The 2019 Billboard Music Awards opened with an explosion of fuchsia, courtesy of Taylor Swift. A marching band decked out in pink attire marched through the aisles as the pop star sang her new song “ME!”
It was a visual feast for the eyes.
Her army of dancers clad in their pastel finest twerked, and Panic! at the Disco‘s Brendon Urie descended from the rafters taking a cue from Mary Poppins to join in the confetti-blasting, pyro-popping extravaganza.
— ITS BRITT💋 (@captnbrincrunch) May 2, 2019
The number dazzled, and it was difficult to resist the number’s infectious charisma.
However, there was major drama involving Beyoncé, and she wasn’t even there that night!
Basically, Beyoncé fans took issue with Swift’s introduction, down to the whistle-blowing that cued the marching band’s entrance.
See for yourself.
The Bey camp accused Swift of ripping off Beyoncé’s infamous Coachella performance that featured a marching band similar to the BBMA’s opening number of “ME!”
Not only did the drum line introduce the lady of the hour, but the singer also strutted out and sat into her left hip in a manner that was all too evocative of Beyoncé’s owning the stage.
Former PVAMU band members join Beyonce's Coachella performance https://t.co/FoQNKWKwrQ
— PVAMU Marching Storm (@PVAMUStorm) April 15, 2018
Beyoncé fans are livid over Swift’s alleged carbon copy entrance.
TAYLOR SWIFT JUST BIT TF OUTTA BEYONCE ON THE BILLBOARD AWARDS … I’m 💀😭😭😭💀💀💀💀 where is the beyhive???? pic.twitter.com/hWvRcKK4an
— Jamilah Michelle (@jamilahmichelle) May 2, 2019
I don’t know if y’all are seeing this but Taylor Swift is gentrifying Beyonce’s Coachella performance right now
— Guide Lee (@Chuck_Des) May 2, 2019
But Swift’s squad countered by reminding the opposition that their girl used a drumline in a performance ten years ago.
— Joshua Boardman (@jpxxraggles) May 2, 2019
The accusation of gentrification got redefined.
gentrifying: the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste: Say what now???????????
— Dfhappy (@dfhappy) May 2, 2019
Lmao gentrifying? This isn’t housing or urban planning. Plus, it means renovating and repairing, so u just meant Taylor fixed Bey’s Coachella performance?
— VICKYFAME #ChelDiokno25 (@VickyFame) May 2, 2019
"Gentrifying" implies it was a ghetto before. Are you implying Beyonce needed to be "cleaned up"?
— Nyold (@Nyold) May 2, 2019
Because Beyonce invented marching bands right ….🤦🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/FSRdkcJq2N
— R._* (@L_Shalott) May 2, 2019
fyi, Beyonce did not "invent" or do "first" every performance routine that you have seen.
— Moe Kuk (@KukMoe) May 2, 2019
Others conveyed that incorporating marching bands into an act is not exclusive to any one artist.
So Beyoncé invented marching bands? 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
— S T A R M A N ✨ (@StarmaNrvz) May 2, 2019
Gwen Stefani had a marching band back in 2009. https://t.co/JvnxIg9s1f
— david gutierrez (@davgutie) May 2, 2019
And Destinys child had a marching band in 1999….
— nika_pooh_ (@nikapooh7) May 2, 2019
Madonna had a marching band at her Super Bowl Half Time Show 2012 pic.twitter.com/ytUwD5251M
— Tyler M (@M212Tyler) May 2, 2019
There are fools whose entire lives revolve around what Beyonce and Taylor Swift are doing, and yet I'm the one with depression.
That's some bullshit.
— Justice Wainwright (@JusticeBlaine) May 3, 2019
Girl, it’s drums… Beyoncé wasn’t the first to use drums in a performance and Taylor definitely isn’t either. Beyoncé had a whole as band and Taylor had just drums. Y’all need to stop comparing the most general things just because you don’t like Taylor. https://t.co/ORySBD7tQf
— t⭐️ (@reputytion) May 2, 2019
The explosive debate was settled once and for all with a reminder that Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 performance of “Tusk” employed the USC marching band.
At the request of @fleetwoodmac the USC Trojan Marching band performed "Tusk" in 1979, which predates @Beyonce & @taylorswift13 by FOUR DECADES. The USC part set a record for the highest number of musicians performing on a single. #beyhive #swiftieshttps://t.co/t15kO2U0II
— Katy Mae Bossart (@papillon13_) May 2, 2019
Seems to me that Beyoncé ripped it off from Fleetwood Mac. They used USC band. Look it up!
— Irish FF (@ff_irish) May 2, 2019
1979 Fleetwood Mac says hey there.
— C.A. Petrov says #SaveODAAT! (@FullMetaDuchess) May 2, 2019
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) May 2, 2019
With so many trailblazers, it’s always a challenge to avoid being derivative.
This year, Drake made history by sweeping the BBMA with an unprecedented 12 awards for a single artist.
His acceptance speech was particularly poignant and relevant to the drumline debate as the rapper honored the legacy of late musicians.
The Top Male Artist winner noted the “unfortunate series of losses” in the industry and encouraged his peers to support each other.
“I just want to encourage everybody to let other artists know how you feel about them. Let them know that you love them (and) respect them while we’re all still here.”
Although Queen Bey and Swift — both unstoppable forces within the industry — didn’t directly lock horns, Drake’s speech is a good reminder for all artists to continue entertaining fans harmoniously.
Besides, the two are far from adversarial. Beyoncé attended one of Swift’s birthday parties in the past, and let’s not forget that she invited Swift back up on stage to redeliver her VMA acceptance speech after Kanye West rudely hijacked her moment in 2009.
Also, remember when they shared a performing moment together?
tb to when Beyonce let Taylor Swift sing with her at the VMA'S pic.twitter.com/knDS2jLC7a
— ken ❿ (@Slhut) August 26, 2016
In other news, former band geeks like yours truly are rejoicing over their newfound in-demand status.