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Lemonade is the sixth studio album by Beyoncé. It was released on April 23, 2016 by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, accompanied by a sixty-five-minute film of the same title on HBO. It is Beyoncé's second "visual album", following her self-titled fifth studio album (2013), and a concept album with a song cycle that relates Beyoncé's emotional journey after her husband's infidelity in a generational and racial context. Primarily an R&B album, Lemonade encompasses a variety of genres, including reggae, blues, rock, hip hop, soul, funk, Americana, country, gospel, electronic, and trap. It features guest vocals from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Jack White, and contains samples and interpolations of a number of hip hop and rock songs.

Supported by five singles—"Formation", "Sorry", "Hold Up", "Freedom", and "All NightLemonade received widespread critical acclaim, and is the most acclaimed studio album of Beyoncé's career. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, earning 653,000 with additional album-equivalent units, including 485,000 copies in its first week of sales. It has since been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Lemonade was nominated for nine Grammy Awards at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017), including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It won Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video, but lost Album of the Year to Adele's 25. The album's visuals received 11 nominations and won eight of those at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, including Breakthrough Long Form Video and Video of the Year. Based on critical ratings and appraisals, Lemonade is widely regarded as one of the best albums of the 21st century.

Background[]

On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé released "Formation" free on the music streaming service Tidal and its accompanying music video on her official YouTube account.[1] The following day, Beyoncé performed "Formation" during her performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.[2] Immediately after the performance, a commercial aired announcing The Formation World Tour, which kicked off in Miami, Florida on April 27, 2016, with the first pre-sales going on sale just two days after the announcement on February 9, 2016.[3] Beyoncé was both praised[4] and criticized[5] over her "Formation" and the Black Panther-influenced costume for her Super Bowl halftime performance.[6] As a result of this, the hashtags "#BoycottBeyonce" and "#IStandWithBeyonce" began trending on social media platforms such as Twitter and Beyoncé faced boycotts from police unions.[7] A group of protesters planned to stage an "anti-Beyoncé" rally outside of the NFL's headquarters in New York City, New York on the day general sale of tickets went for sale,[8] but no protesters showed up; instead, dozens of Beyoncé supporters held a rally for her.[9]

When asked what she wanted to accomplish with the next phase of her career in an interview with Elle, published on April 4, 2016, Beyoncé said: "I hope I can create art that helps people heal. Art that makes people feel proud of their struggle. Everyone experiences pain, but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform."[10]

Recording and production[]

Lemonade was recorded between June 2014 and July 2015 across 11 studios in the United States.[11] The album was written in stages, with Beyoncé retreating to her home to work on the recordings with recording and mixing engineer Stuart White, as well as to take care of her daughter.[12] Beyoncé had the idea to write each song corresponding to the eleven chapters that can be seen in the Lemonade film, and posted moodboards around the studio representing each chapter to provide direction to her collaborators.[13][14] Beyoncé and her collaborators also played music in the studio to inspire each other.[15]

Jay-Z recounted how he and Beyoncé were in the studio to record music, both separately and together, describing it as "using our art almost like a therapy session" after his infidelity. The music that Beyoncé recorded separately was what became Lemonade and was released first.[16] Lemonade was produced through Beyoncé's synthesis of the work of many collaborators, including both popular and lesser known artists.[17] MNEK relayed how "Hold Up" was written, saying "The way Beyoncé works, the song is a jigsaw piece and then she will piece various elements. It could be a bit that she's written, a bit that someone else has written and she’ll make that the bridge; a bit I've written she’ll make the middle eight".[14] MNEK also explains that Beyoncé was "overlooking everything, saying 'I like this, I like that, this is how this should sound, this is how that should sound.'"[18]

"Don't Hurt Yourself" collaborator Jack White describes how "she took just sort of a sketch of a lyrical outline and turned into the most bodacious, vicious, incredible song... I'm so amazed at what she did with it."[19] "Hold Up" and "Sorry" co-writer and co-producer MeLo-X explains that "she has a way of creating that I’ve never seen before as an artist. She produces, alters and arranges tracks in ways I wouldn’t think of."[17] When talking about how he scored the Lemonade film as well, MeLo-X explains "She's hands on with everything. She gives direction on everything and is very involved with the whole process. It's inspiring to see an artist on that level be able to just still have an eye for certain things and an ear... We would just sit down and go over with different things and different scenes and sounds and kind of put it together piece by piece."[15]

