Nothing gets a newsroom going quite like a new Beyoncé release. Here are our initial thoughts, musings, outbursts and epiphanies about the phenomenal project that is Lemonade.
Delivering what it promised
The seeming exclusivity of Lemonade’s release — TIDAL is its only streaming service (for now) and the accompanying visual component debuted through HBO — does not reflect its premise or purpose. “Formation” promised powerful #blackgirlmagic and Lemonade delivers, with the complex nuances of reality flanked beautifully by the diverse musicality her self-titled album lacked (looking at you “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Daddy Lessons,” “Sandcastles” and “Freedom”).
While critics have already focused on the album’s most obvious plot-line — Beyoncé’s marriage — attempting to dissect this piece with such a narrow lens dulls its poignant exploration of many intersecting themes, namely black womanhood. Lemonade is satisfying, heartbreaking, joyous, indignant, self-assured and unsure in a world intent on erasing and decrying the experiences its creator conveys so honestly. Ultimately, it is a skillfully-curated album, political in its context and often deeply personal — and familiar — for its listeners. — Audrey Piehl, Arts Etc. Staff Writer
The best surprise ever
We’ve gotten to the point where if you don’t release your album in an arena or on HBO as an hour-long movie, your album probably sucks. Beyoncé’s Lemonade most definitely does not suck. In fact, it’s beautiful, it’s moving, it’s heartbreaking, it’s exhilarating and it’s everything you could ask for in a Beyoncé album and more. I wouldn’t even say I’m a die-hard Beyoncé “Stan” or anything close to it. I’ve casually enjoyed her music for the past decade and respected all of her work.
But this record hit me with an impact that none of her previous projects have. I don’t know if it was the stunning visuals that left me speechless or her powerful lyrics that hit me hardest, but it doesn’t really matter. From the joyful, bouncy beat on “Hold Up” to the giant middle finger on “Sorry” to the country flare on “Daddy Lessons” to the powerful southern ballad that is “Freedom,” there is no doubt this is Beyoncé’s most diverse and impressive record she’s ever done. The raw emotion on display throughout each and every song was something we’ve never experienced on any Beyoncé album before, and I’m genuinely surprised it took this long for us to hear that. – Nick Brazzoni, Sports Editor
It’s the thought that counts
Lemonade is a roller coaster of emotions that had me jamming out with one track and then in my feelings during the next. Beyoncé let down her walls and gave the world an album of pure emotion and a story of heartbreak, sadness, redemption and love. The visual film turns the album into an intense experience, adding on to the emotional level that is felt throughout the record. I was surprised to find out that no song was particularly pop-radio worthy besides “Formation,” and some songs did not sound like the Beyoncé we know of at all.
“Daddy Lessons” in particular shocked me the most, with the song’s country undertone and guitar strumming in the background. I think Beyoncé cared more about the meanings of the lyrics versus sticking to the classic pop melodies that dominate radio. Overall, Lemonade is a personal insight into the heartbreak and struggle of a woman the world loves, and these emotions are very relatable to the rest of us. Everyone, even Beyoncé, has life struggles, but by the end of the album she has persevered, just like we all can. — Aidan McClain, ArtsEtc. Staff Writer
The deep end of ‘Jealousy’
Beyoncé dropped her self-titled album two-and-a-half years ago. Amid the songs of sex, partying, empowerment and blissful love stood “Jealous.” The song, dripping with raw emotion, seemed foreign in an album with feel-good tracks like “Drunk in Love” and “XO.”
Beyoncé’s latest album, Lemonade, branches itself off of “Jealous,” taking it to the deepest ends of self-reflection we rarely see from the pop phenomenon. The eclectic production and diverse cameos on the album all come as welcome surprises. However, the true revelation on Lemonade is Beyoncé’s voice. Not voice as in the incredible notes she can hit or haunting bravado we all have come to know, but the voice of her narrative.
