- Beyonc: A child of nature, with serious bling.
Even before playing a pseudo-Diana Ross in the film Dreamgirls, the music press had pegged Beyoncé as Diana's second coming.
Their respective career paths eerily mirror each other. Both rose to fame in female trios: Ross in the Supremes, Beyoncé in Destiny's Child. After going solo to great acclaim, both made stunning transitions to the big screen, portraying singers from earlier eras: Ross as Billie Holiday in 1972's Lady Sings the Blues, Beyoncé as the Diana-substitute Deena Jones.
Most important, both ladies demonstrated a firm grasp of divahood: jealousy, vanity, and lawsuits from disgruntled co-workers. When rumors began to swirl that Beyoncé envied Jennifer Hudson, her show-stealing co-star in Dreamgirls, it seemed like déjà vu all over again. The movie is based on the book of the same name, a tell-all trashing of Diana authored by ex-Supreme Mary Wilson.
But let's get real: Beyoncé is not yet ready to inherit the mantle of one of pop music's great divas.
Here's a five point to-do list of what Beyoncé still has to accomplish, if she has any hope of living up to Miss Ross' legacy. As Diana herself once sang, "Love don't come easy." Neither does genuine divahood, Beyoncé.
1. Choose a nickname reflecting icy reserve and a disdain for the little people.
Going from Beyoncé Knowles to just Beyoncé was a step in the right direction. Calling her current tour The Beyoncé Experience is even better. It suggests a budding megalomania.
But there's still work to be done. "Beyoncé" doesn't sum up a worldview like "Miss Ross," which is supposedly how Diana demanded to be addressed by mere commoners.
2. Develop a curious mother-son relationship with a former child pop star, who will be inspired to spend millions of dollars on plastic surgery in an attempt to recreate your face -- an effort that will leave him, in essence, without a nose.
It's not that Beyoncé can't command this level of twisted admiration. It's just hard figuring out who the lucky kid might be. Remember, Diana Ross was almost 15 years Michael Jackson's senior when she began mentoring him in the '70s. That would make Beyoncé's protégé, at this point, around 12 years old.
A new front-runner could always emerge, but we're going out on a limb with a prediction anyway. Take a good look at 14-year-old Nick, the youngest of the three Jonas Brothers. Now imagine what this current teen heartthrob and Disney Channel fave will look like after a seemingly infinite number of operations to approximate Beyoncé's visage. On second thought, don't.
3. Have a "love child" with the head of your label.
Beyoncé was tantalizingly close to emulating Ross' 1960s and '70s relationship with Motown impresario Berry Gordy. All she had to do was stick with Jay-Z, demand a label trade from her current home at Columbia to his empire at Island/Def Jam, and, of course, sire a baby -- someone like Rhonda Ross Kendrick, who wouldn't find out who her true dad was until years later.
4. Carefully weed out your fan base by releasing several increasingly schlocky albums -- including at least one disc of standards -- that ignore current trends in the U.S., but inexplicably find an audience in the U.K.
If we generously date the beginning of Miss Ross' decline to 1989's Workin' Overtime, we learn that she is approaching a dubious distinction: Barring a miraculous comeback in the near future, she will have been mediocre for more years than she was extraordinary. At least her latest, 2007's thoroughly bland collection of standards titled I Love You, did better at home than abroad. But it offers no evidence that her decline is slowing down.
For Beyoncé, this is a long-term project, but she can start with her next album -- which should trade hot beats for soothing strings, guest rappers for guest oboists, and "Crazy in Love" for one more cover of Patsy Cline's indestructible "Crazy."
And does anyone know if what's left of Rod Stewart is free for another run through the Great American Snoozebook?
5. Plan a "Beyoncé and Destiny's Child" reunion tour that will be scrapped when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams discover you're making five to ten times their payout. Continue the tour with a couple of fill-ins. Then cancel it after a few dates.
The big kink in this scenario is that Beyoncé appears to get along with her bandmates -- the current ones, anyway. The final incarnation of the group hasn't even officially split up.
But a tour like this would stir up the requisite bad blood. Just imagine how easily it could end up like the aborted "Diana Ross and the Supremes" reunion of 2000, when the real Supremes refused to participate because they were offered millions less than Miss Ross, who then insisted the tour was being scrapped even as its promoters claimed the shows would go on.
As a bonus, the scabs replacing Rowland and Williams could be culled from former members of Destiny's Child who have sued Beyoncé or Mathew Knowles, her music-exec father. Pick two of three: LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett, and Farrah Franklin. Now that's a twist worthy of the Weekly World News -- and of a genuine diva.