Released at a time when societal norms are being questioned and in the midst of social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, where social injustices are no longer being accepted as things we cannot change, each theme that Beyoncé highlights throughout the album plays namesake for each chapter of her visual album. Notably, Lemonade explores themes like black female empowerment, and as testament to this the album features many famous and influential women of colour, such as Serena Williams, Zendaya, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Amandla Stenberg.
The album also deals with themes like redemption, as this is the title of the album’s last chapter and might just be where the album gets its name from. This chapter opens with a voiceover from Beyoncé in which she uses lemonade, her grandmother’s recipe for the drink, and the process of making it as a metaphor for relationships. “Grandmother, the alchemist, you spun gold out of this hard life, conjured beauty from the things left behind, found healing where it did not live, discovered the antidote in your own kitchen,” she says in the voiceover.
Lemonade is an important album that encourages the listener to engage critically with the themes that are being presented both visually and lyrically. It is an album that speaks to more than just the current state of pop culture. Lemonade is an album that comes at a critical point in the development of how we perceive everyone around us; it humanises one of the biggest celebrities of our time and highlights social issues in the most public way possible.
Lemons are bright in colour but sour on the inside, and perhaps the same can be said for our society.
“Hold up” has established itself as the track of the American summer this year. If one does not base this on the smooth sound and empowering lyrics, then this popularity might be based on the sheer amount of gifs from the video that have taken pride of place on every social media platform this year.
One of the more eyebrow-raising collaborations on the album is definitely the third track, “Don’t hurt yourself”. A mix-match of two seemingly unmatchable genres takes place in the form of unexpectedly distorted rock ‘n’ roll vocals and a subtle through line of drumbeats.
A second distinctly notable track on the album is “Daddy lessons”, which stands out as the first and only Beyoncé country song thus far, brass horns included.