Title and artwork[]

The album title was inspired by Beyoncé's husband Jay-Z's grandmother, Hattie White, as well as her grandmother Agnéz Deréon. At the end of the song "Freedom", an audio recording of Hattie White speaking to a crowd at her ninetieth birthday party in December 2015 is played. During the speech, Hattie says: "I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade", referencing the proverb "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" that encourages turning sourness and difficulty to something positive. Beyoncé also draws a connection to her own grandmother, Agnez Deréon, using her lemonade recipe that was passed down through the generations as a metaphor for the mechanisms for healing passed through generations.[20]

The cover artwork for Lemonade is a still frame from the music video for "Don't Hurt Yourself" and features Beyoncé wearing cornrows and a fur coat, leaning against a minivan and covering her face with her arm.[21]

Release and promotion[]

Main article: The Formation World Tour

Lemonade was first made available for online streaming via Tidal on April 23, 2016 through Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, and for digital download the following day. It was released for CD and DVD on May 6, 2016. A limited edition box set titled How to Make Lemonade was made available for pre-order on August 18, 2017, containing a six-hundred-page coffee table book, featuring a set of pictures and behind-the-scenes content showcasing the making of the album, and a double vinyl LP of Lemonade. Standalone vinyl was released on September 15, 2017.[22] Upon its release, Lemonade was only available to stream on Tidal; however the album was eventually released to all other streaming platforms on April 23, 2019, exactly three years after its release. The version of the album that was made available on other streaming services contains the original audio part of Lemonade as well as the original demo of "Sorry".[23]

Beyoncé had a goal to perform the entire Lemonade album live.[24] Beyoncé performed "Formation" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as part of her guest appearance at the event, with critics lauding the performance and stating that she stole the show from headliners Coldplay.[25][26][27] The political symbolism in the performance also inspired many thinkpieces and discussions on their history and significance.[28][29][30] Beyoncé performed "Freedom" with Kendrick Lamar as the surprise opening number at the 2016 BET Awards on June 27.[31] The performance began with an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.[32][33] The performance was met with acclaim by critics.[34] At the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, Beyoncé performed a sixteen-minute medley of "Pray You Catch Me", "Hold Up", "Sorry", "Don't Hurt Yourself", and "Formation", and included interludes of the poetry as heard in the Lemonade film.[35] Critics noted that Beyoncé used political symbolism during "Pray You Catch Me", which included angel-like dancers in historical black hairstyles (such as Bantu knots, braids and dreadlocks) successively falling to the ground as though shot, alluding to police brutality, and a black man in a black hoodie catching, uplifting and pushing Beyoncé forward, alluding to Trayvon Martin, who was killed when wearing a black hoodie.[36][37]

On October 19, Beyoncé performed "6 Inch" and "All Night" at the TIDAL X benefit concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City.[38] On November 2, Beyoncé performed "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks at the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards (2016).[39] The performance (which was the first featuring the Dixie Chicks in a decade after being blacklisted for their criticism of George W Bush in 2003) was widely praised by critics,[40][41] but was met with criticism and racism by conservative country fans; this sparked conversations about the identity of country music and black people's place in it.[42][43][44] Subsequently, a remix of "Daddy Lessons" featuring the Dixie Chicks was released.[45][46] At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards on February 12, 2017 Beyoncé performed "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles".[47] Themed around motherhood, the five-months pregnant Beyoncé's performance is recognised by commentators to evoke various female deities and Renaissance European Christian art (such as Tintoretto's Last Supper, Simone Martini's Maestà and depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe) and various non-European allusions such as Fulani facepainting, Ethiopian icons, Byzantine jewelry and Latin American Baroque painting.[48][49][50]

In order to promote the album, Beyoncé embarked on The Formation World Tour which visited countries in North America and Europe from April to October 2016.[51] The stage featured the Es Devlin-designed 'Monolith', a revolving seven-storey-tall box made with video screen walls that could shoot out fire and fireworks and split open, and which revolved during the show to represent a new chapter in line with the Lemonade film.[52][53] The Formation World Tour was met with rave reviews from critics, such as Kat Bein for Rolling Stone who described the show as "a prime example of entertainment and a vision of an artist at her apex" and "a visual feast as well as an emotional tour de force, packed with fireworks, confetti, rearranging stage designs and aerial dancers."[51] The Formation World Tour won Tour of the Year at the 2016 American Music Awards,[54] was included in Rolling Stone's 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years list in 2017,[55] and was named the best tour of the decade (2010s) by Consequence of Sound in 2019.[56]

