LEMONADE is the 6th studio album of Beyoncé. Why devote an article ? Because it is also an album-visual. Kind of a long clip of an hour made up of several videos illustrating the songs of Beyoncé.
We will not review this album from a musical point of view, it is not our role nor in our abilities. What we can judge, is rather in the domain of writing. Not only that of the music and lyrics, but the one that connects all the technical and artistic aspects, the topics covered, the sensual, the intimate. Beyoncé performs with LEMONADE, an exciting work of organization of a work around various components, with its own obsessions.
We could summarize the impressive display of names from the world indie to a classic desire to hype made possible by nice cheque… LEMONADE would, however, not really without a real guideline, to combine the specificities of each author. The very personal story told by Beyoncé uses and adequately cynicism depressed about the relations of men / women of The Weeknd, urban poetry, lobbyist and an intimate, Kendrick Lamar, the rage paradoxically calm and minimalist Jack White, the melancholy of modern James Blake, or even the chaos melodic sound ofAnimal Collective. It is exactly the same cinematically speaking: 7 video artists depict in their own style more or less visual, more or less ostentatious, the songs from the album : Beyoncé already, and then Todd Tourso, Jonas Akerlund, Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, Dikayl Rimmasch, and Mark Romanek. We will not make the inventory of the works and the qualities of these directors, who are very well summarized here by IndieWire (here, and in English)… For all that, this impressive eclecticism allows LEMONADE to embrace a spectrum of socio-cultural broad, stimulating for the imagination, and sometimes even emotionally powerful. Through sets, costumes, scenes, intimate, spectacular or expressionist tones, the aesthetic, the musical moods or visual, LEMONADE mix 250 years of african-american culture (between past slavery and present post-Katrina) to a portrait rather intimate Beyoncé. A mixture that could pass for opportunism if it was not for the fantastic consistency of the whole is revealing gradually, and with intelligence. A consistency that, surprisingly, comes entirely from Beyoncé.
To better consider the task of writing for Beyoncé, it may be interesting to address what appears to be the visual influence major of LEMONADE. Of reasons the most obvious (trees filmed from below, a voice-off of Beyoncé ranting of the/his thoughts on life), to more subtle (titles of chapters, effects, montages precise), LEMONADE goes again and again to this form of contemplation of the world around typical of the cinema of Terrence Malick, conducive to sentimentality and introspection, questioning, and sometimes even to the observation of History. It is precisely here that the personality of the author of Beyoncé gears to provide a second link between all these things.
LEMONADE exists before all, because of a fact a variety of intimate, one-does-can-more common : infidelity. Jay-Z has cheated on Beyoncé.
Except that rather than feeling sorry for herself, or remain a one album revolving around the theme (like for example Kanye West, with the excellent 808’s and Heartbreaks), Beyoncé offers rather a real work of introspection, which can be summarized as :
“he deceived me, I’ve drooled, I’ve hated, I am hated, then I put into perspective, I have forgiven, I am restored and I have taken a new start in my life”.
All the fragility and the genius of the album lies in this “I put” central, which allows you to link the intimate to the universal, and gives at the same time, a consistency to the fantastic eclecticism of the album. In excess of his own feelings of resentment, Beyoncé has managed to turn the attack to her pride and to her femininity, in artistic creation through the work of other artists, but also in political discourse.
Thus, in arriving at the 35th minute of the film that everything makes suddenly sense, when the title of the album, LEMONADE, is explained. It is, in fact, a mantra of Grandma Hattie (the grandmother of JAY-Z), which is sucient to relativize the tragedy of his existence in one sentence :
“I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up.
I was served lemons, but I made lemonade…”
“I’ve had ups and downs in my life, but I’ve always found an inner strength to get myself back on foot. I was served lemons, I made lemonade.”
Grandma Hattie, 90 years old, is the link between all the eras, but also the emotional connection. She has seen and probably participated in many battles, humanistic, societal, feminist, personal. Of international conflicts, the eradication of slavery wherever it may be, of economic crises, the right to vote for women and ethnic minorities, oppression of a racial to natural disasters, putting into perspective the social inequalities, the promise centenary of progressivism, Obama-the president and the disillusionment that accompanied his election. It has certainly also experienced personal tragedies… But that’s it. Everything is in the relativization. From the intimate to the universal. Bringing his own experience to this simple sentence but full of wisdom, Beyoncé puts into perspective in turn.
This sentence, mine of nothing, which is exactly what Beyoncé shows through the mixture of the above-mentioned atmospheres audiovisual, sets, costumes, or thematic component LEMONADE. His film becomes the entertainment that tells a story of love passion and passionate, while being a tool of transmission. Transmission of a cultural memory from one generation to another, by art, the lessons of life, the consciousness of the past. A transmission that can do just this, thanks to love. The only feeling capable of beating the fine drama. We thought LEMONADE égocentré and it is, but an interesting humanism escapes also.
If it is clearly the climax harmonic of LEMONADE, however, there is another moment of great significance, which to him, is the culmination of formal of the video. The segment “SandCastles” filmed by Mark Romanek, the more calm and thoughtful of the whole video, is the one where Beyoncé remembers moments very intimate past with his Jay-Z A time that begins the work of relativization, which will lead to the citation of Grandma Hattie.
In this scene, Beyoncé and Mark Romanek, to reach many and beautiful things. The staging and the aesthetic adopted by the director are the same as in the fantastic Never Let me Go: a photograph resembling an old Polaroid, enjolivant a camera with movements slow and precise. Romanek captures as well, unspeakable things, sensory : the melancholy about a future indistinguishable, to the nostalgia of a time gone by, through this purity of love through a few actions, unique and intimate. The words and the interpretation of Beyoncé (about relativization , of course), then come to make sense of all this emotion.
And then there is another point of connection : Mark Romanek is a fantastic link art to Jay-Z; the director has been able to in the past, to capture with empathy the genius of the rapper with clip 99 problems in 2004, and then in 2014 in filming his performance for Picasso Baby. It seemed logical that Romanek is the witness of the reconciliation of the couple, but especially of the evolution of an artist from a performer-composer talented and ultra-bankable, to a writer sincere to convey a speech as accessible as intelligent and thoughtful and, through his own experience, his obsessions, personal, and artistic ambitions strong.
In short. LEMONADE is a masterpiece not necessarily obvious to consider, because it is necessary to consider it in its ENTIRETY.
Music, videos, and especially, by Beyoncé.
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• Achievement : Beyoncé,s Todd Tourso, Jonas Akerlund, Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, Dikayl Rimmasch, Mark Romanek
• Artists : Beyoncé, James Blake, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Weeknd…
• Main actors : Beyoncé, Jay-Z …
• Country of origin : U. S. A.
• Released : April 25, 2016
• Duration : 57 min
• Distributor : Tidal
• Synopsis : a album visual of Beyoncé