WHO CHEATS ON BEYONCE?!
Sorry. Getting ahead of myself.
If you haven't been on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter or looked at iTunes or Buzzfeed or anything else this morning, let me share with you:
Saturday night, Beyonce released a visual album - beautiful, film-quality music videos accompanying each new song on her record - on HBO. Immediately after she released the visual album, she released the audio album, LEMONADE, to Tidal, her husband (Jay Z)'s music streaming service.
In an interesting twist, though, she'll also be releasing it on iTunes. This is worth noting for a couple of reasons: 1. Because the purpose of Tidal was to create a superior streaming service to iTunes for "real" artists, so releasing it on both platforms is kind of defeating the purpose, but 2. Because Tidal was founded by Jay Z, who cheated on her.
And that's what this new project is all about.
In LEMONADE, titled because of Jay Z's grandmother's quote ("I was served lemons, but I made lemonade,"), Beyonce takes us on a journey from discovering her husband's infidelity (as word markers flash across the screen: "Denial," "Anger," Accountability," "Apathy") to her decision to try and move forward in her marriage ("Reformation," "Forgiveness," "Hope"). Watching the visual album straight through takes a little under an hour (57 minutes) and feels like watching a movie - one that's almost too emotionally honest to look at directly.
Everything about this project is raw. It's hard to watch. It's hard to listen to. At one point, through her beautiful singing, you can hear the tears in her voice as she nearly screams:
"Dishes smashed on the counter / from our last encounter / pictures snatched out the frame / bitch, I scratched out your name and your face / what is it about you that I can't erase?/ Every promise don't work out that way."
But the reason this album is so unique is that for all the times you want to turn away from the unfiltered intensity, you are compelled to keep watching because of the absolutely stunning aesthetics of each shot.
Beyonce's new project is one of the most visually beautiful things I've seen in a long time. Every close-up, every costuming choice, every set, every woman who appears in it - it's classically beautiful one second and hauntingly sad the next. No matter what's going on on screen, you can't stop watching -- especially when you figure out that her outfits in LEMONADE correspond with outfits she's worn in previous music videos with her husband.
SYMBOLISM, PEOPLE. It's everywhere. You really have to watch this four or five times through to get it all.
From a musical standpoint, this album is a real departure from her self-titled last album. It's musically more diverse, with LEMONADE featuring tracks that sound like old-school Southern rock and roll -- there's even a nod to country music. A couple of ballads will leave you gut-punched, and her new song "Sorry," will come to be known as the fight song for scorned women everywhere.
Toward the end of this gorgeous project, there's a song called "Sandcastles." The title word for the that flashes before the track - the word that marks where Beyonce's heart is at this point in the story - is "Forgiveness." And the video for this one features Jay Z and Beyonce, together, face to face, while sometimes cutting to b-roll of their wedding day, Beyonce's parents' wedding day, Jay and Blue Ivy playing together - it looks like all is mended.
Though the visual album ends with a reconciliation, (I mean, Jay didn't film this video for his wife's new album unaware that it was entirely about him cheating, so, ya gotta figure they've worked through it), it's gonna take a little longer than 57 minutes for us all to process the fact that he cheated.
Because...WHO CHEATS ON BEYONCE?
If you haven't watched the visual album (available on HBO), here are some teaser shots for you. Meanwhile, you can read reviews of the album here, here, and read the beautiful (and extremely powerful) spoken word poetry preceding each song here.
All in all, it is a powerhouse of a project and one of the most humanizing things an international superstar, an untouchable celebrity, could have released. I can't wait to talk about it with any and all of you guys.