The Formation World Tour was ranked at number one and number two on Pollstar's 2016 mid-year Top 100 Tours chart both in North America and worldwide respectively, with a total mid-year worldwide gross of $137.3 million from the first twenty-five shows (including $126.3 million from the first North American leg of the tour). In total, the tour grossed $256 million from forty-nine sold-out shows according to Billboard box score, and ranked at number two on Pollstar's 2016 Year-End Tours chart.

Singles[]

"Formation" was released as the album's lead single exclusively on Tidal on February 6, 2016, along with its accompanying music video. The following day, Beyoncé performed it at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as part of her guest appearance at the event.[57] "Formation" peaked at number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, despite little promotion. The music video for the song was uploaded onto Vevo in December 2016.[58]

"Sorry" was released as the second single and serviced to rhythmic adult contemporary radio in the United States on May 3, 2016,[59] and its music video was uploaded onto Vevo on June 22, 2016.[60] The single debuted and peaked at number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100.[61]

"Hold Up" was the third single and was first released to contemporary hit radio stations in Germany and the United Kingdom on May 12, 2016,[62][63] and was later serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States on August 16, 2016.[64] It debuted at number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot 100.[61] The music video for "Hold Up" was uploaded onto Vevo on September 4, 2016.[65] "Freedom" was released as the fourth single and was sent to radio stations on September 9, 2016. It previously peaked at number thirty-five on the US Billboard Hot 100. "All Night" was released as the fifth and final single on December 6, 2016. It previously debuted at number thirty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its accompanying music video was released onto Vevo on November 30, 2016.

Critical acclaim[]

The album received universal acclaim on Metacritic, garnering a metascore of 92, based on 33 critic reviews. It's Beyoncé's highest score to date.[66]

Tracklist[]

  1. "Pray You Catch Me"
  2. "Hold Up"
  3. "Don't Hurt Yourself" ft. Jack White
  4. "Sorry"
  5. "6 Inch" ft. The Weeknd
  6. "Daddy Lessons"
  7. "Love Drought"
  8. "Sandcastles"
  9. "Forward" ft. James Blake
  10. "Freedom" ft. Kendrick Lamar
  11. "All Night"
  12. "Formation"

Film chronology[]

  1. "Intuition"
  2. "Pray You Catch Me"
  3. "Denial"
  4. "Hold Up"
  5. "Anger"
  6. "Don't Hurt Yourself" ft. Jack White
  7. "Apathy"
  8. "Sorry"
  9. "Emptiness"
  10. "6 Inch" ft. The Weeknd
  11. "Accountability"
  12. "Daddy Lessons"
  13. "Reformation"
  14. "Love Drought"
  15. "Forgiveness"
  16. "Sandcastles"
  17. "Resurrection"
  18. "Forward" ft. James Blake
  19. "Hope"
  20. "Freedom" ft. Kendrick Lamar
  21. "Redemption"
  22. "All Night"
  23. "Formation"

Booklet and credits[]

References[]

