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by Beyoncé

Released April 23, 2016 via Parkwood Entertainment / Columbia Records

Reviewed April 14, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Freedom (65%), Formation (50%), Pray You Catch Me (25%), Hold Up (25%), Don’t Hurt Yourself (25%)

What often goes unspoken in the conversation surrounding Lemonade is what an absolutely massive artistic undertaking it shakes out to be. Beyond it being a multimedia experience equipped with movie-quality visual counterparts to every song, Beyoncé’s sixth album documents and portrays years of emotional and psychological crisis that ends in therapeutic reconciliation. Conceptually, Lemonade feels somewhat a modern shade of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, and paints the anguish of a marriage on its fringes through a rise and fall of emotional projections that imply a bit of chronology. However, Beyoncé goes a step further, bearing even her ugliest or most vulnerable feelings right alongside her most beautiful and empowering ones, thus completing the full spectrum of emotions associated with mending a broken heart. For its emotional depth and variety of pace, style, and vigor, Lemonade is an impenetrable classic and a rare showcase of authenticity by a star of Beyoncé’s stature. – DeVan (10/10)

Divulging personal information that has largely been kept close to the chest is not easy. Doing so to millions of fans at once is even more daunting. But Beyoncé can quite literally do anything she wants. Lemonade is a surprisingly concise narrative of her own firsthand account of emotional abuse, betrayal, and personal growth. Beyond its thematic values, it also serves as a musically diverse and appropriately shifting array of sounds across the tracklist. Songs like “Hold Up” and “All Night” generally feature warm and uplifting tones, but are heavily juxtaposed in their lyrics about distrust, a breach in loyalty, and ultimately dealing with those emotions even following resolution. “Sandcastles” is a track mostly devoid of instruments—save for a lone piano and a chorus—but Beyoncé’s voice is so powerful and evocative that it doesn’t require much help. “Hurt Yourself,” “Freedom,” and “Formation” are the moments of fiery energy and confidence that signal climactic moments of fight or flight, self-discovery, and strength. And she hits all these marks to a T, never once providing a subpar performance or allowing a moment without reflection. No, we haven’t all been cheated on by Jay-Z, but everyone has experienced betrayal, the uncomfortable combination of heartbreak and anger, and the navigation of self-love that accompanies. And on Lemonade, Beyoncé captures those tender emotions in the most strikingly beautiful and passionately raw way a megastar possibly could. – Pax (9.6/10)

Before the release of Lemonade, Beyoncé had formed a seemingly impenetrable “Queen Bey'' persona that made her seem larger than life, especially with some of her biggest singles being empowering anthems like “Single Ladies” and “Run The World.” That persona is still there and she is still one of the more larger-than-life pop stars out—and while she had shown some vulnerability before (especially on “Heaven” and “Blue” off Beyoncé), it’s nothing compared to what she did here. Throughout the album, you see her progress emotionally, starting out a mess and practically going through the five stages of grief. We see the woman behind the persona fighting to gain her confidence back after a traumatic event. She doesn’t just cover a range of emotions, but a range of musical styles, hopping from genre to genre like it’s nothing. Thematically, there’s not much separating “Don’t Hurt Yourself” from an early Bey song like “Irreplaceable,” but she had never previously tried her hand at metal and we’ve never seen her that angry before. Being cheated on is something that can easily squeeze the life out of you, but Beyoncé took that experience and made Lemonade. – Alan (8.9/10)

DeVán: 10/10 | Victoria:10/10 | Pax: 9.6/10 | Cam: 9/10 | Daniel: 9/10

Hadley: 9/10 | Alan: 8.9/10 | Jared: 8.5/10 | Dominick: 8.2/10 | Enth: 8/10


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