This upbeat dance track features a beat provided by The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, the duo behind Rihanna's "Umbrella
In this song, Beyoncé urges ladies to dump their boyfriends if they don't propose. In an interview with Essence magazine, Beyoncé said when she married Jay-Z in April 2008, she didn't even want an engagement ring, so it can be safely assumed that the Texan singer was performing this song as her feisty alter-ego "Sasha."
This was released as a single together with "If I Were a Boy
." Beyoncé wrote in a letter to her fans around the time of their release, that she was "in a different place right now and I wanted people to see the many sides of me" and indeed the two songs have completely different perspectives.
Both this and "If I Were a Boy" were released with accompanying black-and-white videos directed by Jake Nava, who also did the clips for Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" and "Baby Boy."
In the "Single Ladies" video, which features Beyoncé and two look-a-likes dancing, the Texan singer and her pals are pointing in the direction of their wedding fingers, as they urge ladies to find a man who "should put a ring on it." The dancing was inspired by the legendary choreographer and director Bob Fosse.
The video has become an internet phenomenon with thousands of homemade versions posted on YouTube. Beyoncé explained to The Sunday Times May 10, 2009 that the idea for the promo was a 1960s film of a Bob Fosse routine, Mexican Breakfast, which featured his wife, Gwen Verdon. She recalled; "I saw a video on YouTube. They had a plain background and it was shot on the crane; it was 360 degrees, they could move around. And I said, 'This is genius.' We kept a lot of the Fosse choreography and added the down-south thing - it's called J-setting, where one person does something and the next person follows. So it was a strange mixture, kind of like the song, which is almost like a nursery rhyme, the 'oh-oh-oh's, and the sinister chords. So it's like the most urban choreography, mixed with Fosse - very modern and very vintage. We'd spent all the budget on the video for (the previous single) If I Were a Boy, and with this song, we didn't even have a treatment. So, it's the least expensive video I've done. Not for a moment did I think, 'This is going to be a movement.'"
The lyrics, "Got me tighter in my Deréon jeans" is a plug for House of Deréon, a clothing line from Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles.
During a performance at the BankAtlantic Center in Florida, Beyoncé halted the concert in the middle of this song. She then handed the microphone over to a male fan who announced: "Beyoncé, you told me if I like it, I need to put a ring on it." He then dropped to one knee, produced a ring and asked his stunned girlfriend to marry him, in front of the 20,000+ crowd. His girlfriend, seemingly shocked, nodded yes.
This won the 2009 MTV VMA for Best Video. Earlier in the ceremony the song's loss in the Best Female Video category to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me
" led to controversy during the ceremony. Taylor Swift's award acceptance speech was interrupted by Kanye West who grabbed her microphone and started ranting about this song's music clip being "one of the best videos of all time!" Swift was unable to complete her acceptance speech, however later when Beyoncé was receiving her award for this song's video, she invited the teen singer back onto stage to finish her speech.
Beyoncé reflected on the iconic video to Billboard magazine: "Out of all my videos, 'Single Ladies' was the least expensive and took the least amount of time, and it ended up being the most iconic. But once we got on the set, it was like, wait a minute. This is something special."
Beyoncé triumphed at the 2010 Grammys winning six awards, a new record for the most Grammys won in a single year by a solo female performer. This anthem won three of them: Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
The-Dream told The Boombox
that when writing for women, he likes to tap into their personal stories. "The topics change based on what you're going through in your life," he said. "Hence, Beyoncé was going through marriage for the first time in her life when I wrote 'Single Ladies,' but the blessing is in how I was raised and my principal of it, and how I feel about [marriage]. I wrote a song about a relationship that's starting but sings, 'If you like it then you should've put a ring on it,' meaning a lot. [Meaning] that, 'I'm OK with being this type of girl,' which men want to hear, and women want to say."
Beyoncé was joined by her girls from Destiny's Child - Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams - when she performed a snippet of this song at halftime of the Super Bowl in 2013.