When I saw Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” on HBO On Demand, I decided to watch it out of sheer boredom. I had yet to see the millions of tweets, or the countless biased articles consisting of little more than “YAS QUEEN B SLAY”. If I had, I probably would have written off the visual album as nothing more than another Beyoncé cult favorite. But then I looked.
“Lemonade”, audio only, is substantial. It’s eye-catching. It’s Beyoncé and then some. Anthems like “Hold Up” and “Sorry” stole the show on the album alongside powerful duets like “6 Inches” feat. The Weeknd and the incredible “Freedom”, a call for attention to the feat of the Black Lives Matter movement. Kendrick Lamar.
If I had heard the album before seeing her visual album, it wouldn’t have been anything special to me. HBO’s “Lemonade” special turned out to be 58 minutes of pure artistic intelligence, combined with powerful interludes that let viewers know exactly what Beyoncé was trying to say.
At this point, it’s no secret that Jay Z is said to have cheated on Beyoncé. I say allegedly based on the fact that no media could prove it. We know all too well after “Lemonade” that Jay has been in the doghouse for some time. Lyrics like “You know I give you life. If you try this shit again, you’re going to lose your wife,” make that connection more than guessable. It gets even more powerful in the visual element, when, during the line, Beyoncé throws her wedding ring on camera.Eight of the 12 pieces are obviously linked to the cheating saga, ranging from denial and anger, to forgiveness and reform.
The content was there. The album was an ideal story. From songs calling out a cheater in Beyoncé’s most brutal and brutal way to the end on a note of family and forgiveness, it was the perfect loop. There is no better album I can think of to introduce this concept of visual albums to the world of music.
The nearly hour-long collection seen as a series of musical clips linked by dialogue. The scene spanned from parking garages and buses to mansions, eventually landing in fields of houses and oceans. The lighting and irregular movements of the American Horror Story create a natural suspense. Even in scenes that weren’t embellished with this artistic terror, black and white filters covered the scene. Set in what is supposed to be Louisiana for a part, Spanish moss trees adorn every view, which in a black-and-white filter is inherently spooky. Throughout each interlude there is a sense of suspense and ominous drama. This is what makes the visual album so enveloping.
But all is not gloomy. While some of the scenes are downright demonic, there are plenty of moments of fun and empowerment. In fact, that’s what I remembered the most from the physical album. It’s one thing to write breakup songs. It’s another to blow up your current husband for the majority of an hour-long special on HBO. What Beyoncé did here was never done. Blatant accusations in the concept of this film; it is something brutal. It’s something honest. And it’s amazing captivating.
In fact, immediately after watching “Lemonade” I hit “start over” and watched it again. The artistic vision added an element to this album that I didn’t know was necessary. I probably would have given the album 3.5 out of 5 stars. With that visual element, it’s definitely 5 out of 5.
Beyoncé has set a ridiculously high standard for the future of the music industry. It is a standard that I hope is truly met. Music videos are a great addition to an artist’s work. But linking an entire album through an ongoing story gave me incredible admiration not only for Beyoncé and the music she created this time around, but also for her artistic vision and validity as an artistic spirit. .
Now that’s not something that can be done with every album. Beyoncé had a story. She knew in the arrangement of her album that it would play out in a way that the interludes could connect. Even so, there were moments in “Lemonade” that didn’t seem to fit perfectly.
In this album, Beyoncé addressed not only the emancipation of women, but also the Black Lives Matter movement, a heavy topic that is starting to make waves in the music industry. As you can imagine, the idea of a cheating husband and the idea of racial equality don’t exactly go hand in hand. Beyoncé did this job by giving each subject its own, equally powerful performance, and letting the rest fall into place. Too much pressure to connect the dots would have led to disaster and a play that did neither justice.
If I have one complaint, it is that the dialogue did not carry the visual film to the album. I think that would have made the album even more powerful and would have taken it from its classification of pop to some kind of artistic collection. It would have created a stronger and more abstract room. Still, Beyoncé did something that I really commend her for with this visual album. I hope to see it become a standard in the music industry, when the album is suitable. It’s the perfect way for listeners to not only hear and feel what an artist sees, but see exactly what each song means to the artist they admire.