Lemonade is a glimpse into the mysterious world of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. It paints Beyoncé as a human, not an untouchable goddess like the world so often does. She struggles through her relationships, her marriage, her insecurities, her jealousy and her life just like her millions of fans do. Lemonade is more personal and more emotionally-complex than Beyoncé’s self-titled LP. It’s beautifully painful, genuine and imperfectly honest. Lemonade stings like citrus in an open wound and tastes sweet at the same time, as listeners follow the story of a real woman living in the real world. — Hunter Reed, ArtsEtc. Staff Writer.
Still not as good as ‘Work,’ or TLOP
After “Formation” dropped, I was expecting Beyoncé to come out and drop a To Pimp A Butterfly-esque statement album. Surely enough, Bey is Bey, and of course doesn’t do the expected with a more personal, relationship-focused route (aside from the K Dot-assisted “Freedom”). For me, the best part about this album is how easy it is to connect to emotionally; she makes you feel like your relationship is somehow comparable to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s (as if). Hell, for all we know, they’re not even having problems and this is just another genius marketing scheme. Now I’m even more confused. Either way, even as someone who’s never really been on the Bey train, Lemonade is loaded with killer tracks, and “Hold Up” will be heard on speakers all summer long (including mine).
(In my opinion, still not as good as “Work” or anything from The Life of Pablo, though.) — Kevin Castro, Social Media Coordinator
‘The sickest combination of humans I could have ever dreamed up’
They told me to write a 150 word reaction to Lemonade, so I’m going to take these 150 words to mainly react to “Don’t Hurt Yourself” for two reasons — one, because I don’t think anyone else really will and two, I’m sorry, JACK WHITE?!?!? That’s the sickest combination of humans I could have ever dreamed up. Raise your hand if you expected these two to collaborate … that’s what I thought.
On the whole album, Bey beautifully experiments with various genres of music atypical to her usual sound. And shit, it’s awesome. On “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” the edgy rock ‘n’ roll vibes and haunting chorus, staples of White’s sound, are simply incredible when paired with Bey’s vocals and pissed off lyrics (looking at you, Jay Z). “Who the fuck do you think I am? … Tonight I’m fucking up all your shit, boy.” Hell. Yes.
Shout out to the whole album, though; for real, this is some amazing shit. — Amy Sleep, Copy Chief
Powerful, yet vulnerable
Lemonade takes the listener on a journey through sadness, accusations, confidence, loyalty and finally forgiveness through Beyonce’s otherwise unapologetic lyrics. Lines like “you ain’t married to no average bitch boy/ you can watch my fat ass twist boy/ as I bounce to the next dick boy” perfectly encompass who Beyonce is while simultaneously calling out Jay-Z’s unfaithfulness.
‘Yoncé handles the affair like a bad bitch but still manages to show some vulnerability. “Hold Up” features lyrics such as “what’s worse, lookin’ jealous or crazy?” and “know that I kept it sexy, and know I kept it fun” touch on the pressure women feel in a relationship. This album is certainly enjoyable for everyone, but is tailor made for those going through a breakup or who need a supplement to their own personal healing process. — Tia Hagenbucher, ArtsEtc. Staff Writer
Beyonce killed me
“So what are you going to say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me?”
But really Bey, what are you going to say at my funeral —because you just killed me.
All jokes and exaggerations aside, Beyoncé truly is one of the most beautiful, talented and empowering entertainers in the industry today. We paint this goddess-like image of her and dub her queen, but this album deconstructs this persona and reminds us of something we ignore through these constant embellishments. She is first and foremost, a regular woman — just like any of us. And just like any of us, even she has encountered the pain of love and infidelity.
Lemonade offers listeners (and viewers of the video album) a slightly more vulnerable image of Beyoncé. It allows the listener to immediately connect to the music as they too can picture themselves as “the other woman,” or have found themselves asking if they’d rather “be jealous or crazy.”
In terms of musicality, there is no question that Lemonade delivered. From the rock-powered anthem, “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White to the country-esque “Daddy Lessons,” Bey proves track after track that she is capable of tackling any genre.
While it’s clear that she created the album as a soundtrack for all women, the socio-politically charged work of art especially focuses on the experience of being a black woman in America. When life gave Beyoncé her hardships, she revolutionized the way an artist presents their music and connects with their fans. — Alice Vagun, Associate Copy Chief