in different Thierry Mugler couture pieces. The video ranked at number 13 on BET's Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2009 countdown. Although she did not perform the song in any televised appearances, the song was a part of her set list on the I Am... Tour.
Background and release
According to an interview that the composer of "Diva", Bangladesh gave with Rap-Up, the song was originally intended to be put it on the track-listing of his own mixtape. He also had plans to choose a female artist of his choice to contribute vocals to the song. However, he decided to play the song to American R&B singer Keyshia Cole. Cole, who liked the beat of "Diva", but not the whole track, eventually refused to record the song. Later she said she would sing the song, however, this time Knowles also wanted the track for her then upcoming album. Ultimately, Bangladesh decided to give Knowles the song and produced another track for Keyshia Cole. About one month after the release of I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008), it was reported that American R&B singer Ciara, who was at that particular time working on her third studio album, Fantasy Ride, had remixed "Diva". The remix was supposed to be featured on her Fantasy Ride Mixtape.
"Ego" was initially planned to be serviced as the second US urban single, and the third overall US single from I Am... Sasha Fierce, alongside the third worldwide single "Halo". However, the release of "Ego" was scrapped, and "Diva" was released instead to urban radio while "Halo" was sent for mainstream airplay on January 20, 2009. On the same date, "Diva" was sent to rhythmic radio alone. "Ego" was later released as the third urban single and overall fifth single in the US on May 19, 2009. Additionally, in Germany, "Diva" was featured as the B-side to "Halo" single. Upon the release of "Diva", contemporary music critics noted that there are also many similarities between Knowles' "Diva" and the song "A Milli" by Lil Wayne, as both feature a similar beat produced by Bangladesh. In an interview with MySpace, Knowles agreed that "Diva" seems like woman's equivalent to "A Milli". However, she said that it was not consciously. Consequently, the song became to be known as the feminine companion to Lil Wayne's "A Milli".
"Diva" is an R&B song composed in a moderate hip hop groove tempo, in the key of E major. It carries a "stuttering" beat accompanied by a "slow-rolling, bass-pumping groove". "Diva" marks a change of direction for Knowles because it features the singer rapping over a Roland TR-808 drum machine providing a strong bass, and less instruments than her usual tracks. According to Colin McGuire of PopMatters, in "Diva", there is a feel of courage and determination, while Adam Mattera of The Observer noted it could be "a perfect independent women anthem." In terms of sound quality, "Diva" bears resemblance to "Freakum Dress" and "Ring the Alarm", both featured on Knowles' second studio album, B'Day (2006). In the song, the female protagonist speaks and sings about the positive definition of a diva, explaining "diva is a female version of a hustler", and makes frequent references to her millions of dollars, even fanning herself with dollar bills. "Diva" begins with "metallic kick drum", "sly vocal stutters" and Knowles singing with a robotic voice: "I'm a, I'm a, a diva." She then continues: "A diva is the female version of a hustla". According to Nick Levine of Digital Spy, "Sasha", Knowles' alter ego also salutes her earning power in the song.
The song received mixed to positive reviews, with critics either praising or criticizing it being a female companion to "A Milli." Matos Michaelangelo of The A.V. Club said that "Diva" is a flagrant attempt to write a female version of "A Milli". Leah Greenblat of Entertainment Weekly magazine said "Diva" can make a very good feminine companion to Lil Wayne's "A Milli" thanks to their similar music instruments and aural similarities." Noting its similarity to "A Milli", Andy Kellman Allmusic picked out "Diva" as one of the three standout tracks from the album, saying that it is the only song on I Am... Sasha Fierce that bears resemblance to "Freakum Dress" and "Ring the Alarm" in terms of audacity. Stacey Anderson of Spin wrote that "Diva" places a "startling, sexy snarl over window-rattling bass". The Observer's Adam Mattera described the song as a potential source of inspiration to drag queens, however concluded that the track can also leave many persons confused and bewildered. Mariel Concepcion of Billboard noted that "Diva" is not really something new, nevertheless it manages to be the "radio-ready dance" track for which Knowles is beloved." Bill Lamb of About.com wrote that the beat structure allows Knowles to "deconstruct her public image". Alex Thornton of AllHipHop noted that Knowles seems to adopt a masculine character on "Diva", and that like many other dance songs, it is "something decent to bounce to at least."
