- Kathleen Maurer
The 5 Year Anniversary of Beyoncé's "Lemonade"
In the wake of Beyoncé's 5 year anniversary of her album Lemonade, people are remembering the soulful songs that made us feel all of the pain, sorrow, and redemption that accompanied Lemonade's story of betrayal and heartbreak.
Beyoncé opens Lemonade with the song "Pray You Catch Me". The a Capella beginning of haunting and labored hums mixed with the vibrating thud of what feels like a string instrument is made terrifying by the heavy and short inhales that is suddenly relieved through a long exhale and a short sound of scurrying. This then falls to the softest of piano as Beyoncé begins with "You can taste the dishonesty, it's all over your breath". A gentle but heavy piano accompanies the realized devastation of infidelity that is communicated throughout the song. The piano then changes to a church organ and the song begins to pick up with strings playing long held out notes in the background. A low but steady bass reminiscent of a heartbeat runs throughout the song as claps pull your attention with every hit. The song then fades into Beyoncé pulling a vocal note down and bringing it back up with relief leading strings to build the song until the final words of the song: "What are you doing to me, my love?".
Her second song, "Hold Up", talks about the anger that is held reminding her lover that whoever he has been messing around with "don't love you like I love you". The song is sprinkled with air horns and African drums that play softly in the background. The biggest part of the song is the leading drums that have a faded effect to them. Beyoncé plays with the tempo in the song to add different variations and then concludes the song with her rendition of "Turn My Swag On".
Her third song "Don't Hurt Yourself" talks about how her lover running around and messing with other girls is the equivalent of playing with fire and she is warning him not to get burned. During her chorus featuring Jack White, Beyoncé talks about how "when you hurt me, you hurt yourself". She says every word with a pretty intense anger and has a choir with high octave runs scattered through the song and a really heavy snare drum and symbol combination through the song. At the end of the song their is a big crescendo of rolling symbols and drums where she explains, "This is your final warning, boy. You know I give you life. If you try this s**t again, you gonna lose your wife".
Track 4, "Sorry", has a synthesized tapping through out the song with staccato beeps. Beyoncé then begins saying "I ain't sorry". Through the song she describes how her lover got the karma that he deserved and she feels no sympathy towards him. She has multiple voices at certain parts of the song that bounce from ear to ear once again claiming "I ain't sorry". The song then slows as she sings about how she is leaving her partner and left a note saying goodbye. The song sounds very mechanical during this part because of the slowed down and almost metal like clinks. Lastly she states "He only want me when I'm not there. He better call Becky with the good hair. He better call Becky with the good hair".
Track 5, "6 inch" ft. The Weeknd, has a super heavy base that bumps the entire song. The song is dark and every beat, lyric, and vocal lingers. It makes the entire song feel like it's crawling. The Weeknd has a short verse that adds some variation to the song but pairs really well since both artists have that sultry feel to their voices. She finishes the song with "You'll always come back to me" and then repeatedly asks someone to "come back" in a breathy and almost exhausted tone.
Track 6, "Daddy Lessons" had a massive contrast from her previous songs in the album bringing us back to her southern roots. The horn blaring intro immediately livens up the dark theme of the album with a passionate tale of the lessons her father gave her. The chorus sings about how she needs to take care of her family and how "he held me in his arms and told me to be strong". The song is then intermissioned with a baritone saxophone solo and goes back to the original southern twang of the strong and metallic guitar and steady bass drum.
Track 7, "Love Drought", talks about how Beyoncé and her lover are in a period of lacking TLC but there is the ability "to stop this love drought". She goes into the lyrics to discuss how both are only human and know that there is still love to have between and for each other. The bass in this song leads the melody and is super heavy with very quick sporadic snares that break up the melodic, echoed, and angelic runs at the end of each phrase of the chorus.
Track 8, "Sandcastles", brings us into the piano heavy and soulful vibe of distraught reminiscence. Beyoncé begins with "we built Sandcastles that washed away". Her lyrics discuss a fight that happened between her and her partner, the things that were destroyed because of it, but also the inability to erase each other out of their lives. A few times in the song she sings, "and I know I promised that I couldn't stay, but every promise don't work out that way". Her story of broken things leads to the hope of a broken promise that allows her to rebuild her relationship.
Track 9, "Forward", shows the turning point of her heartbreak. This song continues the heavy piano that highlights a distorted and low voice proclaiming that they want to move forward with their relationship. The distortion in the voice works to create a haunting and almost traumatic feeling that sucks you in at the end of the song.
Track 10, "Freedom" ft. Kendrick Lamar, pulls the album in an entirely different direction. This song has a full band with marching band snares that make you feel like you are going into war. The inspiring lyrics tells the listener, "freedom, freedom, I can't move, freedom cut me loose. Freedom, freedom where are you cause I need freedom too. I break chains all by myself. Won't let my freedom rot in hell. Imma keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves". Kendrick Lamar rapped for one verse discussing a lot about police brutality and the way that we need to break away from that and fight for the freedom that everyone deserves.
Track 11, "All Night", is probably the best song that Beyoncé has ever produced. This 5 minute finale to the rollercoaster that is infidelity discusses the reparations made in the relationship. Through acceptance of flaws and time to build trust, Beyoncé sings about how she will love her partner "all night long". This song has lagging bass led by a slowly strummed guitar, light angelic strings, uplifting trumpets, and a gentle bass guitar in the background that creates a perfect melody to lift you up but keep you swaying. It truly is the sound of relief and rejoice. By the middle of the song, Beyoncé slows everything down to discuss how "true love is the greatest weapon" and "nothing real can be threatened". She continues to talk about the strengths of love and then leads back into the original melody of the song finishing with a slow fade of strings and the words "how I missed you, my love".
Her last song, "Formation", was the teaser song of the album. She first performed it at the super bowl and this bonus track goes so hard with a bouncing spring sound and heavy bass that rocks you through the song. The lyrics of the song talk about how Beyoncé and her crew are some of the best and always come ready to serve. This song was made to flaunt to.
All in all, I truly believe that this is one of Beyoncé's best albums. I mean the story that she took us through was so good that HBO made a movie out of it. This album won 6 Grammys; the most ever won by a female artist in one night. It is such a good album and anyone that likes Beyoncé will undoubtedly love Lemonade but I think that everyone could appreciate at least one thing about this album.