This Beyoncé Album Was Inspired by a Broadway Musical, Adele, and Prince

Beyoncé isn’t one of the many celebrities who’s played a role on Broadway, however, she drew inspiration from Broadway performers for one of her albums. In addition, the album was inspired by Adele, Prince, The Jackson 5, Lionel Richie, and Florence + the Machine. Here’s a look at how the LP sold.

Beyoncé looking over her shoulder
Beyoncé | James Devaney/WireImage

How a Broadway musical inspired Queen B

Beyoncé has released some highly acclaimed albums over the years like Lemonade and her self-titled record. Rolling Stone considers both of those albums to be among the greatest LPs ever. In addition, Queen B released albums like B’Day and Dangerously in Love which might not be quite as acclaimed as Lemonade, but which feature some major pop hits. In addition, she released an LP that was relatively unpopular but which drew from an extremely wide array of artists: 4.

One of the influences on 4 was Fela Kuti. Kuti was a pioneer of the Afrobeat genre who inspired a Broadway musical called Fela! Like Alexander Hamilton or Evita Peron, some people are most familiar with Kuti through a Broadway musical. “I recorded more than 60 songs: everything I ever wanted to try, I just did it,” Beyoncé told Billboard. “I started off being inspired by Fela Kuti. I actually worked with the band from Fela! for a couple of days, just to get the feel for the soul and heart of his music; it’s so sexy, and has a great groove you get lost in. I loved his drums, all the horns, how everything was on the one. What I learned most from Fela was artistic freedom: he just felt the spirit.”


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Adele, Prince, The Jackson 5 and the many other artists who inspired Beyoncé

Many artists besides Kuti inspired 4 as well. “I also found a lot of inspiration in ’90s R&B, Earth, Wind & Fire, DeBarge, Lionel Richie, Teena Marie,” Beyoncé added. “I listened to a lot of Jackson 5 and New Edition, but also Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Prince. Add in my hip-hop influences, and you can hear how broad it is.”

Did Adele beat Beyoncé on the charts?

Beyoncé clearly drew from a lot of influences while creating 4. That didn’t mean it had a broad appeal to the public. The highest-charting single from 4 was “Beat Thing I Never Had,” a thumping piano ballad. The track reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Considering Beyoncé released seven No. 1 hits on the chart, “Best Thing I Never Had” is not one of her most popular songs.

“Best Thing I Never Had”

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The song’s parent album performed better. 4 reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, 4 sold less in its first week than any of Beyoncé’s previous solo albums. Despite this, 4 had the third biggest-sales week of 2011 up to that point. The two albums which performed better than 4 were Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Adele’s 21.