As a female, the word “sorry” can usually be found at the end of every other sentence.
When someone tells you about the shitty day they had. “I’m sorry.” Like you had something to do with their boss being an asshole. When someone bumps into you on the street. “I’m sorry.” Like you were the one not paying attention to the other human being’s existence. When you arrive five minutes late to something. “I’m sorry.” Even in emails, I find myself apologizing. “Sorry for the delay.” I actually don’t remember the last time I was actually sorry.
Now, ever since Beyoncé released her visual album LEMONADE, there have been endless thinkpieces on its importance whether it’s for black women, women of color, or women in general. The album and its visual companion are works of art, and this is coming from a non-Beyoncé fan. Not only is it sonically satisfying to listen to but it feels like this is the first time I actually believe Beyoncé and whatever it is she is trying to sell. But I’m not here to talk about LEMONADE as a whole; I’m not qualified to go that in-depth about it. I do want to talk about one song in particular. That song is “Sorry.”
In the visual album, “Sorry” sits pretty in the chapter entitled Apathy, probably the most relatable chapter in the entire music video extravaganza. Beyoncé is no stranger to crafting an anthem for women empowerment. She gave us “Independent Women” and “Survivor” with Destiny’s Child and “Single Ladies” and “Flawless” in her solo endeavors. But those felt calculated; meticulously manufactured and marketed to those club-going women who were trying to convince themselves they didn’t need a man. With “Sorry,” this Beyoncé doesn’t need a man to put a ring on it; she wants all men to go away. This Beyoncé isn’t putting everything you own in a box to the left; she’s setting it on fire and then throwing it in your face. The absolute best thing is that even though this song is called “Sorry,” the most crucial part is left out of the track’s title. Beyoncé isn’t sorry, not even a little bit.
After years of being taught to simply apologize for existing (re: Rowan Blanchard’s excellent piece about it on Rookie), we as women are finally starting to realize that there is nothing to be sorry for. Whether that’s our accomplishments or even for our failures, the word “sorry” should be reserved for something truly substantial. Enter Justin Bieber.
Last year, Bieber came back with a force and that force was “Sorry” aka the second best song of 2015 (the first being Carly Rae Jepsen‘s massive tune “Run Away With Me” duh). “Sorry” is an ultimate banger, of course, but it’s the subject of the song that is the most intriguing.
Oh, is it too late now to say sorry?
Yeah I know that I let you down
Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?
The moment I heard Beyoncé’s “Sorry,” I couldn’t help think of the juxtaposition of it next to Bieber’s “Sorry.” I almost weirdly felt that they were speaking to one another: Bieber apologizing for his shortcomings and Beyoncé not apologizing for being a human being. Are the tables finally turning? Are women starting to fully realize their boss status and are men starting to become aware of the giant assholes they are?
Whether it’s the apathy of Beyoncé’s “Sorry” or the final submission of Bieber’s “Sorry,” both are a step in the right direction. I’ll gladly stick my middle finger up as I twerk my way through both tunes and I won’t be apologizing for either one of them.