McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Review | Beyonce’s new album is different in a good way

“Cowboy Carter” is different from her usual style, but is refreshing in a way the pop scene needed
John Katsilometes / Las Vegas Review-Journal / TNS
An image from Beyoncé’s concert at Allegiant Stadium on Aug. 26, 2023, in Las Vegas.

Beyonce’s new album came out on Mar. 29, bringing a new style of music to her discography. Many have been skeptical due to the country-pop sound of the album, despite Beyonce herself not considering her new work to be part of the country genre.

“COWBOY CARTER” kicks off with the opening song, “American Requiem.” Beyonce seems to have already prepared to face the criticism that she has been met with, since many have been skeptical about the fact that she is a black woman producing music with a more country sound. She addresses the fact that many may see her as “not country enough,” despite being from Texas and growing up in a very country music heavy area. She tells a story of how she has gotten to this point in her career, saying that she has earned her place, earned the right to experiment with her sound.

The next song, “Blackbird” may stand out to most, because it is a cover. The original song was released by The Beatles in 1968, making it instantly recognizable to many people’s ears. Beyonce does a wonderful job of covering the song, her well-rounded vocals doing The Beatles justice.

“16 Carriages,” one of 3 pre-release singles, is the next song on the album. It tells a story of struggle and hard work, one sung as a ballad. Beyonce encompasses life working hard for everything, all to survive. The story is about being forced to grow up at a young age, having to learn to provide way too soon. It is a story that many people in many different situations can empathize with, making it hit close to home.

“Texas Hold ‘Em,” another pre-release and the most popular song on the album at the moment, stands out as a song to dance to, rather than standing out as a story. The beat of the song is very catchy, and Beyonce’s amazing vocals make the song even more satisfying to listen to. The song definitely has a large country influence, and it can be heard from the first note. Beyonce does an amazing job of putting her own spin on the country-pop style of music.

A few songs later, Dolly Parton is introduced in one of the intermission-sounding pieces. The song that follows is all too familiar to country music fans. Beyonce puts a more modern spin on Parton’s original, “Jolene.” The way that she sings the song and changes the lyrics is to be expected of Beyonce, adjusting “Please don’t take him just because you can,” to “Don’t take the chance because you think you can.” Just by changing the lyrics throughout the whole song slightly, “Jolene” changes from a song of sadness to one of power. Beyonce puts Jolene in her place, rather than feeding into her ego. With her consistently outstanding vocals, Jolene definitely received Beyonce’s warning with this song.

Beyonce collabed with Miley Cyrus on “II Most Wanted.” This song could be interpreted multiple ways, but to most it will likely sound like a conversation between two best friends, or in this case, ride-or-dies. This song speaks of wanting to be the shotgun rider for the other, meaning wanting to protect the other from harm. This is something that many best friends can relate to.

The next songs that tend to stand out are “YA YA” and “SWEET HONEY BUCKIN’.” They definitely lean more into the pop side of this album’s style, having a more modern sound that will appeal to many pop music fans, but may fall differently on country music fan’s ears. These songs have a more of a rap-sound, something that would be more likely to be played in a party setting than on a daily basis.

Overall, “COWBOY CARTER” is an almost refreshing new addition to the pop scene, bringing more variety, since some music is starting to sound all the same these days. The 27 songs in the album may not appeal to all, but listeners will never get bored. The stories portrayed in Beyonce’s songs are not only relatable, but they hit close to home as well, widening the audience that these new songs could appeal to.

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