The Year of Yoncé


Beyoncé, photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Hayden Fowler and Madison Doster

The queen of pop, R&B/Soul, and more recently, hip-hop, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, has had quite a successful year. Featuring a documentary capturing her iconic 2018 Coachella performance titled “Homecoming”, a live album of the same name, a role in the 2019 “Lion King” remake, and an album in direct correlation to the film, as well as a short film showcasing the making of the project, it is quite obvious the Queen Bey herself has had quite the year.

Knowles-Carter’s collaboration with Netflix on the documentary, “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé”, strikingly encapsulates everything that made the star a hit: style, flare, attitude, talent, and her ode to Black culture. The film’s focus on her Coachella performance and the struggles it took to master the show perfectly explains how the performance as a whole was more than just any ordinary concert, but more of an experience.

Beyoncé Homecoming, photo by Netflix

Beyoncé made history by being the first black woman to headline the festival and there’s no doubt that she took advantage of that title. As elaborated upon in the documentary, she wanted the performance to fully express her hard work and dedication towards her art and her fans, all while giving fans exactly what they came for: a performance featuring her most popular content.

From stunning choreography to eccentric vocals, the performer not only keeps the audience engaged with her most well-known hit singles, but also with references to Black culture. Beyoncé selected dozens of artists from a multitude of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to form a phenomenal drum line, band, orchestra, choir, and dance team in order to make the performance one to remember.

“I was really happy with her focus on HBCUs,” said senior Ahmani McCullough, “she really gave us a glimpse into where everything started and where everything came from; she gave light to where there wasn’t.”

The film’s glimpse into African American heritage not only set the scene for an emphasis on the relation to her past work set in the show, but also an ode to Black culture in general.

“I love when black excellence is being shown…our culture was brought to a predominantly white-based festival, so it was great to see how she [Beyoncé] used her platform to express our heritage and uniqueness,” admired senior Jordan Worthy.

All of the singer’s biggest hits were highlighted during the performance, all while having musical and choreographed features from the likes of Jay-Z, her fellow members of Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, and Solange.

Remixes to popular songs like Nicki Minaj’s “Feeling Myself”, O.T. Genesis’ “Everybody Mad”, and F.L.Y.’s “Swag Surfin’” particularly stood out and represented Beyoncé’s versatility as a performer.

In general, “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” successfully and rightfully became one of Netflix’s most watched movies of 2019 and thoroughly dug into one of Beyoncé’s most impactful and legendary performances to date.

After the success of the documentary, Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” was nominated for outstanding variety special (pre-recorded), outstanding costumes for variety, non-fiction or reality programming, outstanding directing for a variety special, outstanding music direction, outstanding production design for a variety special, and outstanding writing for a variety special at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

However, the performer’s work did not win a single Emmy, shocking many fans and viewers. Fans were most disappointed and surprised by the winner of the outstanding variety special (pre-recorded) category, “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live from Liverpool”. Many believe that the cameramen and crew from “Homecoming” deserved this award considering how hard they worked to perfectly capture the many difficult and appealing shots from the performance.

Film director, Ben Hagarty, stated that he “held a heavy camera and walked backwards down a set of stairs while keeping these 3 legends [Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams] in frame”.

Even though no Emmys were won, Beyoncé’s hard work and dedication to the film has not been forgotten.

Along with the documentary, came Beyoncé’s album, “Homecoming: The Live Album”.

At a rigorous runtime of an hour and 49 minutes long, “Homecoming: The Live Album” sonically provides fans with an astonishing mix of the songs presented throughout the documentary, all while giving fans a new jaw-dropping remix to Maze & Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go”, becoming one of the biggest hits of the summer.

From strong vocals to clear, fluent instrumentals, the artist generously blessed the ears of her listeners. Not only does Beyoncé delicately select from her endless list of hits, she also chooses a flawless set list to perform to. Each song precisely flows from one to another, never giving audiences a chance to become bored.

The album’s chart-topping presentation should show its success, if not from the extraordinary content in and of itself.

Now, “Homecoming” was not the only major film to star Mrs. Carter, but also one of the summer’s biggest films, “The Lion King (2019)”. Although reviews of the film have been mixed, Beyoncé’s performance stood to be one of the major high points.

The Lion King (2019), photo by Disney

Her acting skills and vocal performances were both well-represented. The film itself certainly was not perfect, but the chemistry between Donald Glover’s ‘Simba’ and Beyoncé’s ‘Nala’ made up for a few of its many flaws.

Prior to the release of the film, Beyoncé released “Spirit”. A song filled with heavy African drums and vivacious vocals from both Beyoncé herself and backup singers. The song was one of only two to differ from the original pieces of work found in the movie. Although, the complete four-minute and 37 second song was not featured in the film, besides around a minute-long snippet, what Disney did give us was exceptional to say the least.

With the “Lion King”, Beyoncé also produced and starred in an album that the star called “a love letter to Africa”, titled “The Lion King: The Gift”. Featuring artists from the likes of the African countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa, Beyoncé dedicated the album to her African roots all while presenting interludes of dialogue and natural sounds found within “The Lion King”.

The Lion King: The Gift, photo by Beyoncé,

When first listening to the album, we were completely blown away. Sounds similar to that of the singer’s past work and completely new ones flowed throughout the album and brought nothing but pleasure.

Songs such as “BIGGER”, “FIND YOUR WAY BACK”, “NILE”, “BROWN SKIN GIRL”, “KEYS TO THE KINGDOM”, “ALREADY”, and “OTHERSIDE” showed exactly why Beyoncé is as popular as she is today: the sounds she creates are unlike no other. There wasn’t a single track that didn’t have an impact on the album as a whole and Beyoncé remarkably pulled off a risky, yet perfect piece of art.

Earlier this month, Beyoncé surprised fans with her hour-long documentary television special, “Beyoncé Presents: Making The Gift”. The film took fans behind-the-scenes of creating each song on the album and revealed her inspiration for each song.

The film begins with the first song on the album and goes through the making of each song after that. Seeing the process of the songs being put together gave viewers a better understanding on the meaning behind each track.

The singer traveled to several different countries in Africa with her family earlier this year and took fans through that journey with her. Her film includes several clips from her trip and highlights the beauty of the people and culture in Africa.

The album itself is a love letter to Africa, so she made sure to have several African artists on the album and included clips of how each of them worked together to make each song.

Expressing more on the matter, Jordan Worthy states, “it’s great how she gave African based artists a platform to show their talent. By doing this she shined a light on African culture and shared their greatness with the world.”

“The Making of the Gift” shared the beauty of Africa with others and allowed fans to experience the journey with her.

The singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress showed the world as to why she is one of the biggest and most successful stars on the planet. 2019 was Beyoncé’s year to shine and she did nothing but that.

Beyoncé Coachella 2018, photo by Beyoncé