Lemonade is Beyonce's sixth studio album that was released on April 23, 2016 by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records.
It was her second visual album following her self-titled 2013 album.
- Pray You Catch Me 3:16
- Hold Up 3:41
- Don't Hurt Yourself (featuring Jack White) 3:54
- Sorry 3:53
- 6 Inch (featuring The Weeknd) 4:20
- Daddy Lessons 4:48
- Love Drought 3:57
- Sandcastles 3:03
- Forward (featuring James Blake) 1:19
- Freedom (featuring Kendrick Lamar) 4:50
- All Night 5:22
- Formation 3:26
On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé released "Formation" free on the music streaming service Tidal and its accompanying music video on her official YouTube account.
The following day, Beyoncé performed "Formation" during her performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.
Immediately after the performance, a commercial aired announcing The Formation World Tour, which kicked off in Miami, Florida on April 27, 2016, with the first pre-sales going on sale just two days after the announcement on February 9, 2016..
Leading up to the tour announcement, Beyoncé was both praised and criticized over her new song and Black Panther-influenced costume for the Super Bowl halftime performance. As a result of this, the hashtags "#BoycottBeyonce" and "#IStandWithBeyonce" began trending on social media platforms such as Twitter.
A group of protesters planned to stage an "anti-Beyoncé" rally outside of the NFL's headquarters in New York City, New York on the day general sale of tickets went for sale, but no protesters showed up and instead dozens of Beyoncé supporters held a rally for her.
"Lemonade" features musicians Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, and bassist Marcus Miller, and sampling from folk music collectors John Lomax, Sr. and his son Alan Lomax on "Freedom".
Beyoncé and her team reference the musical memories of all those periods, including a brass band, stomping blues rock, ultraslow avant-R&B, preaching, a prison song (both collected by John and Alan Lomax), and the sound of the 1960s fuzz-tone guitar psychedelia (sampling the Puerto Rican band Kaleidoscope).
The Washington Post called the album a "surprisingly furious song cycle about infidelity and revenge," referencing the classical compositional genre defined in German lieder by Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms.
The Chicago Tribune described the album as not just a mere grab for popular music dominance, rather it is a retrospective that allows the listener to explore Beyoncé's personal circumstances, with musical tones from the southern United States, a harkening back towards her formative years spent in Texas.
AllMusic wrote that Beyoncé "delights in her blackness, femininity, and Southern origin with supreme wordplay."
According to The A.V. Club, the tracks "encompass and interpolate the entire continuum of R&B, rock, soul, hip hop, pop, and blues", accomplished by a deft precision "blurring eras and references with determined impunity." The Guardian and Entertainment Weekly both noted that the album touches on country.
Entertainment Weekly noticed the use of avant-garde musical elements. Consequence of Sound wrote that the album's genres span "from gospel to rock to R&B to trap."
On the album, Isaac Hayes and Andy Williams are among the sampled artists.
PopMatters noticed how the album was nuanced in its theme of anger and betrayal with vast swathes of the album bathed in political context; however, it is still a pop album at its essence with darker and praiseworthy tones.
Melina Matsoukas (the director of the "Formation" music video) said that Beyoncé invited her to her house in Los Angeles, California, and explained the concept behind Lemonade, stating: "She wanted to show the historical impact of slavery on black love, and what it has done to the black family, and black men and women—how we're almost socialized not to be together."
In an interview with W, Beyoncé's creative director Todd Tourso further explained the concept behind the album, referencing Beyoncé's desire of "placing it in the context of a generational relationship".
The album title "Lemonade" was inspired by Beyoncé's grandmother Agnéz Deréon, as well as her husband Jay-Z's grandmother, Hattie White.
At the end of the song "Freedom", an audio recording of Hattie White heard speaking to a crowd at her 90th birthday party in December 2015 is played.
During the speech, Hattie says: "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."
"Lemonade" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 653,000 album-equivalent units (out of which 485,000 were pure album sales), making it the highest opening-week sales for a female act of the year.
Subsequently, Beyonce broke the record that she previously tied with DMX by becoming the first artist in Billboard chart history to have their first six studio albums debut at #1.
The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA in June of 2019 for shipment of 3 million copies.
"Lemonade" received widespread acclaim from music critics and is also Beyoncé's most critically acclaimed studio album to date.
AllMusic's Andy Kellman felt that "the cathartic and wounded moments here resonate in a manner matched by few, if any, of Beyoncé's contemporaries."
In Spin, Greg Tate wrote that the album "is out to sonorously suck you into its gully gravitational orbit the old fashioned way, placing the burden of conjuration on its steamy witches' brew of beats, melodies, and heavy-hearted-to-merry-pranksterish vocal seductions. In her mastery of carnal and esoteric mysteries, Queen Bey raises the spirits, sizzles the flesh, and rallies her troops."
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that the album "feels like a success" and that Beyoncé sounded "genuinely imperious."
The Daily Telegraph writer Jonathan Bernstein felt it was her strongest work to date and "proves there's a thin line between love and hate."
Nekesa Moody and Mohamad Soliman from The Washington Post called it a "deeply personal, yet ... a bold social and political statement as well".
Writing for The New York Times, Jon Pareles praised Beyoncé's vocals and her courage to talk about subjects that affect so many people, and noted that "the album is not beholden to radio formats or presold by a single".
Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune felt that "artistic advances" seem "slight" in context towards the record's "more personal, raw and relatable" aspects, where it came out as a "clearly conceived" piece of music, meaning it had a "unifying vision" for what may have lent itself to being "a prettily packaged hodgepodge."
Reviewing the album in The Independent, Everett True wrote that it "is fiery, insurgent, fiercely proud, sprawling and sharply focused in its dissatisfaction."
Ray Rahman wrote for Entertainment Weekly that Beyoncé is way "too busy putting out her boldest, most ambitious, best album to date", declaring simply "middle fingers up."
Writing a review for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield opined that Beyonce affirmed her "superhero status" with this album.
Jillian Mapes of Pitchfork wrote that her pursuit of "realness" gives the album a certain "quality to it that also invites skepticism".
In The A.V. Club Annie Zaleski wrote that it was "yet another seismic step forward for Beyoncé as a musician."
Shahzaib Hussain, writing for Clash, stated: "Lemonade is Beyoncé at her most benevolent, and her most unadulterated. Treating her blackness not as an affliction but a celebratory beacon, Lemonade is a long overdue, cathartic retribution."
In the NME, Larry Bartleet said the album was "sweet but with an edge."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that the album "is her most lyrically and thematically coherent effort to date."
Maura Johnston of Time wrote that its tracks were "fresh yet instantly familiar" with an "over-the-top but intimate" sound.
Jamie Milton of DIY wrote that "there's so much more than an enthralling story to draw out of this all-slaying work", where "Beyoncé can count herself as a risk-taker breaking new ground, up there with the bravest."
Exclaim!'s Erin Lowers wrote that "If you've ever been handed lemons, you need Lemonade."
Britt Julious of Consequence of Sound described the album to a "gift" Beyoncé has given to the listener that is "raw yet polished, beautiful yet ugly."
PopMatters writer Evan Sawdey felt few albums could ever be considered "as bold, complex, or resolute as Lemonade."
The BBC's Mark Savage noted that Beyoncé had become an albums artist, with a range extending beyond that of radio play.