Beyoncé: Why This Major Songwriter Wouldn’t Look at Her Directly

Beyoncé has inspired a lot of different reactions — and one of the songwriters who worked with her felt he couldn’t look at her directly. During an interview, he opened up about his feelings toward her as a person and as a musician. Here’s what happened when Beyoncé worked with him — and whether the collaboration was successful on the pop charts.

Beyoncé | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Why Beyoncé almost never recorded a song that became one of her lead singles

According to Entertainment Weekly, it all started with an unusual request: showbusiness manager Jay Brown asked songwriting duo Stargate to write a song with both hip-hop beats and an acoustic guitar. The members of Stargate —  Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen — wrote a song like that called “Irreplaceable” but were unsure what to do with it because it was unconventional. Beyoncé wanted to record the track but it was initially left off of her album B’Day because it didn’t fit the mood of the album. Ultimately, Queen B’s label thought it should become the lead single from her album B’Day.

What Stargate thought of Beyoncé

Eriksen recalled what it was like to work with Beyoncé. “We recorded with her and hung out with her in the studio a few times. She’s the best in the game, hands down. She takes her shoes off and lays on the couch and is very hands-on when it comes to her own vocals.”


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Hermansen had a much stronger reaction to working with Beyoncé. “She’s also so beautiful that you can’t really look straight at her,” he said. “You have to look to the left of her or something so you don’t get distracted.”

In addition, Hermansen said what he thought of Beyoncé as a person and as an artist. “She’s just magnetic and, really, the most humble,” he revealed. “There’s never any drama. She always finishes her stuff. A lot of people like to throw ideas down and finish it later. I think because she’s so busy, she always finishes stuff on the spot — singing the last chorus, doing the last ad-lib, throwing in the extra harmonies. She never leaves anything half-finished.”

How the public reacted to ‘Irreplaceable’ and where Stargate’s careers went from there

Clearly, working with Queen B had a major impact on Hermansen. This raises an interesting question: Did “Irreplaceable” have a major impact on the pop charts? The track reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s “too the left, to the left” hook remains of of the most famous lyrics in Beyoncé’s discography.


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Afterward, Stargate produced a number of songs that combined both hip-hop beats and the acoustic guitar, such as the Rihanna/Ne-Yo duet “Hate That I Love You,” Chris Brown’s “With You” and Jordin Sparks’ “Tattoo.” They would also go on to produce songs which sound very different like Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” or Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Those songs all became hits, however, Hermansen didn’t mention having the same issue working with any other singer.