  1. Listen to Beyoncé's new surprise single 'Formation'
  2. Beyoncé unleashes Black Panthers homage at Super Bowl 50
  3. Beyoncé announced a new world tour after her Super Bowl halftime performance
  4. People have actually organised an Anti-Beyoncé protest rally
  5. Beyonce's Super Bowl Halftime Show Criticized by Rudy Giuliani as "Attack" on Police
  6. Why was Beyonce's Super Bowl show significant?
  7. People are trying to boycott Beyoncé after her 'Formation' video
  8. Anger: Anti-Beyoncé Rally Planned For Next Week At NFL Headquarters
  9. Only fans in 'Formation' at planned anti-Beyoncé rally
  10. Beyoncé Wants to Change the Conversation
  11. Engineering the Sound: Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'
  12. MIX MASTERS: MAKING LEMONADE WITH BEYONCE'S RIGHT-HAND MAN, STUART WHITE
  13. MNEK On 'Language,' Representation & Working With Beyoncé: Interview
  14. 14.0 14.1 MNEK unpacks three of his biggest hits
  15. 15.0 15.1 Beyoncé's Lemonade Collaborator MeLo-X Gives First Interview on Making of the Album
  16. Jay-Z admits to cheating on Beyonce and says music was their 'therapy'
  17. 17.0 17.1 Making 'Lemonade': Inside Beyonce's New Masterpiece
  18. Beyoncé's Lemonade Collaborator MNEK Talks Lending "Hold Up" a Key Line
  19. Jack White On Detroit, Beyoncé And Where Songs Come From
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :282
  21. Beyoncé ft Jack White – Don't Hurt Yourself ( Official Music Video ) Pre Promo
  22. Beyoncé Just Released the Most Stylish 600-Page Coffee Table Book
  23. Beyonce to Release Audio of ‘Lemonade’ Film across All Music Streaming Platforms (EXCLUSIVE)
  24. Beyoncé's Choreographer Talks Grammys, Why Being a 'Great Mom' Informs Her Art — and If She'll 'Rock' Coachella
  25. Review: It's Coldplay, Starring Beyoncé, at Super Bowl Halftime Show
  26. Super Bowl half-time show review – Beyoncé easily steals the show from Coldplay
  27. Review: Beyonce upstages Coldplay in Super Bowl halftime show
  28. The Revolutionary Politics Behind Beyoncé's Super Bowl Halftime Show
  29. Why was Beyonce's Super Bowl show significant?
  30. Beyoncé 'Formation' Super Bowl Performance: 5 Think Pieces About Blackness And Singer's New Video
  31. Watch Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar Destroy 'Freedom' At The BET Awards
  32. beyoncé and kendrick lamar opened the bet awards with a surprise performance
  33. Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar open BET Awards with blazing rendition of 'Freedom'
  34. Beyoncé Makes Epic Freedom Statement At The BET Awards
  35. VMAs 2016: Beyoncé performs Lemonade tracks
  36. Beyoncé's VMA performance of "Pray You Catch Me" was an earth-shattering nod to BLM
  37. Beyoncé's VMAs Performance Included A Tribute To Trayvon Martin
  38. Relive Beyoncé's "6 Inch" Performance from the TidalX: 1015 Concert Right Here
  39. Beyoncé's 'Daddy Lessons' Tops Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 Chart After CMA Awards Performance
  40. Beyonce, Dixie Chicks wow CMA audience despite backlash
  41. Beyoncé And The Dixie Chicks Offer Up Lessons On Country Music's Past (And Future)
  42. Beyonce's CMAs Performance Was a Musical and Racial Olive Branch
  43. Beyoncé, the CMAs, and the fight over country music’s politics, explained
  44. Beyoncé’s C.M.A. Awards Performance Becomes the Target of Backlash
  45. Daddy Lessons (feat. Dixie Chicks) – Single
  46. Daddy Lessons – Beyoncé
  47. Grammys 2017: Watch Beyoncé's Incredible Performance
  48. 3 Art History Experts Explain Beyoncé’s Epic Grammys Performance
  49. This Is Where You've Seen Beyoncé's Golden Goddess Performance Before
  50. Beyonce's Grammy Performance: The Cultural References Behind It
  51. 51.0 51.1 Beyoncé Stuns With 'Lemonade' Debuts, Rousing Hits at Tour Kickoff
  52. Live Design Magazine July 2016
  53. BEYONCE Sells Out Dodger Stadium on The Formation World Tour!
  54. AMAs 2016: Complete Winners List
  55. The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years
  56. Top 25 Tours of the 2010s
  57. Review: It's Coldplay, Starring Beyoncé, at Super Bowl Halftime Show
  58. Desiigner Holds Off Drake Atop Hot 100, Prince & Beyoncé Hit Top 10
  59. Top 40 Rhythmic: Future Releases
  60. Beyoncé – Sorry
  61. 61.0 61.1 All 12 of Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' Tracks Debut on Hot 100
  62. Neu in Funkhaus Europa Beyoncé: "Hold Up"
  63. BBC – Radio 1 – Playlist
  64. FMQB: Radio Industry News, Music Industry Updates, Nielsen Ratings, Music News and more!
  65. Beyoncé – Hold Up
  66. Metacritic - Lemonade by Beyoncé
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