Beyoncé launches new 'visual album' Lemonade on HBO

Sixth album is broadcast in full on Saturday night, with a video for each song, and then made available on streaming service Tidal

The surprise of releasing an album with no warning is perhaps a slightly overdone trick now, but the news that Beyoncé released her sixth solo album, called Lemonade, on Saturday night still managed to be the kind of event that confirms her status as arguably the world’s leading female pop star.

The album was debuted at 9pm EST on Saturday night on the cable channel HBO. It took the form of a succession of music videos linked by poetry by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. The directors of the videos included heavyweights like Mark Romanek. By the end of the hour-long broadcast, the album was available to stream on Tidal, backed by Jay-Z, Beyoncé’s husband.


— Alex Needham (@alexneedham74) April 24, 2016

However, the state of the pair’s marriage is sure to come under scrutiny given the angry tone of the first few songs. The first video, for Pray You Catch Me, saw Beyoncé walking down the street and smashing up cars with a baseball bat, singing about a man who had betrayed her trust. Musically, the album is eclectic, moving into rock, country and jazz in places and including collaborations with Jack White, Diplo, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar and the Weeknd. Meanwhile the title seems inspired by the old adage, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”

Lemonade also demonstrates Beyoncé’s increasing willingness and desire to express her political views. One of the films for Lemonade depicted the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin holding photographs of their sons. The album is also strongly feminist in tone, one song declaring “women don’t quit on themselves”.

Too much beauty in one photo. #BlackExcellence ❤️ #LEMONADE

— Beyoncé Reigns (@BeyonceReigns) April 24, 2016

The arrival of Lemonade didn’t produce quite the same shockwaves as the release of Beyoncé, her previous album, on 13 December 2013. There had been no warning of that album, and for it to arrive – like the latest album, with a complete accompanying set of music videos – felt like a seismic event for the music industry. Though albums had been released with little or no notice, never before had an artist with as much commercial power as Beyoncé been able to release an album with no warning to complete surprise.

This time, however, there had been hints that something was happening. First, Beyoncé released a new single, Formation, in February – her first new music since the 2013 album – then performed it at the Super Bowl halftime show. If it were possible for Beyoncé to raise her profile any higher, the Super Bowl show did it: her performance, a vigorous spectacle that paid tribute to the Black Panthers, of a song whose lyrics and video were clearly linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, provoked anger among police unions, some of whom threatened to withdraw security services from her concerts.

That tour – the second clue that an album was imminent – begins on 27 April in Miami and comes to the UK at the end of June, with stadium shows in Sunderland, Cardiff, Manchester, London and Glasgow. It is part of a cluster of Beyoncé activity that also suggested there would be music coming imminently. Last week she launched a range of fashion sportswear, Ivy Park, selling through Top Shop in the UK. On Monday she released a trailer for Lemonade, a mysterious “world premiere event” that will be broadcast on the US network HBO on Saturday.

The surprise release of her last album did not harm it commercially. Beyoncé entered the US Billboard chart at No 1, and became the fastest-selling album on iTunes worldwide. It’s estimated total sales of 5m beat the 3m copies sold of its predecessor, 4.

Track listing for Beyoncé’s new album, Lemonade


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'Beyoncé at her best' – fans review the visual album Lemonade
Everyone is talking about Beyoncé’s new album and its celebration of black womanhood. What do her fans think?

Sarah Marsh and Guardian readers

27, Apr, 2016 @11:56 AM

Article image
Beyoncé announces new album, Renaissance
The apparent follow-up to 2016’s Lemonade is due for release on 29 July

Laura Snapes

16, Jun, 2022 @8:30 AM

Article image
Beyoncé stokes anticipation with Lemonade trailer
The mysterious HBO project, which airs at 9pm on Saturday, is the latest release to prove that the pop queen knows how to entice her fans

Amber Jamieson

18, Apr, 2016 @5:32 PM

Article image
Best albums of 2016: No 1 Lemonade by Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s vivid discourse on infidelity and race – with equally brilliant film accompaniment – was lacerating, astute and emphatically disruptive, turning her from mere pop superstar into an avenging angel

Kitty Empire

16, Dec, 2016 @7:29 AM

Article image
'Beyoncé is not a woman to be messed with' – Lemonade review
Beyoncé’s imperious sixth album sees her turn her attention to her marriage, with witheringly powerful results

Alexis Petridis

25, Apr, 2016 @1:46 PM

Article image
Beyoncé breaks chart record as each track on Lemonade reaches top 100
Singer becomes the first woman to have 12 songs in the rundown simultaneously, beating Taylor Swift’s record of 11

Guardian music

04, May, 2016 @8:41 AM

The debt Beyoncé owes visual artists

Alex Needham: The video for Run the World (Girls) recalls the work of South African photographer Pieter Hugo. But is it homage or appropriation?

Alex Needham

20, May, 2011 @4:12 PM

Article image
Beyoncé reveals African collaborators for new album The Lion King: The Gift
R&B star announces numerous African pop and rap stars on album out Friday, as well as Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams and daughter Blue Ivy

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

16, Jul, 2019 @2:40 PM

Article image
Coachella 2018 lineup announced, headlined by Beyoncé and Eminem
The Californian music festival will also feature the Weeknd, David Byrne, Cardi B and dozens more pop and rap stars

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

03, Jan, 2018 @9:56 AM

Article image
Beyoncé and Jay-Z release surprise album Everything is Love
Singer announces nine-track collaboration with her husband, released on Tidal

Laura Snapes

16, Jun, 2018 @10:56 PM