Shake, rattle and roll

Shake, rattle and roll

Summer Sonic, handbags - and an earthquake - keep Beyonce and her sister Solange busy


Originally published on on September 2009

Photo by Jun Sato

Photo by Jun Sato

American singer Beyoncé Knowles is having a busy few months. In between traveling the globe on her “I Am…” tour, the 28-year-old star and her 23-year-old sister Solange made a whirlwind visit to Tokyo. She appeared at the Summer Sonic 2009 rock festival in Chiba and Osaka and at promotional events for Japanese luxury handbag designer Samantha Thavasa.

Then there were two new movies to plug—Cadillac Records, in cinemas now, and Obsessed, which will be released on DVD here on October 7. Beyoncé can also currently be seen bouncing about in a Japanese TV and poster ad campaign for Crystal Geyser bottled water. And to top everything off, the sisters even got to experience their first earthquake while in Tokyo.

In spite of everything, Beyoncé said she and Solange had a very laidback time in Japan. “Actually, we had slumber parties every night—me, my sister and her son. We’ve all been sleeping in the same bed, waking up, watching cartoons that we wish we could understand. We’ve been going crazy over anime and sumo videos. It’s been a really beautiful experience this trip.” That is, until the earthquake struck early in the morning. The word quickly got out on Twitter that Solange had slept through it. “My sister said she was scared out of her mind and calling my mom and I was snoring,” Solange wrote. “How did I sleep through a SERIOUS earthquake?”

After that, it was back to business. Beyoncé, who has been the face of Samantha Thavasa for a few years, dutifully praised the new collection that’s been made in collaboration with Disney. “I like that the bags have a cool rock ’n’ roll vibe to them with their metallic and studded exterior, and a cute design with Mickey Mouse and ribbon motifs,” she gushed. “They are so kawaii.”

Turning to movies, Beyoncé said she was proud of her film Cadillac Records, in which she portrays legendary American jazz singer Etta James. Yet the relationship between the two singers has been a rocky one. When she got the role last year, Beyoncé said she was honored to be able to play James. The 71-year-old warbler responded in kind, saying, “It’s a privilege and an honor to have somebody like that girl. I don’t think she looks like me, but they can fix that up.”

That was all well and good, but after Beyoncé performed James’ famous song “At Last” at an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama in January, the septuagenarian singer announced that she was “gonna whup” her. “She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol’ president day, gonna be singing my song that I’ve been singing forever,” James said in an outburst that has become fodder for bloggers ever since.

Putting all that behind her, Beyoncé said she is looking forward to returning to Japan in October for five concerts as part of her world tour. She gave fans a taste of what to expect by appearing on TV Asahi’s Music Station program and singing her new ballad, “If I Were a Boy.”

Incidentally, the Knowles sisters weren’t the only American celebrities to shake, rattle and roll during the August 11 earthquake. Singer-actress Jessica Simpson, 29, was in the country that day to film her new reality TV show The Price of Beauty. She wrote on her Twitter page: “Thought I was hallucinating. I have never felt anything like this in my life. Laying in bed watching CNN.”

Where would we be without Twitter?

Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (