The Greatest Female Artist in Today’s Society

Beyoncé recently released her new album Lemonade, which covers a cornucopia of issues in today’s society. Of course, responses on the album flooded onto social media instantly. Now, I can admit, I’m not a die-hard Beyoncé fan. I don’t know of the latest and greatest things she has been up to, but I do know of the new album, Lemonade. After noticing the hype on Twitter and Instagram, I decided to take a look at Beyoncé’s newest musical creation. I’ve never really understood why fans are so head over heels with today’s most iconic female artist, but now I know. Lemonade portrays the marital issues between Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who were once known as America’s favorite music couple. In addition to the topic of infidelity, Beyoncé brings the ideas of gender roles and race to light.

The album, which includes 12 new songs with an exception to “formation”, covers issues that address infidelity, race, and gender. These songs, which also include a visual album, can be found in the link above. The visual album, which had its own debut on HBO, radiates with creativity, as it exposes modern issues that women experience at least once in their lives. The various themes that Beyoncé portrays in her songs as well as music videos are powerful and influential. “It’s a quick-cutting music video that intersperses the songs, and broadens them, with compelling poetry from the Somali-British writer Warsan Shire, poems that often extend women’s physicality toward the archetypal” (Pareles). These various poems that are shown throughout the visual album, help convey the theme of infidelity and gender roles.

I’m not one to fawn over celebrities, but this album was oddly influential to me. After experiencing the visual album, I was mind-blown. I am not easily persuaded or moved by art, but Lemonade has done some emotional work on me. The visual album, which has an actual plot and story to it, included various emotions that seemed to resemble steps you would take on a path to forgiveness. “Beyoncé ‘s visual album begins with her on a stage and in the fields of New Orleans, the main setting for her 11-chapter opus. Each tells her personal version of the stages of grief — intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability, reformation, forgiveness, resurrection, hope, redemption” (Lockett).

One of the main topics addressed in Beyoncé’s Lemonade album is the issue of infidelity in her marriage. If you haven’t already listened to the album, the link to all 12 songs, please do. There are multitudes of references Beyoncé makes toward her relationship. From the very start of the album, Beyoncé hints toward infidelity. “Lemonade is very much about romantic strife; it opens with the lyric “You can taste the dishonesty” and takes off from there, detailing transgressions both major and minor” (Johnston). Each song in the album comes together to produce every emotion a woman would feel in a relationship that includes hardships.

Each song produces a new phase of emotion. “Pray You Catch Me” produces a tone of disappointment and sorrow, after finding out infidelity has entered the doors of her home. The album then transitions to a new song, “Hold Up”, and a new stage in the story. “I smell your secrets… How did it come down to this, going through your call list.” Beyoncé starts to question, “Whats worse, looking jealous or crazy?” and then adds the opposing view of “feeling walked all over”. She then decides that she’d rather look crazy than looking like she’d been played by her other half. The album then transitions to the song, “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” This song, which has a rock and roll twist to it, basically has a “don’t fuck with me” tone to it. At the end of the song, Beyoncé sings “this is your final warning, you know I give you life. If you try this shit again, you gon’ lose your wife.” Beyoncé then continues to lyrically screw the man who did her wrong through the next few songs as she sings about focusing on only herself (i.e. making money, moving on) and proclaiming her stance on the issue of her relationship.

The album starts to transition into a totally different theme, after the song “Daddy Lessons,” which makes the audience question if this album is for various people in Beyoncé’s life. After feeling rage, Beyoncé starts to soften up, bringing in the opposing party’s emotions. “Love Drought” explains that the love she has is so strong that it could “move mountains.” She mentions the opposing party trying to fix what’s been done. The album transitions from fury to the beginning of forgiveness, as the song “Sandcastles” plays. This song undoubtedly portrays Beyoncé’s true emotion in Lemonade. Her voice delivers nothing but sorrow in the song, “Sandcastles,” which is why it is so touching to me. The cracks in her voice explains to the audience that she has been broken by something that can’t be undone, but Beyoncé doesn’t stop there. She rises from her heartache in her songs “Freedom” and “All Night,” which resolves her problem. She accepts what has been done, and is finally free of anger and in her last stage of forgiveness. The most powerful words in this album lay in the song “All Night,” where Beyoncé utilizes figurative language in the bridge of the song. “They say true love’s the greatest weapon to win the war caused by pain… Every diamond has, imperfections, but my love’s too pure to watch it chip away.” After all the pain and sorrow she experienced, the love she carried was too strong to throw away. She continues to say, “True love breathes salvation back into me. With every tear came redemption. And my torturer became a remedy.” Instead of letting her experiences define her, she used them to help her grow, which is what makes it inspirational to any woman who has experienced defects in their relationship. Tidal calls Beyoncé’s Lemonade album a “conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing” (Spanos).

Beyoncé uses this album to not only address infidelity, but empower women and shine light on racial discrimination, which is still a major issue in America today. In the visual album, various settings and almost all of the wardrobe shown in the video express African culture. At the start of the visual album, Beyoncé is dressed in a yellow dress, resembling Oshun, an African goddess. She is shown sleeping in a room filled with water, and awakened after the doors of the room are opened. Beyoncé then roams around the town of New Orleans, destroying everything in sight, with her baseball bat. “Folktales of Oshun describe her malevolent temper and sinister smile when she has been wronged” (Roberts).

Beyoncé also recites Warsan Shire’s poems, who has deep roots to African culture, and covers the subject as well. Usurps from Warsan Shire’s poetry help display the themes of Beyoncé’s visual album, interspersing between songs (Gharib). Beyoncé doesn’t just include a black poet, she features various African-American icons in America, such as Serena Williams, Zendaya, and Amandla Stenberg. These women are used to portray unity between gender and race.

I have no data or trends to back up my argument on why Beyoncé is such an iconic figure to people around the country. All I can do is encourage others to watch and listen to the album Lemonade, and figure out for themselves whether they agree with the “Beyhive” that Beyoncé is addressing issues that are not given the proper attention in the media. This artist has creatively expressed these problems through poetry, music, and imagery, all while bringing her own personal issues into the light of society. A woman who people idolized for having the “perfect life” had the courage to share her personal story to the world through art. If Beyoncé doesn’t take the award for bringing under appreciated issues to attention, could someone please tell me who does?

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