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Beyoncé Gets Personal With Lemonade

Photo: StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.
Beyoncé fever reached an unsustainable pitch when Lemonade finally went live on HBO Saturday night. The Beyhive was buzzing in the Twitterverse and most people were barely able to contain themselves.

Lemonade revealed itself slowly. Desolate scenes of an empty field and the ruins of a masonry fort with a long-dry moat. Viewers wondered: Is this a movie? Is it an hour-long concept video? It turns out Lemonade is a visual album, held together with a narrative that played out in vivid imagery and genre-bending (and crossing) music.

The hour-long album release was broken into 11 separate sections, each with its own theme, both narratively and visually. The themes recalled the stages of grief, but instead tracked what appeared to be the discovery and aftermath of infidelity. With each new theme came a new song.

Speculation ran rampant throughout the special: Is this a prelude to a divorce for one of pop culture's highest profile couples? Is Beyoncé dealing with her complicated relationship with her father and Destiny’s Child manager, Mathew Knowles? Clearly, the songs are emotional and the themes, ranging from "Denial" and "Anger" to "Forgiveness" and "Resurrection," point to something personal and intimate.

Some questions might have been answered when Jay Z appeared while his wife sang of broken promises. The camera shots were tight close-ups of the couple intertwined. Jay Z’s wedding band was clearly visible. The songs that follow feature a happy couple and a happy family, including little Blue Ivy. If Lemonade is autobiographical, it seems that Beyoncé and Jay Z worked through their issues before her Super Bowl appearance.

Lemonade isn’t just about Beyoncé and her family. Perhaps the most moving moment came when the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown appeared holding pictures of their sons, symbols of not only the Black Lives Matter movement, but also of personal loss for those who loved them.

Some familiar faces and voices also showed up for the special. Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar lent their musical talents to the album. Tennis superstar Serena Williams (and several of her sisters) and Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis made appearances, as well. There were also cameos from Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya, and Chloe and Halle Bailey.

No doubt Lemonade is probably already on heavy repeat all over the world. Beyoncé proved again that she is an artist that can cross genres, mixing hip-hop, country, and New Orleans jazz. One of the few, if not the only, people who can pull off an hour-long album release in prime time, she sent a strong message about truth, power, and love.