This week saw the release of the first major, large-scale biography on one of pop music’s biggest and most guarded stars: Beyoncé. The product of hundreds of hours of interviews from dozens of sources, J. Randy Taraborrelli’s Becoming Beyoncé aims to be the definitive chronicle on the creation of an icon. It also suggests that virtually everything Beyoncé has told the public checks out. You won’t find any credence given to pregnancy conspiracy theories or Illuminati affiliations. Beyoncé is portrayed as someone who was deeply secretive from the time she was a child (as one of her elementary school classmates attests), and a shrewd business woman who severs ties not out of vindictiveness but for the sake of her career.
It’s a long way from Taraborrelli’s iconic 1989 Diana Ross biography, Call Her Miss Ross, the kind of mass-market paperback for which the word “juicy” was invented. The Village Voice referred to that book as a “marathon bitchfest”; Becoming Beyoncé isn’t even a field event in bitchiness. (The oddest moment occurs when teenage Bey moons teenage Usher at Beyoncé’s childhood home before he insists that she and her friends watch The Crying Game.)\