Behind the Song Lyrics: Beyoncé’s 2011 Anthem “Run the World (Girls)”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Girls, we run this mutha, chants Beyoncé several times opening one of the fiercest female anthems of the 2010s. “Run the World (Girls),” released in 2011, off Beyoncé’s fourth album, 4, documents female strength and empowerment in everything—motherhood, business, art, relationships, and then some.

My persuasion 
Can build a nation
Endless power
With our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me

The Writing Team

Written by Beyoncé, along with Terius “The-Dream” Nash, Nick van de Wall, Dave Taylor, Adidja Palmer, and Thomas Wesley Pentz, and produced by Bey, Switch, The-Dream, and Taylor, the song features the marching drum beat sampled off dancehall duo Major Lazer’s 2009 track “Pon de Floor.”

“There’s nothing safe about it, I know that much,” said The-Dream, who also co-wrote Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” “That [kind of song treatment] would never happen with any other artist of her stature, male or female.”

A New Beyoncé Sound

A new direction for Beyoncé, the song evolved into a futuristic fusion of electro-pop and R&B. “It’s definitely riskier than something a bit more simple,” said Beyoncé in a 2011 interview. “I just heard the track and loved that it was so different. It felt a bit African, a bit electronic, and futuristic. It reminded me of what I love, which is mixing different cultures and eras—things that typically don’t go together—to create a new sound.”

Mad Max Meets Vogue

Directed by Francis Lawrence—who already worked with Bey in the Destiny’s Child days for videos “Independent Women Part 1” in 2000 and “Emotion” in 2001, in addition to directing videos with Jennifer Lopez (“Jenny from the Block,” “Play”), Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and more—the ‘Run the World” video was filmed in Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert over three days and features more than 200 dancers, exotic animals, and Beyoncé as Queen.

In the video, Beyoncé goes from Mad Max to glam in evening dresses with her army women to reiterating the message that women can do, and be, it all.

This goes out to all the women getting it in, you on your grind
To all the men that respect what I do, please accept my shine
Boy, you know you love it
How we smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children (children)
Then get back to business
See, you better not play me (me)
Oh, come here, baby
Hope you still like me
F you, pay me

Legacy of “Girls”

To date, “Run the World (Girls)” continues to pop up everywhere, from film and television and a popular staple on most club mixes.

“I can never be safe,” said Beyoncé of her “Girls” hit. “I always try and go against the grain. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am.

Who run the world? Girls (girls)
Who run this mutha? Girls

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