The queen has returned and better than ever, Beyoncé dropped her new visual album last weekend and the entire world simultaneously lost and got their lives. When HBO released the promo for Lemonade people were scratching their heads as to what it could be; a documentary? A look inside her upcoming Formation World Tour? What it turned out it be was the hour long short film to accompany her 6th studio album Lemonade.
Beyoncé has grown immensely as an artist both lyrically and sonically. This album is far more complex than anything that she has done thus far, and deeply personal. The album features collabs with the likes of Jack White of The White Stripes, Kendrick Lamar and thee James Blake. Part of this evolution is experimenting with new sounds and genres of music. The song ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’, featuring Jack White, has an angry rock vibe, with heavy drums and a furious guitar. In the past, when Beyoncé has collaborated with other artists , the songs sound very much like her typical top 40 pop/R&B sound. Here, she lets the featuring artists’ signature sounds influence her music.
Lemonade is the Rosetta Stone in visual albums, a how-to manual on how to create a piece of art that so perfectly couples visuals and sounds
Some critics argue that visual albums take away from the quality of the music or that they allow artist to be lazy in making their music because the visuals will mask terrible music. I see where these critics are coming from and would even side with some of those arguments, but in the case of Lemonade I have to disagree. I think that if visual albums are done right they can absolutely amplify the quality of an album. Beyoncé, and B’s very own production company, Parkwood Entertainment, were meticulous in their design of the visuals for this album.
Standing alone, Lemonade is a superb piece of work, but not one that instantly sounds like a hit. Outside of ‘Formation there isn’t a clear single that radio stations could play. This problem comes from the structure of the album; each song entirely belongs to the one that comes after it. Once you start listening to it deeply and unpacking the lyrics, you, the listener, realizes there is a real story happening here, and you want to keep listening to find out what happens at the end. What the visuals do is help the listener better understand the message. There is no misunderstanding what Beyoncé is talking about on this album, but just in case you were confused the film ma it very clear.
“n the past, when Beyoncé has collaborated with other artists , the songs sound very much like her... Here, she lets the featuring artists’ signature sounds influence her music.
Lemonade is Beyoncé’s second visual album, her self-titled album Beyoncé featured music videos for each of the songs on the album. This however, feels very different. Beyoncé has set the bar high with her visual albums and if artists want to replicate them they are going to have to be just as painstakingly detailed in creating them. They cannot just simply shoot a bunch of videos and place them just because they think it looks nice. Visual albums need to serve a purpose and the audience needs to be able to connect to it. Lemonade is the Rosetta Stone in visual albums, a how-to manual on how to create a piece of art that so perfectly couples visuals and sounds in order to do what music is supposed to do, connect artist and listener.