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The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

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Beyoncé Breaks Records With her Country Album ‘Cowboy Carter’

Beyoncé’s unexpected country album flies to the top of charts

American singer-songwriter Beyoncé arrives on the country charts with her newest genre-bending masterclass “COWBOY CARTER.” This 78-minute, 27-track long project is best described as not only country, not “R&B,” not “dance,” but a “Beyoncé album,” pulling elements from many styles of music and lassoing them together as all her recent albums seem to do. 

Just as the needle hits the record (or play is clicked on Spotify,) “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” pulls you into her world with incredibly harmonized and triumphant vocals to set the tone for what’s to come. The lyrics “Used to say I spoke ‘too country,’ then the rejection came, said I wasn’t country enough,” practically epitomizes what Beyoncé means to get across throughout the record. This is likely referring to her performance at the CMAs in 2016 which resulted in racist backlash, and this opening track perfectly portrays the many emotions Beyoncé felt during this difficult time. “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” takes us to church. Its foregrounding of acoustic instruments tells us that this won’t be your average Beyoncé album. 

After getting this rodeo started, a seamless transition leads us to the next track, “BLACKBIIRD.” 

With an event that most people couldn’t predict, Beyoncé covering the Beatles adds to the overall vibe. As “BLACKBIIRD” is one of 2 covers, along with “JOLENE”, the inclusion of these tracks grounds the project in a sense. They slow down the ride, as they bring a home-like and simple feel to the wild cross-genre experience. 

Prior to the release of the album, listeners could get a taste of what was to come from the singles “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” While “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” is a downright country banger with a modern flare, “16 CARRIAGES ” is more of a power ballad with particular country elements. These 2 tracks create a nice contrast in sound, as well as lyrical matter, which perfectly sets up the approach Beyoncé took with the record. Remaining confident in who she is and what she stands for, but not backing away from mentioning the struggles and imperfections of her life. 

Within this first leg of the album, you’ll find many more strippped-down songs, such as “PROTECTOR,” “MY ROSE,” “DAUGHTER,” and “ALLIGATOR TEARS,” all of which prominently include Beyoncé’s voice and an acoustic guitar, with few extra elements. “PROTECTOR,” is a beautiful ballad dedicated to her children, and “DAUGHTER,” includes an outstanding opera section, which is another curveball Beyoncé throws to keep the audience on their toes. 

Another major factor that plays into the country-ness of the project would be the choice of features. With artists that have already dabbled in the country world, such as Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, Beyoncé is able to further create a perfect balance between styles, with tracks such as “2 MOST WANTED” and “LEVI’S  JEANS.” Their voices complement each other in a unique way, demonstrating a surprising amount of vocal chemistry. Adding country legends, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to the mix is certainly the extra cherry on top. 

Towards the back end of the record is where Beyoncé lets her creative vision run wild, pushing past the limits of genres to form her own. “YA YA,” is a rock anthem. “DESERT EAGLE,” is a funk-oriented jam. “RIIVERDANCE,” is a bluegrass/house mix. “TYRANT,” is a trap banger. “SWEET – HONEY – BUCKIN,” is 3 songs in one. Name another album like this. 

The production of this beast is nothing short of incredible, as it perfectly accompanies Beyoncé’s voice. It does exactly what it needs to do; take the listener on this crazy journey, but not overshadow the reason we’re all here. The interesting approach taken with it provided the project with such a fresh feeling. Leaving much of the vocals dry, with little to no effects such as reverb on them, as well as throwing many random sounds like air horns and crickets in the mix were risky steps that took the project to a unique level. 

Overall, this experience has something for everyone to enjoy, as it moves the genre of country in a new direction. This project has already made history, as Beyoncé became the first black woman to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. 

While many country fans may not like this album, they should at very least appreciate what it is and what it’s doing for the genre. The concept of individuals not referring to this as “country” is not very understandable, since guys like Morgan Wallen or Luke Combs are. Those guys use elements such as trap beats and autotune in the majority of their songs, which are traditionally used in hip-hop or pop, and rarely appear in “COWBOY CARTER.” So where’s the line? 

Beyoncé is turning many young individuals and typical non-country fans onto the genre with this record. She doesn’t need the money. She doesn’t need the attention. Beyoncé is doing it for the love of the sound and the love of the culture, which can be seen clearly throughout the project. There is value to every sound heard, and every word sung. With someone as big as Beyoncé making this creative of an album, it should be no surprise that it’ll be making an appearance at this year’s Grammys, for her first and long overdue, album of the year win.


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About the Contributor
Brandon Purdy
Brandon Purdy, Staff Writer
Brandon Purdy is a sophomore at NAHS. He can be seen playing the drums and guitar, running track and XC, or listening to music. He intends to write music and sports articles for the Wingspan this upcoming school year. His favorite color is purple, and his favorite movie is Cars 1.

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