Many were impressed when Beyoncé thanked fired Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson in her Billboard Music Awards acceptance speech Sunday night when she received the Millennium Award. But her acknowledgments included a major omission: Italian singer, dancer, actress, and television host Lorella Cuccarini, who appears to have inspired Beyoncé's show-stealing performance of her new song "Run The World (Girls)."
In February 2010, Lorella took the stage at the 60th Sanremo Music Festival in Italy and delivered a show before a white screen and digital accompaniments that has drawn undeniable comparisons to Beyoncé's Billboard Music Awards performance.
As Lorella danced, the backdrop was filled with computerized birds, a bouncing ball, a red staff, a set of wings, a series of drums, and an army of choreographed clones, all of which also appeared in Beyoncé's set.
The variations between the scenes in common are minimal. When watching the performances side-by-side, it feels as though Beyoncé's team used Lorella's show as a template and personalized it by merely changing out some of the details. Not only does Beyoncé use some of the same scenes Lorealla used, but they fall in the same sequence.
Beyoncé's set opens with the roaring head of a tiger. Then like Lorealla's, an entry way appears. Next, both ladies receive a set of flapping wings. Beyoncé dances in front of an array of random, abstract images before a sea of birds descend from the top of the frame. As she continues to dance, she is eventually joined by background dancers made in her likeness. She catches a set of virtual drumsticks and plays the snares that materialize onto the projection in the same spiral fashion as in Lorealla's video.
Kenzo Digital, who spent a month creating Beyoncé's interactive video, said Lorealla concert footage is only part of the inspiration for Beyoncé's show. "[The Cuccarini artists] are awesome and do incredible work as well, but there are a lot of different inspirations for where our piece came from," he told our Amplifier blog.
While it is clear that Beyoncé used the same visual concept as Lorella, Kenzo makes a valid point: both performances contain numerous unique qualities.
Lorella's four-minute routine was a tribute of sorts to American pop music that included pieces of Gwen Stefani's "Holla Back Girl," Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," and Peggy Lee's "Fever."
Beyoncé also brought two live male background dancers on stage with her, and followed the electronic set with 100+ live female dancers.
Reaction online has been mixed. "This is why I will always value her as a great performer, but never as an artist," rocknox wrote on YouTube. "Why are you going to perform a sampled song, and sample a performance too?"
But ShortStuff528 came to Beyoncés defense. "Has Beyoncé claimed this performance as her idea? Who's to say it was Beyoncé who sought out the people responsible for the original? Maybe they wanted to work with her. Every artist constantly copies. Michael Jackson copied James Brown, Jackie Wilson, breakdancers, Marcel Marcequ, and many magicians that he witnessed. ... Beyoncé gave credit to Fosse even before 'Single Ladies.'"
Still, Beyoncé owed Lorella a mention during her speech. For Beyoncé's "Run The World (Girls)" video, she pays respect to the Tofo Tofo dancers from Mozambique who inspired the opening dance sequence by featuring two of the
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