Why is Beyonce calling herself Mrs Carter?
The Destiny's Child star has given up her first-name-only celebrity stature to take on her husband's surname. It's a subversive, but baffling choice.
So, what's in a name? Just ask Reginald Dwight and David Jones. Even writing Rocket Man and Ziggy Stardust (respectively) weren't enough for Elton John and David Bowie to risk a career in music under their dreary real names.
Of course, it helps if you come ready equipped with a birth name that sounds as if it were made for the stage. Something unusual or unique. Something like Beyoncé.
Only the absolute finest in popstar pedigree gets to become a global-mega-superstar under one name alone, as if success under a single appellation underlines how impressive you are. It's this that makes Beyoncé's decision to tour under her married name, Mrs Carter, all the more surprising. Here is someone at the top of their career, and they choose to reinvent themselves under their husband's name.
The Beyoncé brand is distinctive by modern celebrity standards for undergoing a slow evolution. Unlike Madonna or Gaga, she has never made shutter-speed reinvention a part of what she does.
Beyonce's early career in Destiny Child was characterised not just by great pop songs and, shall we say, a naive approach to style, but an absolute zero-tolerance policy to questions about her private life. In an era when "leaked" nude shots are considered par for the course for young popstars, Beyoncé was notable for keeping her private life off-limits.
But this has changed over time. Having kept quiet about her relationship with Jay-Z for years, the singer eventually began talking about her new husband, and soon she was talking about their baby and then she discovered Instagram and, frankly, we've not stopped hearing about it all since.
There is almost something subversive about waiting until the strongest moment of your career, which is where Beyoncé finds herself now, to do away with the infamous glossy mononym in favour of a second name your own husband doesn't even use.
Over time, Beyoncé has not only allowed her personal life to become more public but decided to make family life her defining feature. For her sixth album, Beyoncé will be a mother, a devoted wife – a single lady no more.
All about choice
Of all the feminist issues that refuse to unite their disciples, the fact that taking your husband's name is still an issue never fails to surprise me. Women whose life is equality in practice, from splitting the bills to sharing childcare, will happily take their husband's name.
It astonishes me, but then it is their choice – and lest we forget, choice is what this whole feminism malarkey is all about. And choice is nothing if it's not about being able to make individual decisions.
Tina Turner chose to keep her husband Ike's name because she had already become successful with it. Cheryl Tweedy's decision to take Ashley Cole's name wasn't half as baffling as it was to keep hold of it after discovering he had something of an open-bed policy towards other women throughout their marriage. Still, some people (of which I am one) may be of the opinion that anyone who can get that tattoo can't honestly be trusted with basic adult decisions in the first place.
Ultimately, of course, Beyoncé's name-change (albeit for one tour only) is a marketing ploy. To promote the Mrs Carter tour, she has chosen to pose in a regal looking outfit that references Queen Elizabeth I, only a bit more leggy. It's a visual stamp of authority; I, she is saying, am the alma mater of pop's new dynasty, a point her husband also made on the 2012 album Watch the Throne. But it's also an unwitting (I suspect) reference to one woman who famously never had to take a husband's name. – guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013