After dropping the self-titled album Beyonce in December of 2013 without any warning, many imagined it would be difficult for Beyonce to surprise fans in the same way. They were proven wrong on Saturday, April 23, with Lemonade.
Unlike Beyonce, however, Lemonade wasn’t entirely unexpected. With the Super Bowl performance and release of “Formation” in February, fans knew a long-awaited album was just on the horizon. Then, about a week before the album’s debut, Beyonce released a trailer for a Lemonade HBO special which would feature a string of visuals to accompany each song. This methodology of release was similar to the release of Beyonce, which came with already made visuals for most of the songs on the album.
Lemonade can also be compared to Beyonce in that both albums are a reflection of Beyonce’s true self and values. “***Flawless” (a Beyonce track), for example, is a feminist anthem, taking samples from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on feminism. Similarly, Lemonade addresses serious and personal topics, like the feelings that result from infidelity.
The album goes through a series of emotions. It starts with anger and frustration in tracks such as “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White from The White Stripes. “Don’t Hurt Yourself” is different from anything Beyonce has released before. It takes on a Jimi Hendrix vibe, incorporating electric guitar and rock n’ roll drums (thanks in part to Jack White, who also provides background vocals).
The song ends with a chilling warning from Beyonce: “This is your final warning/ You know I give you life/ If you try this…again/ You gon’ lose your wife.” Beyonce continues to address her marriage throughout the entirety of the album, especially in “Sandcastles”.
“Sandcastles” may be the most emotional song on Lemonade. It marks the musical transition of anger to sadness/forgiveness. It discusses the “sandcastles” built through marriage, and the difficult “tides” that wash them away. The song directly hints at the troubles her own marriage has faced, but despite the fact that her husband can’t keep his promise to be faithful, she can’t keep her promise to leave him: “Not every promise works out that way”. The fact that “Sandcastles” only features Beyonce’s vocals and a soft piano makes the song that much more intense and intimate.
The lyrical content of the album sparked outrage among the “Beyhive”, Beyonce’s fanbase. She makes it evident in Lemonade that Jay-Z, her husband of 8 years, most definitely had some kind of an affair. However, the album doesn’t seem vengeful or hateful towards Jay. It almost seems like a mode of closure for the popular artist. The world can only hope that the pair has since reconciled.
As far as the visual aspect of Lemonade, unless you were lucky enough to catch it when it first aired on HBO Saturday, you will have to pay a hefty price to watch it. It’s only available for purchase (with the rest of the album) on iTunes for nearly $20, and the Jay-Z/Beyonce run streaming website Tidal with a $10-$20/month subscription.
All in all, Lemonade is a career-changing album for Beyonce. The emotion is deep and raw, making this female powerhouse a down-to-earth human being with real feelings and experiences.