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BeyDay 2015: A celebration of ‘Crazy in Love’ on Beyoncé’s birthday

Beyoncé performs at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in 2015. Friday is her birthday.

Beyoncé performs at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in 2015. Friday is her birthday.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

What’s a BeyDay without her best song?

On Beyoncé’s birthday, it might be of service to take four minutes out of your pre-Labor Day planning to celebrate “Crazy in Love.” The essential post-Destiny’s Child track, which came out in 2003, not only cemented Our Birthday Girl as a Queen of Pop, but a dozen years later, the song still sounds crucial. Without Beyoncé, born in 1981, the sound of the 21st century would be missing a key blast of brass, absent a singular love eruption of era-defining proportions and lost without a top Jay Z verse.

Let us take a moment to bow before its majesty and celebrate its creation.

Produced by Rich Harrison, “Crazy in Love” turns on that brass, and coupled with a polyrhythmic beat, it pops like dynamite. Those horns and percussion are sampled from a 1970 track called “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)” by the Chicago soul group the Chi-Lites. The snippet, coupled with the beat, moves with a curiously propulsive energy.

Harrison recalled creating the rhythm track to MTV in 2004: “I remember when I first did the beat,” he said. “I played it for a lot of my buddies, as I normally do, and they couldn’t dig it. But that’s when I knew I had something special.”

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Even so, the artist held on to it until the right opportunity presented itself. “I had it in the chamber,” he told MTV. “I hadn’t really shopped it much, because sometimes you don’t want to come out of the bag before it’s right. People don’t really get it and you’ll leave them with a foul taste in their mouth. So it was just something that I held on to until I got the call from B.”

The track ended up winning Grammys for best R&B song and best rap/song collaboration. It also furthered the romance between Beyoncé and Jay Z. Years later, it’s hard to hear the song and not imagine Beyoncé directing the chorus toward her future husband.

Since it came out, “Crazy in Love” has become a classic of the genre. Diehards may quibble with the “Beyoncé’s best song” description above. To each her own. But some of us think you're crazy.

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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