What does it mean?
The lyrics in Beyoncé’s song “Irreplaceable” include “To the left, to the left: everything you own in a box to the left.” The song and accompanying music video are about a woman kicking her cheating boyfriend out of her house. She’s informing her ex-boyfriend that all of his possessions have been put in a cardboard box that is “to the left.”
Read on to learn more about the singer’s 2006 number 1 hit.
Singer Ne-Yo wrote the track “Irreplaceable.”
He wrote the song in the style of country music, having country singers Shania Twain and Faith Hill in mind while thinking up the song. However, after incorporating drums onto the track, he felt the song could work better with an R&B vibe.
The song was initially written from a male perspective, but it was felt that a female vocalist would fit the song better and Ne-Yo believed the song would send a powerful message of female empowerment when sung from a woman’s perspective.
The track was almost not included on Beyoncé’s upcoming album B’Day, since the theme of the album was intended to be “a hard-hitting club album.” However, artist Swizz Beatz, who was working with Beyoncé on the album, told her she would be crazy to not include it.
Talking to MTV about the song, Ne-Yo said, “Beyoncé had some stuff that she wanted to get off her chest.” He went on to explain that she aimed to create a song that women could relate to.
Jason Goldstein, who mixed the song at Sony Music Studios, commented, “This song was really simple to mix. It was produced by Stargate [production team] and the sounds are really good and they all made sense, and there was lots of room for all the instruments.”
Hermansen, of Stargate, recalled that after finishing the song, “everyone felt they had captured something special and that Beyoncé had done the track justice.”
However, he went on to talk about the concerns the team had that urban radio might not give the track air time because it featured acoustic guitars and had more of a pop vibe. “But then it became the biggest urban record […] ever,” he clarified.
Talking to MTV, Ne-Yo let slip some misgivings towards the singer of his song lyrics. “Apparently Beyoncé was at a show somewhere and right before the song came on she said, ‘I wrote this for all my ladies’ and then the song came on,” Ne-Yo shared.
He went on, “The song is a co-write. I wrote the lyrics, I wrote all the lyrics. Beyoncé helped me with the melodies and the harmonies and the vocal arrangement and that makes it a co-write. Meaning my contribution and her contribution made that song what it is.”
It’s not the only time Ne-Yo has shared some thoughts on the song and its singer. In 2011, he told Choice FM, “One song that I gave away and didn’t want to is Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable.” I honestly wrote that song for myself.
Fans of Beyoncé didn’t appreciate his potentially bitter-sounding comments and later he was forced to clarify his remarks on Twitter. He explained, “I said I originally wrote the song for me. … Once I realized how the song comes across if sung by a guy, that’s when I decided to give it away.”
It’s somewhat understandable if Ne-Yo was left feeling just a tad jealous of Beyoncé’s success with his lyrics. “Irreplaceable” became the most successful song on the album B’Day. The single spent ten consecutive weeks at the top spot on the chart.
Listen to the track that became a quintessential noughties song below.