I’ve watched Lemonade three times now, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it.
The 12-track album/movie/cumulative creative effort of three year’s time was released Saturday night on HBO and Tidal. In recent years Beyoncé has become notorious for dropping huge content bombs with little to no warning (see: Beyoncé surprise visual album release, Ivy Park athletic wear line), and Lemonade lived up to the hype. For years there have been allegations of Mr. Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z, of being unfaithful but up until now those rumors have been relatively unconfirmed. Lemonade presents listeners with Beyoncé’s deeply personal journey detailing her grieving process upon realizing her hubby’s extramarital activities. For those of you who don’t have time to devour and dissect the hour-long film let alone purchase a Tidal subscription to listen to the album in its entirety, I’ve got you covered with a track-by-track summary.
Track 1: “Pray You Catch Me”
As we enter into Lemonade’s soundscape, we are greeted by the cold caress of Bey’s plead, asking her husband to come clean about his infidelity. It’s incredibly heart-breaking and chilling, as we find Bey at her most vulnerable, leaping from the edge of a hotel into a watery abyss.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “You can taste the dishonesty / It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier” … Damn Jay, why you gotta play B like that?
Track 2: “Hold Up”
“Hold Up” is misleading because of its catchy, and dare I say fun? sound, but it doesn’t take long before Beyoncé is seen smashing windows of cars, fire hydrants, and ultimately the head of the cameraman. Ouch. But she looks damn good doing it!
Tweet-worthy lyric: “What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy / Jealous or crazy / Or like being walked all over lately / I’d rather be crazy”
Track 3: “Don’t Hurt Yourself” (Feat. Jack White)
Being a die-hard Beyoncé fan, I’ve been on quite a few emotional rollercoasters through her music, but never have I ever been on a viscerally angry journey such as this one. Set in an ominous parking garage, Bey looks badass, like someone we would never, ever want to mess with. The Jack White collab hits an emotional peak as Bey quite literally screams, “Who the F*CK do you think I is?!”
Tweet-worthy lyric: “This is your final warning / You know I give you life / If you try this shit again / You gon’ lose your wife”
Track 4: “Sorry”
The screw-boys-who-needs-them lady-jam features a Serena Williams cameo and damn, she kills it (*side eye at Drake*). Beyoncé gets a much-needed girl’s night on a party bus with her closest painted-faced friends. Boy, BYE.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “He better call Becky with the good hair” has quickly become a social media sensation, pointing fingers towards fashion designer Rachel Roy as Jay-Z’s mistress.
Track 5: “6 Inch” (feat. The Weeknd)
Giving us our fix of Yoncé’s tasteful take on trap music for the album, “6 Inch” features a story about ladies staying on their grind, and getting on their money. (And, truly, isn’t this the premise of every Weeknd song?) This song also gives us our fix of Bey’s staple dim-lit leotard-clad seductive dancing, reminiscent of the “Partition” video from Beyoncé.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Oh baby you know, she got them commas and them decimals / She don’t gotta give it up cause she professional”
Track 6: “Daddy Lessons”
Forget what you know about Beyoncé… cuz this bitch just did country. This folksy ditty is dirty with Southern grit, detailing the complicated relationship between Bey and her father, Mathew Knowles. Mr. Knowles was Beyoncé’s manager from the time she was a kid up until he allegedly cheated on Mrs. Knowles, causing friction that resulted in the end of his managerial position and marriage. Kinda full circle ain’t it?
Tweet-worthy lyric: “My daddy warned me about men like you / He said baby girl, he’s playing you” But B, can you really trust a cheating man’s word about other cheating men???
Track 7: “Love Drought”
Marking the beginning of her reconciliation with Jay, Bey realizes that she derives strength from her man, enough strength that they “could move a mountain”. Together, Jay&Bey’s love is an unstoppable force that could end their love drought. Awww.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Nine times out of ten I’m in my feelings / But ten times out of nine I’m only human”
Track 8: “Sandcastles”
In this stripped-down piano ballad, Bey decides to reconcile with her cheating-ass husband because as he has broken his promise to her (marital fidelity), she must break her promise too (leaving him). The video shows B&J at their most intimate moments, laughing and playing, juxtaposed to images of B, scorned and alone, playing a piano sadly in their empty loft. At the emotional peaks of the song, Beyoncé literally howls with so much emotional intensity you can really feel how painful the entire process has been for her. Cue the tissues.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Bitch, I scratched out your name and your face / What is it about you I can’t erase, baby?”
Track 9: “Forward” (feat. James Blake)
All I can say about this track is that it’s just not enough. Not because it’s lacking musically, but rather it is simply just not long enough! At one minute and nineteen seconds, the shortest song of the album leaves us grasping for more as James Blake’s haunting cry tells us “forward”.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Go back to sleep in your favorite spot next to me”
Track 10: “Freedom” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
It’s only fitting that the über-political banger of the album features one of the most politically-aware artists in recent years: Kendrick Lamar. “Freedom” is without a doubt the visual highlight of the album, using costuming and sets reminiscent of 19th century slavery culture to convey its message of breaking down barriers holding back the black community. However, instead of white women in the beautiful fashions of this age, black women are showcased in their beauty. Take that, Andrew Jackson.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Yeah, open our mind as we cast away oppression / Yeah, open the streets and watch our beliefs / And what they carve my name inside the concrete / I pray it forever reads / Freedom”
Track 11: “All Night”
On “All Night”, Beyoncé softly nestles us in the comfort of her beautiful voice as she strokes our hair and tells us that everything will be okay. The video features the cutest clips of Jay-Z playing with the couple’s daughter, Blue Ivy, on the field of the New Orleans Superdome and home videos of B&J’s wedding. The culmination of a hellish journey through heartbreak, sorrow, and deceit, this song reminds us that true love will ultimately persevere. Definitely the auditory highlight of the album.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “Give you some time to prove that I can trust you again / I’m gonna kiss up and rub up / Kiss up and rub up and feel up on you”
Track 12: “Formation”
This track offers a huge sigh of relief from the audience as we get back to the Beyoncé we know and love: the Houston-raised dance queen who just wants to DANCE. “Formation” is probably one of the only songs that is both politically relevant and hype as f*ck. With serious racial/political imagery (a sinking police cruiser, riot gear, among so much more). In this video in particular, she battles the idea that she and others have taken to “whitewashing” their brand. She does it in typical Beyoncé fashion, though– and that’s just about the only thing we were missing with this album: a dance floor anthem.
Tweet-worthy lyric: “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag”
Ultimately, this album is a deeply personal project for Queen Bey, who is notoriously private when it comes to herself and her family. While I hope this article presented you with enough talking points to get through lunch with your Bey-crazy friends without actually having to listen/watch, I strongly encourage you to. This is the deepest we have ever been allowed into Beyoncé’s world, and we must be sure to savor it.