Is it really a surprise that Beyoncé released a new album this week? Seriously, real fans have been waiting for this moment for months. In fact, they’ve anticipated it because it’s been almost exactly two years since the Lemonade album and just under a year since Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s joint album, The Carters. So basically, it is time. And although fans understand Beyoncé is a wife and mother now, they know her as the consummate entertainer who needs to create. True fans could sense a new Beyoncé album on the horizon because they’ve calculated the amount of time since her last solo album, noticed an increase in Bey’s social media posts, are informed about the Netflix documentary, and knows she loves her Beyhive too much to keep them waiting
But this live Homecoming is quite the surprise…
When Beyoncé performed at Coachella, a six day over two weekends music festival in the California dessert, last April, her two-hour set was live-streamed and the world literally stopped to watch – like she told us to during the show, which means we’ve seen it. Not only have we seen it, but the Netflix Homecoming documentary means we can see it again. Any expectations of a new album certainly didn’t include the release of music that has been heard before.
Beyoncé always delivers something new while reinventing the music industry for every other artist. From being the first artist to secretly drop a digital album accompanied by full length videos for every song, to stealing the Superbowl when she joined Coldplay and Bruno Mars on stage only to announce the Formation world tour before the album was released. Beyoncé continuously shocks the world, and her fans are never disappointed. So of course, Beyoncé’s decision to release a live album of the Coachella Homecoming performance is nothing short of genius, because Homecoming: The Live Album is simply amazing.
Think about it…
Beyoncé’s best songs, and even a few Destiny’s Child hits, neatly packaged into just under two hours of Beyoncé leading fans through a tuba and trumpet infused journey of her life’s work. As it turns out brass instruments make any song better… especially tubas! The rich and distinct sound of blaring tubas carrying through each song gives the music a certain ‘in yo’ face’ quality making this album easy to love. Her background singers, the Mamas, are strategically replaced by a more versatile mini-all female-choir and her signature female band is masterfully blended with an orchestra and a traditional southern drumline complete with snares, cymbals, quads, and bass, making the entire album feel like Beyoncé made a surprise appearance during the halftime Battle of the Bands at an HBCU Homecoming Alumni Weekend football game in Louisiana’s Tremé, NOLA’s oldest and most distinct and culturally relevant African American neighborhood, known for their jazz clubs, soul food, the second line – a brass band parade that grows as on lookers participate either through dance or instruments to honor loved ones in death.
Which is another reason this album is so great…
Last year Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline Coachella – which she pointed out on the album. She also points out how her success has given her a sense of duty to uplift women and support black culture, as evident in the interludes and many of the lyrics on the album. Therefore, it was extremely important for Beyoncé to bring her culture to Coachella by showing the unique experience of a HBCU Homecoming. She wanted to show the world that there is “so much damn swag” in diversity, so she provided a group of young singers, dancers, and musicians the opportunity of a lifetime by cultivating a space for them to explore their creativity and fully participate in the process of bringing the magnificence of their culture to the world.
The result, an earth-shattering stage show unlike anything the world has ever seen, proving why Beyoncé truly is the greatest living entertainer of our time. A concert performance so thoroughly entertaining, it translated effortlessly into Homecoming: The Live Album. The Homecoming sound engineers had their work cut out for them, but somehow they managed to capture the fluidity of a stage show from one song to the next, the stomps, shouts, and screams of her ensemble which adds to the entire mood of the album, and Beyoncé’s attitude on songs like “Get Me Bodied”, “Formation”, “Run the World (Girls)”, “Diva”, “Drunk in Love”, and “Freedom”, somehow transforming these #1 hits into even better songs.
Perhaps it’s the tubas…
It is unknown if at the time of the Coachella performance Beyoncé knew that she would release the show as a live album, but Homecoming: The Live Album is a true testament of what happens when love, vision, creativity, and intent collide. And if the HBCU Homecoming Battle of the Bands analogy doesn’t provide sufficient context as to how rip-roaringly amazing this album really is, just think of any really great dance song.
Now think about that same song, with tubas.
Homecoming: The Live AlbumHomecoming: The Live Album
Album Score10/10 The best