There’s so much that is great about Beyoncé’s new visual album, “Lemonade.” The magical hour-long HBO special dropped on Saturday night — and with it our jaws and hearts. Like the self-titled “Beyoncé” before it, “Lemonade” is not beholden to any industry standard for success (we were this close to actually paying for Tidal before the album miraculously hit iTunes this morning). Bey’s tour de force is more a narrative than a singles-driven compilation. (“Formation,” the final song on the album, isn’t even in the extended video.)
The film-cum-album takes the genre of music videos to new artistic heights, uniting its vignette-slash-songs with compelling spoken word by Somali-British writer and poet Warsan Shire, voiced by Bey. As we progress through intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability, reformation, forgiveness, resurrection, hope and redemption, so many facets of the experience leave us in awe.
There is the music — Beyoncé showcases her versatility with everything from heart-pounding blues-rock to country bop to melodic R&B tracks, breaking out at one point a brass band and another a piano Bey plays herself (there’s nothing she can’t do). Then there were the collaborations — Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance on “Freedom,” Jack White chimes in on “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” James Black, master of slow-motion ballads, shows up on “Pray You Catch Me” and “Forward.” We mustn’t forget the cameos — Beasts of the Southern Wilde’s Quvenzhané Wallis, Serena Williams, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya, “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Winnie Harlow and Jay-Z all grace the screen — though most applaud-inducing are the appearances by Sybrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden and Gwen Carr (Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s mothers, respectively).
The list of praiseworthy features goes on and on: Beyoncé’s intimate lyrics (say it ain’t so, Jay), the stunning cinematography, the overt cultural messages of black female vulnerability and empowerment. But let’s pause for a moment and consider the drool-worthy fashion.
We have stylist Marni Senofonte to thank for the spectacular wardrobe choices, notably the canary yellow, many-ruffled Roberto Cavalli gown paired with Saint Laurent platforms, Bey’s many badass Southern belle looks, including but not limited to that geometrically gifted Nicolas Jebran dress; a standout floor-length Hood By Air fur coat underscored by a gray Yeezy crop top and leggings, in the lingerie category a glimmering Yousef Al Jasmi bodysuit and Madonna-esque Zana Bayne bra and, finally, her many gilded headpieces, each fit for a queen.
If you haven’t yet enjoyed the refreshing, sugary fruits of Bey’s (and her extensive team’s) labor that is “Lemonade,” we implore you to interrupt your grind immediately and partake.