Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' Still Has Us Talking
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And speaking of an aspirational (ph) spirit...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL THE SINGLE LADIES")
BEYONCE: (Singing) All the single ladies (all the single ladies), all the single ladies (all the single ladies), all the single ladies (all the single ladies), all the single ladies now put your hands up.
MARTIN: That's a little old-school Beyonce for you there. But in her new album "Lemonade," Beyonce inspires to reach new territory. There is a surprising range of musical genres, like this rock-infused track "Don't Hurt Yourself," featuring guitars Jack White.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T HURT YOURSELF")
BEYONCE: (Singing) When you play me, you play yourself. Don't play yourself. When you lie to me, you lie to yourself. You only lying to yourself. When you love me...
MARTIN: Here to talk about how Beyonce's album blurs the lines of music genres today is Emilee Lindner, senior editor at Fuse, the digital music and culture brand (unintelligible) the Fuse television network. She's in New York. Welcome, thanks for joining us.
EMILEE LINDNER: Hey, thanks for having me.
MARTIN: So we know that Beyonce isn't the first artist who's experimented with different sounds and genre. But do you see a movement among artists like her right now?
LINDNER: Definitely. I think that with, you know, the Internet being what it is and all the access that we have to music, I think that artists are kind of straying away from being in a specific genre because they know that people are just going to listen to whatever they can because we have so much available to us now.
MARTIN: Do you think - and I was wondering if this is something that you get to do when you reach a certain level. Like, I think maybe people know that Taylor Swift, of course, started in what was called country, has moved into pop. Like, Justin Bieber's moved into dance music. And I'm just wondering, do you think that this is something that you kind of get to do as a privilege when you get to a certain level of fame?
LINDNER: I think a certain extent. Like, for Beyonce, it took her a while to get here. I remember in 2013 when she dropped "Bow Down" and had, like, this chopped and screwed beat. And everyone was like what - what is this, Beyonce? What did you do?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOW DOWN - I BEEN ON")
BEYONCE: (Singing) I've been on, I've been on. I've been. Tell me who's goin' to take me off, take me off...
LINDNER: Up until that point, she had done, you know, the R & B ballads. It wasn't until her fifth album, the self-titled one, where she started to branch out a little bit. And I think that's because she had to establish herself first and her sound, like, coming out of Destiny's Child, she had to show people what she was all about.
MARTIN: Let me play another example of a song from "Lemonade." Here's her song "Daddy Lessons."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DADDY LESSONS")
BEYONCE: (Singing) With his gun and his head held high he told me not to cry. Oh, my daddy said shoot. Oh, my daddy said shoot. With his right hand on his rifle, he swore it on the Bible. My daddy said shoot. Oh, my daddy said shoot.
MARTIN: You know, I have to note that there was some debate in the country music scene about whether this is country or not. I was wondering what you made of that.
LINDNER: I thought that was a little ridiculous. And I think it's kind of racist, honestly because if you were to put that song on, like, any other country album - artist's album, it would be a country song. But just because, like, she's Beyonce and she is an established artist in R & B, people don't see it that way. It's so strange.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DADDY LESSONS")
BEYONCE: (Singing) Daddy...
MARTIN: You know, you wrote a piece about this, and I found - you talked about how as humans we crave labels. We want to sort everything into boxes. Do consumers really care about how an artist or album is labeled, or is this really more of a function of the way the industry is used to conducting business?
LINDNER: I don't think that the average consumer cares that much. Like, they're not going out and saying I'm a hip-hop fan. Like, nobody really says that that much anymore. The people who are actually still caring about the big names like hip-hop and rock are the people marketing the music and award shows.
MARTIN: Let me play one more thing here from "Lemonade." You know, Beyonce has Grammy winners like Jack White, we just mentioned, and rapper Kendrick Lamar featured in - on the album. She even raps a little bit herself. This is from "Hold Up."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD UP")
BEYONCE: (Singing) Let's imagine for a moment that you never made a name for yourself or mastered wealth. They had you labeled as a king. Never made it out the cage, still out there moving in them streets, never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets. Would they be down to ride? No.
MARTIN: She's won 20 Grammys so far but always in the R&B category. Do you think that with "Lemonade" she might scoop up a win in, say, country or rock with his album?
LINDNER: I'm anticipating it because Jack White is a Grammy darling, so is Kendrick Lamar. And I think that they'll kind of help sway the Recording Academy a little bit. It will be interesting to see what happens.
MARTIN: We'll see - but OK, so unfair, I'm going to ask, do you have a favorite cut on "Lemonade?"
LINDNER: Yes, "All Night." I think it's so beautiful, just the production, the horns, that bass going crazy underneath there, and then just the overall tone of the song where she's coming to terms with what has happened with her marriage. It's just so beautiful.
MARTIN: OK, great. That was Emilee Lindner, who is a senior editor at the music and culture site Fuse. Emilee, thanks so much for speaking with us.
LINDNER: Yeah, thanks for having me again.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL NIGHT")
BEYONCE: (Singing) Love all night long. Sweet love all night long...
MARTIN: For Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. You can follow us on Twitter @npratc or follow me @NPRMichel. And speaking of Twitter, you can still tweet to poems to #NPRpoetry. We might not get them on till next year. But until then, let's go out on just a couple more, like this one from Thomas Wagner.
(Reading) For a full minute, my haiku topped Twitter feed. Fame is so fleeting.
(Reading) It took days2write & it is so wrong2me 2BTwitterized.
And here's another one from @Dumb_Poetry.
(Reading) Shook the hand of disaster, kissed the cheek of fortune, slipped away, like a summer rain.
If you think you're going to miss these as much as I am, check out the roundup of our April Poetry Month at npr.org, where you can hear some of the poems we featured on air this month read by their Twitter authors. And a big thank to everybody who participated. We are back next weekend. Until then, thank you for listening, and we hope you have a great week.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL NIGHT")
BEYONCE: (Singing) Kiss up and rub up and feel up... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.