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The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

COWBOY CARTER: Is Beyoncé Going Country?

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Beyoncé released her new album, “Cowboy Carter,” on March 29.

Yee-haw! Beyoncé saddled up and dropped the reins with her latest musical venture, the country-inspired album “COWBOY CARTER,” released on March 29. I was excited about this album because it followed Beyoncé’s 2022 dance album “RENAISSANCE,” which I believe to be one of her best albums of all time.

When Beyoncé announced her two new singles, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” in a commercial aired at the Super Bowl, the Beehive (Beyoncé’s fan base) was shaken by the country influence embedded in the songs’ names and lyrics. However, this country’s influence left many fans skeptical about what the album could entail. After all the controversy about whether the album would fall in the country genre, Beyoncé́ told us, in the most Sasha Fierce terms, “This ain’t a country album. It’s a Beyoncé́ album.”

Just 48 hours before the big album drop, Beyoncé sent shockwaves through the internet with her surprise Instagram post that unveiled the tracklist for “COWBOY CARTER.” Fans were stunned as they counted 27 songs on the poster, each with unique and intriguing titles such as “SPAGHETTI” and “SWEET★HONEY★ BUCKIIN.’” This unexpected move from Queen Bey sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among her millions of followers worldwide who wondered if “COWBOY CARTER” would become Beyoncé’s most iconic album yet.

Beyoncé kicked off the album with one of my favorite tracks, “AMERICAN REQUIEM,” an anthem of rebellion against all of her haters. Beyoncé discreetly nods to her 2016 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards performance, referring to comments that were reportedly made in the audience as she was performing. “It’s a lot of talkin’ goin’ on while I sing my song,” she states in the chorus. “Can you hear me? I said, do you hear me?” She continues to ask these questions over a blur of Western guitars and gospel-esque belting.

Then, Beyoncé covers the incredible song “BLACKBIRD,” originally written and sung by the Beatles. Her angelic voice keeps the essence of the original song but puts her R&B twist onto it. However, I don’t think it matched the energy of “AMERICAN REQUIEM” and it felt like a letdown after such a powerful opening.

One of the standout surprises on “COWBOY CARTER” is Beyoncé’s rendition of the timeless country hit “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. I’ll admit, when I first learned that Beyoncé was taking on this iconic song, I had worries about her ambitious choice and feared it might not live up to expectations. However, Beyoncé once again proved that no matter the challenge, she can deliver a captivating song.

Yet not everyone was won over, as some listeners took issue with Beyoncé’s alterations to the original lyrics. A controversial moment in the song was when Beyoncé warned Jolene not to pursue her husband, Jay-Z, harkening back to the infidelity themes of her “Lemonade” album, notably referencing “Becky with the good hair.”

Freshman Sara Cutinho said, “I preferred the original ‘Jolene,’ and I wasn’t fond of the slang she incorporated into the song.”

I must admit, I agree that certain songs are too iconic to tamper with, and the changes made by Beyoncé were unconventional. However, it’s Beyoncé we’re talking about, and her ability to push boundaries often results in success.

Beyoncé then guides her listeners through her career and early childhood with “16 CARRIAGES” and “PROTECTOR,” in which Rumi Carter asks Beyoncé to sing a lullaby to her. Both songs’ emotional lyrics balance perfectly with Beyoncé’s flawless tone.

Then we lead into one of the most famous moments, “SMOKE HOUR.” Fans, including myself, expected this to be a song and were shocked when they heard 90-year-old country legend Willie Nelson. “Welcome to the Smoke Hour on KNTRY Radio Texas,” Nelson begins, after what sounds like him lighting up and smoking. “You know my name, no need to know yours. Now, for this next tune, I want you all to sit back, inhale, and go to that good place your mind likes to wander off to. And if you don’t wanna go, go find yourself a jukebox. Thank you.”

After this smoke hour with Willie Nelson, Beyoncé leads her listeners into one of the most popular but controversial songs, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” Its playful tune and authentic sound brought it to the Billboard Hot 100 and became Beyoncé’s ninth solo #1 single. But many people (including myself) don’t believe these are Beyoncé’s most poetic lyrics and prefer the other tracks. (This also could be a result of how overplayed it is on TikTok and the radio.)

“II MOST WANTED” and “LEVII’S JEANS” are two duet songs with Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Now these two tracks are some of the best duets Beyoncé has ever done. Sophomore Tomas Mendoza Peña agreed, saying, “Both Beyoncé and Miley’s voices harmonize in a way that I did not expect on ‘II MOST WANTED.’ ‘LEVII’S JEANS’ was even better to me, [and] Post Malone adding just the right touch to the song [was] something I was not expecting.”

“TYRANT” kicks off with Dolly Parton’s iconic acrylic nails tapping out the rhythm, then transitions to a more eerie vibe for the chorus. The verse returns to the haunting feel of “DAUGHTER,” with Beyoncé’s voice adding a touch of concern, yet still keeping listeners hooked through her stellar riffs and runs.

Freshman Matthew Hart said, “One of my favorite songs is “DAUGHTER” because it’s talking about her dad, and Beyoncé’s phenomenal opera in the later parts of the song captured the story and made it one of the most unique songs on the album.”

As the iconic album nears its conclusion, Beyoncé continues to dazzle fans, saving the best for last with the tracks “RIVERDANCE” and “II HANDS II HEAVEN.” “RIVERDANCE” captivates with its infectious tune and repetitive lyrics, beckoning listeners to their feet, eager to dance along. Seamlessly transitioning into my personal favorite from the album, “II HANDS II HEAVEN” begins softly, gradually building momentum over its five-minute, 40-second duration as Beyoncé delivers poignant religious verses. The chorus, in particular, shines brilliantly, leaving an indelible impression.

“COWBOY CARTER” stands as one of the most powerful albums across all music genres. Beyoncé showcases her unparalleled talent once again, leaving listeners awestruck. With each release, she effortlessly surpasses her previous accomplishments. This album in particular is a testament to her boundless creativity and artistry. It’s not just an album; it’s a masterpiece. Undoubtedly, “COWBOY CARTER” earns a near-perfect rating of 9.5/10, solidifying its place as a flawless addition to Beyoncé’s iconic discography.

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About the Contributor
Myles Antelis
Myles Antelis, Staff Writer
Myles Antelis ('27) is delighted to be able to write for The Forum this year. He is interested in covering all of Latin’s news and making entertaining articles for the Latin community to read. The Forum has been a wonderful place for him to express his passion for writing with others. In his spare time, he enjoys working on his fashion design creations, hanging out with his friends, and running.

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  • G

    Gwen LevyApr 15, 2024 at 11:31 pm

    Your insightful review in the Forum
    Certainly makes the reader want to listen to the album… I am going to tomorrow.
    Looking forward to your next assignment.
    Great job!!! Gwen Levy

  • J

    jennifer AntelisApr 15, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Phenomenal review- I am inspired to listen to the entire album now!! Well done.