Beyonce’s fans, collectively referred to as the “Beyhive” are notoriously protective of their Queen Bey, so it’s probably no surprise that within minutes of Taylor Swift’s Billboard Music Awards performance of her new track, “ME!” the hive was already riled up on Twitter and ready to sting. Taylor performance, which included a marching band, had other stylistic flourishes such as lighting cues that have some Beyonce fans drawing comparisons to Beyonce’s new Netflix special Homecoming and crying foul.
Homecoming, of course, documented the creation and performance of Beyonce’s appearance at Coachella in 2018, dubbed “Beychella” by fans, which referenced culture and heritage of historically Black colleges and universities. Some of the touches included sorority jackets and a marching band, two items closely tied in fans’ minds to HBCU culture. So when Taylor appeared on stage with a marching band of her own, just weeks after Homecoming debuted on Netflix — with its live album component appearing at the same time on music streaming services — some fans think the timing is a little more than coincidental.
While Taylor has her defenders, who rightly pointed out Taylor’s appearance as a marching band major in her 2009 video for “You Belong With Me” (which ironically beat out Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video for Video Of The Year at that year’s MTV VMAs, prompting the infamous Kanye West outburst that set all three artists on their current career trajectories), others have decried the performance as an attempt by Taylor to ride the wave of positive goodwill following Homecoming to promote her upcoming new music. Still others have noted that Beyonce was far from the first performer to make use of a marching band in a live performance, with Madonna, Prince, and Shania Twain’s names all being thrown in the mix.
Whether or not Taylor intended to pay homage or hijack Beyonce’s buzz, she’s joined the growing list of white, female pop stars accused of using Black culture to their own ends which includes Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and more. Check out more fan responses below.