- - Record of the Year, "Formation"
- - Album of the Year
- - Song of the Year, "Formation"
- - Best Pop Solo Performance, "Hold Up"
- - Best Rock Performance, "Don't Hurt Yourself" (feat. Jack White)
- - Best Urban Contemporary Album
- - Best Rap/Sung Performance, "Freedom" (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- - Best Music Video, "Formation"
- - Best Music Film, "Lemonade"
No slick intro y'all. I've been waiting too long for this one.
"Pray You Catch Me" opens things up with some vocals that just slightly bring in the sound, easing you into the album. Kevin Garrett spoke about this being an incredibly honest track when he talked ot Billboard about the creation, where Beyonce's voice seemed to be the last component. Really interesting way to begin an album, as normally the soul-bearing is saved for later one. But, much like the video, "Hold Up" dives more into things, almost giving a middle finger to the attempt at being what the world wanted and stand up for what you are.
Now, I'll admit that I haven't seen the HBO special - I'm getting most of my visuals (and music for that matter, yay for exclusive agreements...), but I'm doing the best I can. This first video I'm seeing is the one I think everyone had been talking about - Bey beating the crap out of things with a baseball bat, not hiding anymore, and, like I said, non-apologetically being herself. This might not be the beautiful voice that you're used to, taking on a husky, almost growling tone, but like I said - we don't get an opinion here, or at least one that she cares about.
I was most excited to see a Jack White collaboration in here with "Don't Hurt Yourself." What everyone says is true - you can absolutely hear the Jack White influence here (not to mention some lines that make you wonder how things are at home for the queen and king). It's a really different collaboration and shows kind of new sides of both artists. She straddles the lines between R&B and rock, with a genre sort of hard to pin down. "Sorry" goes back into the R&B mode completely though. The beat alone does it, while she stays pretty original in the production.
"6 Inch" features The Weeknd - and their voices work great together. But holy crap the beginning of this song is kind of terrifying. I get it, you can do anything you want because you're Queen Bey, but this is really intense. I think it's about here I'm having the realization I should watch that HBO special, because listening on a track by track basis might very well give me nightmares.
Okay, well, maybe not this one. "Daddy Lessons" is how Beyonce proves she can touch just about any genre and make it work. She teams up with The Dixie Chicks for this one (as you may have seen on the CMAs this year). It's a Louisianna inspired sound with some southern inspiration all-around. I will not be ashamed if this one becomes my easy favorite on this album.
We go back to the 'regular' sound with "Love Drought" which is apparently aimed at Parkwood and lying label execs. The explanation, much like the video on its own, is confusing as hell. "Sandcastles" tones it back down a bit, with gospel inspired lyrics and sound. It's emotional and probably the song most befitting the label of ballad on the album, though "Forward" seems to be close as well. This one was written by James Blake, who mentioned that Blue Ivy was even singing along in the studio to this short tune.
"Freedom" brings us another Grammy nomination, and features Kendrick Lamar. I don't normally let other people describe music on my behalf, but Pitchfork may have gotten it right, with editor Britt Jullious commenting "After songs of paranoia, anger, and revenge, we finally get a song that speaks truth to Beyoncé’s deep well of feelings. Bathed in psychedelic, synthetic organs and a propulsive drum beat, the track cuts straight, providing an alternative narrative of personal redemption. It is also the explanatory work on Lemonade." Hey, let's not deny the 'experts.' Personally this is much more along the lines of what I was hoping to hear.
"All Night" seems to evoke the reconciliation of whatever totally fell apart in the relationship on this album. It's more of a somber, sweet song, which we didn't get a ton of throughout this album experience. But that seems to be what she was going for - an experience, not just a selection of songs.
And with that, we're on the last and most well-known track, "Formation." I don't think I've actually heard this since the Super Bowl. I think I liked it better then. Okay, hold out girl. This is Beyonce - it's got to get good. This is a theme song about (I love this word) a "Texasbama" girl.
- "Daddy Lessons"
Look, I'm with y'all - she can do no wrong. This album asn't wrong. It was just different. And tha'ts just fine. There was something for everyone here though, and kuddos to pulling that off. Massive respect, and no surprises.