Colin McGuire of PopMatters picked out the track as a highlight of the album, noting its "Lil Wayne-inspired beat" and describing it as "cheeky", explaining said the song "shows courage and determination" and shows the singer's "impeccable street side...with enough attitude to make it work." Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone noted Knowles turns out "modal-sounding hooks" over 808 bass on "Diva". The Village Voice's Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond described "Sasha Fierce" as "suffer [sic] no such identity crisis, brassy, big-headed, confrontational, and witty...", further reflected on "diva" with Knowles singing "A diva is the female definition of a hustla". Daniel Brockman of The Phoenix remarked that the song is "particularly intriguing" as it progresses through "hard-knockish robbery scenarios" which does not resemble Knowles' "squeaky-clean" public image. On the other hand, Alexis Petridis of The Guardian, reviewed the song negatively, stating: "The sonic trickery on the most experimental track, Diva, isn't interesting enough to distract you from the absence of a tune." Bill Lamb of About.com ranked the song at number eighty-three on its list of the Top 100 Pop Songs of 2009, writing: "One of the quirkiest songs from Beyonce's phenomenal I Am...Sasha Fierce album. The kinetic energy is positively infectious, and don't forget to check out the video."
Initially, the song charted on the Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number five. On January 3, 2009, the song debuted on the main Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 96, and peaked at number 19 on March 7, 2009, becoming Knowles' sixteenth top twenty single on the Hot 100. "Diva" also charted and reached number one on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart on March 28, 2009, giving Knowles her ninth number one on the chart. The song was successful on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, where it peaked at number three for five consecutive weeks from February 14, 2009 to March 14, 2009. The song received a gold certification by Recording Industry Association of America on March 12, 2009. As of October 6, 2010, "Diva" had sold 906,000 digital downloads in the US.
Even though the song was only officially released in the US, it still managed to chart in other countries. In Australia, the song debuted at number 47 on March 15, 2009, becoming the fourth single from the I Am… Sasha Fierce to reach the top fifty of the ARIA Singles Chart. and peaked at number 40 on April 12, 2009. In New Zealand, "Diva" debuted at number 32 on March 30, 2009 and peaked at number 26 for two non-consecutive weeks on April 6, 2009 and April 27, 2009. On the UK Singles Chart, "Diva" rose from number 173 to number 73 on the UK Singles Chart on May 17, 2009 based on downloads alone. The following week, it peaked number 72. In The Netherlands, "Diva" debuted at number 94 on the Mega Single Top 100 and peaked two weeks later at number 73, based on downloads alone.
The music video for "Diva" was shot downtown Los Angeles on November 22, 2008 and was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who worked with Knowles for several music videos. The music video premiered on the iTunes Store on December 23, simultaneously with the video for "Halo". The music video is thematically similar to the music video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" in the sense that the video is in black and white, Knowles dons her alter ego Sasha Fierce's metal glove and performs choreography with two back-up dancers with more formal leotards. Knowles wears a Gareth Pugh design in the music video as well as a couple of vintage Thierry Mugler Haute Couture pieces like a leather bodice and a reptilia inspired gown. The video was included in Knowles' remix album with videography, Above and Beyoncé. In her 2003 music video for "Crazy in Love" (2003), Knowles husband (then boyfriend) Jay-Z throws a lighter on the floor, which starts a fire along a trail of petrol to a car. Conforming to a Daily Mail's reporter, this particular scene bears a flagrant resemblance to the climax of "Diva"' accompanying music video where Knowles lights a cigar and throws the still lit lighter at a car, prompting it to explode into flames. Knowles had also chosen the exact same location under a bridge in downtown Los Angeles.
