this podcast asks: is beyoncé the new michael jackson?

What do you think?

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Jul 5 2018, 7:03pm

Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage, via Getty Images

Popular music criticism is a rapidly emerging field in academia, but rarely are female pop musicians given the same amount of critical study as their male counterparts. In the latest episode of Déjà Vu, a new podcast by Genius, host Stereo Williams asks the question: “Is Beyoncé the new Michael Jackson?” The hour-long episode features a serious discourse. Wesley Morris, co-host of the New York Times podcast Still Processing, and Doreen St. Felix, culture writer for New Yorker, join Stereo to unpack how Queen Bey and MJ have affected black culture and their artistic legacies.

Morris and St. Felix touch on a lot of strong points. They begin the episode by highlighting how MJ-comparisons reveal an insidious form of sexism. Male artists like Chris Brown, Usher, and Justin Timberlake all received the comparison early on in their careers, dare we even say prematurely. “She had to clear a much higher bar to even garner those comparisons,” Doreen St. Felix argues.

The episode goes on to look out at how, unlike MJ, Beyoncé is at the peak of her career despite being 20 years removed from her debut. “At this point, we’re usually grateful if artists are just as good as when they started,” Wesley observes.

Too often, it is only after an artist has past away that we appreciate what they meant to pop culture. Therefore, it is empowering to see that the work Beyoncé is creating around black femininity is being discussed now, rather than later. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if people regard Bey as better than MJ. What matters is that she is taken as seriously as him and other great musical acts. Because she most definitely deserves the respect.

You can listen to the full Déjà Vu episode here.