Recently, global superstar Beyonce released her sixth studio album Lemonade. Labelled “Beyonce’s most personal, political and powerful album yet” by Digital Spy, Lemonade masterfully dissects complex themes such as infidelity, love, black female empowerment and racial politics. Here I ask: what are the best songs from Beyonce’s new album?
6 Inch ft. The Weeknd
By teaming up with The Weeknd, Beyonce produced a cousin to his own successful track ‘The Hills’ in ‘6 Inch.’ A dark, slick slice of alternative R&B, on this song Beyonce is more in control than ever before, deftly showing us all that she’s “worth every dollar.” The song’s stand out phrase, “six inch heels, she walked in the club like nobody’s business/God damn, she murdered everybody and I was her witness” says it all really. As she proves on ‘6 inch,’ Queen Bey is a BOSS who can produce an alternative R&B track every bit as seductive and infectious as ‘The Hills.’
On ‘Daddy Lessons’ Beyonce does country and surprisingly, it works. Backed by plucky guitar strains and sassy sax, here Queen Bey evokes imagery of her native Texas. The song performs an amazing volte-face, starting by revealing what Beyonce learned from her father growing up, saying that “daddy made a soldier out of me.” She twists this premise on its head to share that “when trouble comes to town/ And men like me come around/ Oh, my daddy said shoot,” presenting us with a fascinating personal allegory illustrating how our formative years can stay with us forever.
Nowhere on Lemonade is redemption more expertly tackled than ‘Love Drought.’ Here, the songstress tones down her famous vocal instrument, allowing her to murmur and croon softly over twinkly electro beats and sparse staccato synths. With lines like “Ten times of nine, I know you’re lying/But nine times outta ten, I know you’re trying,” on ‘Love Drought’ Beyonce manages to carefully depict the struggle that comes with moving forward in a tumultuous relationship.
Freedom ft. Kendrick Lamar
Evocative of 60s psychedelic rock, ‘Freedom’ is Lemonade‘s big anthem. Singing lyrics like “I’m telling these tears, go and fall away,” and “I break chains all by myself/Won’t let my freedom rot in hell” over brash electric guitar, and pounding drums, here Queen Bey is at her most defiant. Her liberating words, along with a blatantly political verse from Kendrick Lamar, turn her personal search for inner strength on ‘Freedom’ into a bold, clever rejection of racial oppression.
Beyonce leaves one of Lemonade‘s best tracks until last in ‘Formation,’ where she once again takes personal experiences to shine a light on larger racial issues. Harking back to ‘6 Inch,’ Queen Bey is once again in full control, telling us that “she’s earned all this money/but they never take the country out me” and that she “take what’s mine,” clearly letting us know that “I’m a star.” In other words on ‘Formation’ Beyonce is letting us know that she’s proud to be a successful black woman, empowering other talented black women to take pride in their own accomplishments.
Cohesive body of work
In Lemonade, Beyonce has created the most critically acclaimed album since Adele’s 25. By using intimate issues to explore wider cultural themes, Queen Bey has developed a body of work that is both refreshingly personal and socially relevant. Instead of shooting individual videos for these songs, Beyonce developed a 60 minute film to accompany the album. This underscores my final point; Lemonade is an extremely cohesive body of work. Rather than picking out songs, listen to the album through from start to finish, to see why critics are raving about Beyonce’s latest collection.