I have to begin this weeks blog with a disclaimer. I’ve always thought of Beyoncé as overrated. But I am also (somewhat) proud to say that after listening to her ‘Lemonade’ album on repeat for the last few days, I have been converted. Her catchy songs and distinguishable persona make her almost an enigma, someone to be idolised.
Given this, when posing the question ‘Does Beyoncé matter?’, perhaps it shouldn’t be a question of does Beyoncé matter, but rather why Beyoncé matters. For this, I’m going to focus on her 2016 visual album ‘Lemonade‘.
Queen Bey’s 2016 musical offering has been often praised for its approach to tackling some of the biggest issues within society; feminism and race.
Beyoncé has certainly tackled the issue of feminism in her music prior to ‘Lemonade’, but in the 2016 album, her portrayal of feminism becomes more about the female identity and the ways in which women are represented rather than being a feminist in the general sense. On ‘Hold Up’ Beyoncé repeats the lyric “jealous or crazy” before she eventually decides ” More like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately, I’d rather be crazy”. This anger is something that is rarely expressed by women across all walks of life, usually for fear of being labelled as ‘crazy’ or ‘hysterical’. Because of Beyoncé’s position of power in the music industry, her addressing of such an issue in regards to feminism makes her audience stand up and pay attention.
When her addressing of feminist issues is paired with racial themes, ‘Lemonade’ becomes almost targeted to Beyoncé’s black, female audience. The lead single ‘Formation‘ shows Beyoncé’s embracement of her racial identity whilst singing “I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” along with other racially themed lyrics. All of this is an example of Beyoncé using her platform for good, by bringing attention to issues and ideas that matter to society on global scale, starting a much needed conversation.
In a more industrial sense, Beyoncé continually ‘breaks the rules’. ‘Lemonade’ was not her first outing with a ‘surprise’ release, with 2013’s ‘Beyonce’ (again, complete with full accompanying visuals) breaking iTunes records within 3 days.
Following in Beyoncé’s footsteps, other artists such as Rihanna, Drake and Kendrick Lamar have also released albums without any promotion. Whilst ‘Lemonade’ didn’t have the full benefit of ‘surprise’ due to it being announced by HBO a week prior to its airing, it was still ground-breaking for the industry. Beyoncé initially released the album as a ‘Tidal’ exclusive for 24 hours, something which is not generally done by artists. As well as this, she debuted the visual aspect of the album in an hour long broadcast on cable network HBO, bypassing the generic routes of YouTube or MTV.
Ultimately, Beyoncé’s importance to not only the music industry but society as a whole, lies in her choice to unapologetically always be herself and stand up for what she believes in. So in response to my initial question, yes, Beyoncé does matter and we should all take notice.
Catch ya on the flip side,