Beyonce has a new double CD — I Am… Sasha Fierce — and I think it’s a pretty good set of music even though some of her hardcore fans feel she sold out.  I understand she wants to widen her fan base.  She doesn’t want to be Beyonce.  She wants to be Barbara Streisand. 

The biggest hit from her CD so far is — If I Were a Boy — and when you listen to the song, you are taken on a fascinating journey of gender identification and sexual role playing.  Of course, the video ruins the song by hammering you over the head with the twist of the story by adding ridiculous and unnecessary dialogue.


The real power of If I Were a Boy is in the re-singing of the song on YouTube by ordinary people with extraordinary talent.  I have selected some of my favorite YouTube performances to show you the power of the lyric without beating you over the head with Beyonce’s invented dialogue.  I am a fan of the simple presentation without pretense or fancy staging or expensive cameras and microphones.

First up is my favorite — Rin on the Rox — they’re singing in a bathroom and they really understand, and convey, the raw emotion of the song.  The song’s melody is challenging and their harmony is good.  The song starts off in a low register and then, in a few moments, you have to go into your belt voice.  That’s a big challenge even for the hardiest singer.  With video views nearing 600,000 as of this writing, Rin on the Rox are the YouTube queens of If I Were a Boy.

UPDATE — February 20, 2009: YouTube suspended Rin on the Rox. Google deleted all their videos. Their version if “If I Were a Boy” had over 3 million views before the video was yanked. Here’s another version of the video that one of their fans uploaded. Let’s see how long it stays online.

Here are Erin and Roxanne on The Ellen Show. Enjoy their fun talent, won’t you?

Okay, now back to the other “If I Were A Boy” videos that are still on YouTube...

Next is katbriones.  If you can get over the low quality of the recording in spots — I think her recorder hiccoughs midway through — and if you can ignore her cat and also her insufferable coughing before she begins singing, you will enjoy an exquisite voice.  Imagine if she smiled a bit and cared to put a little more energy into her performance, and you can easily understand how superstar power is created.

Sheridan1992 also puts for a fine effort.  She starts off a little shaky, and sometimes gets behind the song, but once she hits the first high notes, she settles down and you can enjoy a fun performance from a promising young woman.  Every time she touches her hair, take a drink.

Whitney Jaye is another favorite.  She can’t wait to hit the belt, and I enjoy her range of tone and emotion:  She’s doing this because she loves the song.  I also can’t help thinking something is going to roll down the stairs and smack her dead in the back of the head.

We finish up our If I Were a Boy roundup with a shining performance from fall13out.  I love the tone of her voice, but the best part is when she hits the belt.  She moves away from the camera and the microphone because she knows she will blow away the sound.

That’s our YouTube review of If I Were a Boy. 

Which performance did you like the best?  The least? 

If you find any other great YouTube performances of the song that are raw, unpolished, real, informal — and packed with talent and not phony post-production values — please post the URL so we can enjoy what you like.

14 Comments

  1. Wow David!!! What a topic! And my internet connection is killing me today, probably because of super heavy traffic – what a bummer!!!
    I have to wait till past midnight to enjoy those clips and come back!
    I always find raw performance enjoyable, can get to know so many hidden talents.

  2. Hi Katha!
    Sorry to hear about your internet connection. Mine died yesterday for about four hours, so I know how it kills the entire living experience!
    Please check back in once you have a chance to view them and review them for us!
    I, too, enjoy the raw, live performance. There are mistakes and unexpected joys. Too much polish and shine and the experience becomes robotic and stale.

  3. Thanks, Katha! I do like Rin on the Rox a lot, too. They certainly are into giving the song their all and I love it they’re singing live. Imagine if they stood up and could actually properly breathe: They’d be even greater!

  4. David!
    I drank coffee throughout! A lovely song and some great singing. It’s a tough call but for me it’s a tie between rin on the rox and fall13out. The Whitney Jaye one I didn’t like much.

  5. Heh! Love it, Dananjay! It is a terrific song with a wonderful lesson for young women today. I think that’s why it is so popular to perform on YouTube: They can give voice to their own sense of equality.
    Erin and Roxanne are definitely a dynamite pair. I’m glad you listened to fall13out — she’s pretty amazing. I take your point about Whitney.

  6. David! I agree, i think that’s why it has resonated with these and i suppose many other young women because they understand where the lyrics are coming from.