|First posted 9/24/2020; updated 12/1/2020.|
Released: April 23, 2016
Peak: 11 US, 1 Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.4 UK, 5.9 world (includes US and UK)
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.4 UK, 5.9 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 45:42
4.348 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The well-known proverb is spoken by Hattie White, Beyoncé’s grandmother-in-law, in the song “Freedom.” WK It serves as the the premise behind Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, a cathartic exploration of the emotional turmoil she endured after her husband, rapper and business mogul Jay-Z, cheated on her. In an interview with Elle magazine, she said, “Everyone experiences pain, but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform.” WK
The song cycle explores “her husband’s infidelity in a generational and racial context.” WK She uses the album “to demand contrition from her adulterous partner, assert her excellence, reflect upon the bonds with the men in her life, and their relationships with other women, and wonders if her trust can be earned back.” AMG Melina Matsoukas, who directed the Formation video, said Beyoncé “wanted to show the historical impact of slavery on black love, and what it has done to the black family, and black men and women – how we’re almos socialized not to be together.” WK
Musically, the album is rooted in R&B, but also incorporates Americana, blues, country, electronica, funk, gospel, hip-hop, reggae, rock, soul, and trap. WK She drew inspiration from female black singers including Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Memphis Minnie, and Dionne Warwick. WK The album samples and interpolates a number of hip-hop and rock songs and also includes guest spots from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Jack White. WK
There is “an apparent disregard for appealing to commercial radio that makes Lemonade a distinct addition to her catalog.” AMG However, the album was not only commercially successful, but the most acclaimed of her career, WK landing a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year and winning for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video. It was named Album of the Year by Rolling Stone and Dave’s Music Database. In 2020, Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan called oit one of the great art pop albums of the last 20 years. WK The Associated Press named it the album of the decade. WK
“The cathartic and wounded moments here resonate in a manner matched by few, if any, of Beyoncé's contemporaries.” AMG “There’s more power in the few seconds she chokes back tears while singing ‘Come back’ – timed with the backing vocal in Isaac Hayes’ version of ‘Walk on By’ – than there is in most contemporary ballads.” AMG Lemonade can “be heard as the dark flipside of [previous album] Beyoncé. When ‘Dishes smashed on the counter’ is bleakly observed, just before ‘Pictures snatched out the frame/Bitch, I scratched out your name and face’ is delivered with seething wrath, it’s hard to not flash back to ‘Drunk in Love,’ in which the presumably same couple were revelrous in the same room.” AMG
“She sometimes eclipses herself in terms of raw emotion, as on the throttling Jack White encounter Don’t Hurt Yourself.” AMG White said of the song, “she took just sort of a sketch of a lyrical outline and turned it into the most bodacious, vicious, incredible song.” WK The song uses an excerpt from a Malcolm X speech and samples Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” a song originally performed by Memphis Minnie that referenced the displacement of hundreds of thousands of African Americans during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. WK That song and the country song Daddy Lessons illustrate how genres established by African Americans are now seen predominantly as white music. WK
“After the first three-quarters play out in compelling if somewhat erratic fashion, Lemonade closes with a torrid stretch. Freedom is a marching anthem of resilience and preservation, produced by Just Blaze with a glowing guest verse from Kendrick Lamar.” AMG “All Night is a tangle of emotions and hints at reconciliation, facilitated by the horns from OutKast’s ‘Spottie Ottie Dopaliscious.’ And then, at last, there's the strutting ‘Formation,’ simultaneously a tack-on and an ideal finale, where Beyoncé delights in her blackness, femininity, and Southern origin with supreme wordplay.” AMG
Notes: The streaming edition of the album included a demo of “Sorry.” A sixty-five minute film aired on HBO which featured 11 chapters which corresponded to the songs on the album. It was released as a second disc to Lemonade.
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