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Beyoncé: Diane Warren apologizes for blasphemous tweet about songwriting

If you put the question like this, it sounds a bit like the beginning of an East Frisian joke: Why does Beyoncé need 24 people to write a song? But the answer is too complex for a single punch line – and is emotionally charged, as the US songwriter Diane Warren had to notice when reacting to a tweet.

Songwriterin Warren: »Bloß neugierig« Songwriterin Warren: »Bloß neugierig«

Songwriter Warren : “Just curious”

Photo: Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images

Diane Warren is undeniably a great in her field. She has written nine songs that made it to number one in the US singles chart – including evergreens such as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now« by Starship. So far, the ballad specialist seemed to be particularly annoyed that despite 13 nominations has not once won the Oscar for the best movie song. (2022 there was an honorary Oscar as consolation.)

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But on Monday, Warren tweeted, »How can there be 24 writers on a song? « – How can it 24 people writing a song? — and captioned the tweet with an eye-roll emoji. A few days earlier, Beyoncé had released her new album »Renaissance«

released the the discussions in the US music scene since then. For all songs, several composers and authors are named in the small print; for the title “Alien Superstar” are actually 24 Names in the album credits.

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Fifteen minutes later, Diane Warren hurriedly added that her tweet was not meant as criticism, she was just curious. But it was too late, numerous Beyoncé fans already responded in support of them, including with personal attacks against the 48-year-old songwriter, snarky comments on Oscar disappointments and allegations that Warren stole lines of his own.

Warren, after several tips, conceded that some of the names were mentioned because they are responsible for a track sampled in Beyoncé’s song. This concerns three very specific recordings: the house song »Unique« from the Danube Dance project by Austrian producer Peter Rauhofer with singer Kim Cooper, a speaker from the deep-house classic »Moonraker« by Foremost Poets, and an excerpt from one Interview with the founder of the National Black Theater in Harlem, Barbara Ann Teer.

»Collaboration is a skill many fail to master«

When asked by a Twitter user why someone like her who has been around 40 Being in the music business for years, didn’t know how things work with samples, Diane Warren answered: »Because I don’t use them«. In addition, Warren composed most of her songs alone – only on a few titles did she work with other songwriters such as Albert Hammond or Desmond Child. “When I write with other people, it’s a different matter,” she once said in an interview, “you have to make compromises, which I have problems with.” Warren says she almost never lets anyone into her Hollywood workspace; she always has a keyboard with her when she travels.

That a songwriting process can also be done in a completely different way, far away from any individual genius cult , said activist and author Raquel Willis, among others, in replies to Warren’s tweet. Samples, quotes, references and influences are important in all artistic aspects. “Collaboration is a skill many fail to master,” Willis continued, pointing out that it is “a white, capitalist, patriarchal notion” that brilliance can only come from isolation.

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Some music historical context was added by Terius Nash, who under who goes by the stage name The-Dream has been one of Beyoncé’s most important music production partners for years – and is also listed as a co-producer on »Alien Superstar«. The-Dream points out that in the (black) hip-hop culture, sampling was originally developed because certain things (studio musicians or studio time, for example) could not be afforded. An art form developed from this. Warren thanked her for the clarification, she didn’t know anything about it.

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The role of club culture and dance music for African American communities is one of the themes that runs through Beyoncé’s album »Renaissance«. But the large number of mentions in the credits probably also has to do with a certain caution that prevails in the music business after copyright judgments such as that against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. As a precaution, you give away a small proportion of the income from the outset. The musicians from Right Said Fred are named as co-creators of “Alien Superstar” because Beyoncé rewrites the “I’m too sexy for my shirt” from the British party hit in her song “I’m too classy for this world”. .

Of course, it is not possible to reconstruct exactly how the process of creating a Beyoncé song works. But the selection of the collaboration partners might indicate which sounds, which styles the artist was looking for. Among the 24 Those involved in »Alien Superstar« include British electronic musicians such as Luke Solomon or Labrinth as well as the alternative rapper 070 Shake or the soul singer Leven Kali. Apparently Honey Dijon, a black trans woman from Chicago, played an important role as a successful house DJ in New York and Berlin.

»Sorry for the misunderstandings«

That such a collaboration, access to influences and external inspiration nevertheless results in a singular creative achievement, that Also pointed out Taylor Swift earlier this year, who denied an interview statement from Blur singer Damon Albarn that she doesn’t write her songs herself. Just as Albarn apologized at the time, Diane Warren also regretted “the misunderstandings” surrounding her testimony. In a separate tweet, Warren said she didn’t mean to be disrespectful to Beyoncé, whom she admires and has worked with.

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That also in a collaborative The fact that everything ultimately falls back on the artist, whose name is front and center on the album, was also felt by Beyoncé on Monday: activists for the rights of people with disabilities denounced the use of a word with discriminatory connotations in the lyrics of another “Renaissance” – songs.

Beyoncé reacted – as did her colleague Lizzo before in a similar case

– and decided to change the relevant passage. Of course, outsiders cannot tell who of the ten people named in the »Heated« credits (including Drake) was responsible for the offensive choice of words.

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