by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t a huge Beyonce fan back in the pre-2014 days, when the pop diva’s biggest hit was the cheesy bachelorette-party anthem “Single Ladies.” I like my music with a lot of edge, lyrically, musically, and vocally, and while Beyonce’s got the pipes, tracks like “Irreplaceable” didn’t deliver an earth-shattering sonic experience.
My feelings about Bey started to shift when, in 2013, I watched her rock the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show: Here was this powerful mama, flanked by an all-girl rock band, doing her thing with those curves and that voice. Months later, I downloaded “Drunk in Love,” her salacious duet with hubby Jay Z. It’s still one of my favorites.
Fast forward to 2016, when I’m hitting my midlife stride in the thick of marriage and young children — an experience that Beyonce, wife of Jay Z and mama of Blue Ivy, totally gets. As such, “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s 12-track album and one-hour video experience, is as profound and transformative as reviewers like Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield have promised.
Until I heard “Lemonade,” I had no plans to ever download anything by Beyonce, ever. But so many of my friends and musician peers rhapsodized about its profound artistry, seething-wife lyrics, and creative collaborations that I couldn’t help myself.
Kicking off with the etherial, captivating “Pray You Catch Me,” “Lemonade” takes the listener on a journey through anger and redemption (albeit, one that occasionally reminds me of lesser-known artist Imani Coppola). It’s hard to pick the best track, but I’m particularly drawn to “Hold Up,” with its hypnotic tempo and catchy pre-chorus (“Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you … slow down, they don’t love you like I love you…”). My other favorite, so far, is the rock-guitar-heavy Jack White collaboration “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” where she sings (presumably to Jay Z), “Who the fuck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy.”
Beyonce delivers the unexpected with these, as well as the country ditty “Daddy Lessons” and the eerie, trip-hoppy tune “6 Inches,” which features one of my favorite new artists The Weeknd.
While much of “Lemonade” flows with sultry vengeance and feminist undertones, Beyonce makes a powerful nod to racial inequality in “Formation” and the experience of African American women in “Freedom.”
And still, the more I listen, the more I discover. I’ve only owned this record for a few days, and I’ve already listened to it something like six times, each time unearthing some new gem or insight. That’s the mark of great art — you always take away something fresh from every encounter.
So seriously, download “Lemonade” now. You’ll be rockin’ out and hailing this pop-turned-rock-but-still-pop mother for weeks to come.
—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.