Crazy In Love is the debut single of Beyoncé as a solo artist, featured on her first album, Dangerously In Love. The song features rapper/now-husband Jay-Z whom Beyoncé was privately dating at the time of its release. Crazy in Love was a critical and commercial success, being highly praised by music critics and spending 8 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song spent an impressive total of 27 weeks on the chart. It was named "Song of the Century" by the Rolling Stone publication in 2018.
A remix of the song was released in 2015 for the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
In mid-to-late 2002, Beyoncé had already started recording for her debut solo studio album that would become Dangerously in Love, which was originally planned to be released in October of 2002. The album was delayed several times to capitalise on the success of Nelly's single "Dilemma" which featured former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, which allowed Beyoncé to record more songs for the album, including Crazy in Love.
Grammy-winning producer Rich Harrison played all the instruments on this song, including the sequencers and the congas. He even took care of all the samples. Harrison had treasured the Chi-lites sample long before he met Beyoncé. He knew he could do something special with it, and was reluctant to leak it to the wrong artist. He explained to MTV News: "I hadn't really shopped it much, because sometimes you don't want to come out of the bag before it's right. People don't really get it and you'll leave them with a foul taste in their mouth. So it was just something that I held on to until I got the call from B."
When Harrison first played the beat to Beyoncé, the Texan singer initially had doubts as it seemed too retro, no one used horn riffs in the 21st century. However she came round to the idea and gave the songwriter two hours to pen the song, whilst she disappeared for a break. 120 minutes later, Harrison had written the verses and the hook, leaving the bridge for Beyoncé.
The bridge was written by Beyoncé, who was inspired by looking at herself in the mirror; as she was not wearing matching clothes and her hair was untidy, she kept saying, "I'm looking so crazy right now." Harrison sang back to her and said, "That's the hook." It also inspired the title of the song. After that Beyoncé had filled up the middle eight, she came up with the catchphrase – "Uh-oh, uh-oh, you know" – alongside Harrison.
American rapper Jay-Z became involved late in the song's production. Around 3 a.m., he came to the studio and recorded a rap verse, which he improvised in about ten minutes. The recording of "Crazy in Love" took place nearly three months following the meeting of Beyoncé with Harrison.
Release, Impact and Legacy
Speaking in an interview, Beyoncé revealed that Crazy in Love was not meant to be the lead single for the album. She revealed that it was meant to be Naughty Girl instead, however she felt that it was missing something, and that with some tweaks, Crazy in Love would be a better fit for the role of lead single. Those tweaks included adding an element of hip hop, through her then boyfriend, now husband Jay-Z, by getting him to record his verse at the last minute, just days before the release on May 18. She said she felt the people "Needed to an element of hip hop for people to relate to it more", and therefore found Jays's verse the perfect final addition to the song.
The song was released on May 18, and serviced to US radio the same day. The song was released digitally to the iTunes Store in the UK, with other countries receiving various different formats of the song, including maxi single, digital EP, CD and DVD as a music video. The song gained so much attention and airplay that it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 based on heavy rotation alone. The song was extremely successful internationally and is regarded as an iconic song in various countries.
The song featured on various year, decade and even century (so far) end charts, including publications such as Entertainment Weekly, NME, Rolling Stone (both year end at #3 and century so far, at #1), The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, Pitchfork and VH1, plus many more.
The song helped kickstart Beyoncé's solo career and helped make her name common throughout every household in the world, and is widely regarded as one of the most iconic solo debut songs of all time.
"'Crazy in Love' was another one of those classic moments in pop culture that none of us expected. I asked Jay to get on the song the night before I had to turn my album in – thank God he did. It still never gets old, no matter how many times I sing it." - Beyoncé reflecting on the success and legacy of the song in a 2011 cover story with Billboard.
Crazy In Love debuted at #58 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on the week of May 24, 2003. It then rose to #27, #13, #8, #7, #6, #3 respectively in the subsequent weeks of release and finally peaked at #1 on the week of August 2, 2003. The song spent 8 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Beyoncé's longest running #1 song since Independent Women, which spent 11 weeks atop the chart. It became the 4th biggest song of 2003 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the 40th biggest song of the 2000s decade. It sits at #77 on Billboard's US Female Songs All Time list and is certified 2x platinum in the United Kingdom, having sold over 1.2 million copies in the country alone. The song has sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide and is one of Beyoncé's bestselling songs to date.
The song was very well received by critics. They lauded the horn lines, and complemented the guest appearance of Jay-Z. AllMusic writers Tim Sendra and Steven Erlewine described the song as "a stunning pop masterpiece" and "deliriously catchy". Many others considered the song to be the best on the album, giving praise to every area of the song, from vocals, to the raps, to the instrumentation. Darryl Sterdan of Jam! noted the "Crazy in Love" is "instantly addictive horn lines". Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone wrote: "'Crazy in Love' ... roars out of the speakers on the strength of a propulsive horn sample and the charged presence of her pal, Jay-Z." Ben Ratliff of Blender magazine called the song an "itchy [and] eager-to-please" one. Marc Anthony Neal of PopMatters called the "uh-oh, uh-oh" phrase catchy.
Critics noted that this was the perfect departure from her work with Destiny's Child, commenting that it laid the perfect path for a solo career of superstardom and success
Beyoncé has performed the song at almost all her live performances, excluding select album medleys (E.G. VMAs in 2014 & 2016), and it has become a staple of her shows. She has performed the song at various award shows, including the GRAMMYs and the BET awards. The full list of performances (excluding awards shows, and minor TV appearances) includes:
- The Dangerously in Love Tour
- The Verizon Ladies First Tour (With Missy Elliott and Alicia Keys)
- I Am... Yours (Live at The Wynn Las Vegas)
- Live at Roseland - Elements of 4
- Glastonbury 2011
- Live at Atlantic City
- Super Bowl XLVII Half Time Show
- On The Run Tour (With Jay-Z)
- Made in America 2015 and Global Citizen Festival 2015
- The Formation World Tour (Both 2015 remix and the original)
- Homecoming (Coachella 2018)
- On The Run II Tour (With Jay-Z)
- Global Citizen Festival 2018 (With Jay-Z)
The Crazy in Love video starts with Beyoncé dancing and syncing the lyrics in the iconic denim shorts and white tank top combination, while Jay lip-syncs his intro lines. Then, the camera switches to a mock photoshoot with Beyoncé posing for various cameras in a khaki outfit and bangs while various cameras flash in all directions. Later in the video, Beyoncé is seen destroying a fire hydrant with her stiletto and dancing in the resulting water being sprayed everywhere. Jay is seen rapping his verse in front of a burning car that he set on fire with fuel and a lighter, while Beyoncé dances seductively around him. The video ends with Beyoncé dressed in an iconic yellow and purple Versace dress in a huge wind tunnel, dancing along to the song as it fades out and the video ends
- Beyoncé – lead vocals, background vocals, songwriting, production
- Rich Harrison – songwriting, production, instrumentation
- Pat Thrall – recording
- Tony Maserati – mixing
- Jim Caruana – engineer
- Pat Woodward – assistant mix engineer
- Luz Vasquez – assistant mix engineer
- Jay-Z – rap vocals, songwriting
- Eugene Record – songwriting
- Maurice Joshua – remixing