The video begins with a dictionary definition of the word "diva", before cutting to a parking lot outside of a warehouse. Knowles, wearing a pair of "dangle shades", walks past a car full of mannequin parts into the warehouse. From here, she is accompanied by her two dancers and a variety of high fashion outfits. When she states "Diva's gettin' money..." she waves a fan made of $100 bills. During the bridge to the climax, Knowles dances on a single light and then during the climax, she is seen very glossy in another wardrobe choice dancing in robotic movements to the beat with gold punctuating the black and white scene. In one scene, Knowles is seen dancing robotically in front of a set of gold-tinted mannequins; while in another, she dances against a wall with two large chains hanging from the ceiling. During the last chorus, Knowles is in her last wardrobe change in front of window which is where the paparazzi had taken photos of her. At the end of the song, Knowles walks back out to the parking lot. She lights up a cigar and throws the lighter into the car, letting it explode. As she walks away, the intro to "Video Phone" (a track from I Am... Sasha Fierce) plays. The explosion retains its original fiery colors in contrast with the black and white. The video ranked at number 13 on BET's Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2009 countdown.
Although Knowles did not perform the song in any televised appearances, the song was a part of her set list on the I Am... Tour. Eventually, the song was included on Knowles' live album, I Am... World Tour as the twelfth track. The performance of "Diva" during her I Am... Tour features Knowles performing the song while being backed up by six dancers (four of which are golden mannequins) while sporting a leopard print glow-in-the-dark leotard, black trenchcoat, leopard print stockings, high heeled boots and leopard-print sunglasses. Eventually, she would remove the trenchcoat.
Formats and track listings
- US Diva (The Remixes)
- "Diva" (Maurice Joshua Extended Mojo Remix) – 6:53
- "Diva" (Mr. Mig Extended Club Remix) – 7:09
- "Diva" (Karmatronic Club Remix) – 5:08
- "Diva" (DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio Club) – 6:45
- "Diva" (Gomi & RasJek Club Mix) – 7:27
- "Diva" (Redtop Club Mix) – 6:34
- "Diva" (DJ Jeff Barringer vs. Fingazz Extended Remix) – 7:33
- "Diva" (Maurice Joshua Mojo Dub) – 6:53
- "Diva" (DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio Dub) – 5:43
- "Diva" (Gomi & RasJek Dub) – 6:56
- Germany CD single
- "Halo" – 4:22
- "Diva" – 3:21
- UK Remix Promo
- "Diva" (Redtop Club Mix) – 6:34
- "Diva" (Gomi & RasJek Club Mix) – 7:27
- "Diva" (Mr. Miggs Fierce Hustler Mix) – 7:11
- "Diva" (DJ Jeff Barringer vs. Fingazz Mix) – 7:33
- "Diva" (DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio Mix) – 6:45
- "Diva" (Karmatronic Mix) – 5:08
- "Diva" (Maurice Joshua Mojo Mix) – 6:53
- "Diva" (Redtop Edit) – 3:31
- "Diva" (Original Radio Edit) – 3:20
Credits and personnel
- Matt Green – mixer assistant
- Michael Miller – producer assistant
- Mark "Spike" Stent – mixer
- Miles Walker – producer
Charts and certifications
Chart (2009) Peak
Australia (ARIA) 40 Australia (ARIA Urban) 12 Brazil (Billboard Hot 100) 9 Brazil (Billboard Hot Pop Songs) 7 Ireland (IRMA) 50 Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100) 73 New Zealand (RIANZ) 26 UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 72 US Billboard Hot 100 19 US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard) 3 US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard) 1 US Pop Songs (Billboard) 39
Chart (2009) Position Australian Urban Singles Chart 50 US Billboard Hot 100 82 US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs 22 US Radio Songs 75 US Hot Dance Club Play Songs 24
Country Certifications United States (RIAA) Gold
Chart precession and succession
"Long Distance" by Brandy
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
March 28, 2009 – April 4, 2009
"The Fear" by Lily Allen
Radio add dates and formats Country Date Format United States January 20, 2009 Urban Rhythmic
Release dates, record label and format details Country Date Format Label United States February 3, 2009 Dance remixes Columbia Records
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Beyoncé singlesDiscography · Videography · Songs · Awards and nominations · Tours Dangerously in Love #1's B'Day I Am... Sasha Fierce"If I Were a Boy" · "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" · "Diva" · "Halo" · "Ego" · "Sweet Dreams" · "Broken-Hearted Girl" · "Video Phone" 4"Run the World (Girls)" · "Best Thing I Never Had" · "Countdown" · "Party" · "Love on Top" Featured singles Soundtrack singles Promotional singles Other songs
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