Should Beyoncé have released a country album?


Fact Box

  • On March 29, 2024, Beyoncé released her eighth studio album Cowboy Carter, her first country album, which was born out of her upbringing in Houston, Texas, and reflective moments throughout her career. Artists like Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson star alongside Beyoncé in her year-long project. 
  • Cowboy Carter became the most-streamed album on Spotify in a single day for early 2024. Beyoncé is the first woman and first Black woman to have topped both Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. 
  • Billboard rated the top songs on Beyonce’s country album with “Ya Ya” being the best of 27 tracks. “Daughter,” “II Most Wanted” (with Miley Cyrus), and “Riiverdance” came in close favorites. 
  • While some praise Cowboy Carter for its diverse music style, others critique it as too long with ballads and lullabies. Overall, the album is rated at a 9.3 out of 10 according to Business Insider’s senior music reporter. 
  • Many musicians have changed genres. Taylor Swift crossed over from country to pop in 2014 with 1989. Gwen Stefani switched up her music multiple times bouncing around from rock, pop, ska, and country. Lil Nas X also made the move from country to pop after his “Old Town Road” remix.

Mark (No)

The mere concept of Beyoncé releasing a 'Country' album is both vain and erroneous. Let's start with the cover art of Cowboy Carter, which depicts an awkwardly positioned Beyoncé seated on a white horse, clad in patriotic/rodeo garb. Instead of defying stereotypes, she's indulging in what looks like a half-hearted cosplay session.

While Beyoncé would like people to believe she's a show business crusader attempting to bridge the gap between contrasting genres, that's simply a promotional tactic—she will always be a lofty multi-millionaire, out of touch with real country Americans. Perhaps the most off-putting aspect of this record is Beyoncé's true motivation for doing it. It isn't to make true country music but is instead her pithy lament of feeling 'unwelcome' or snubbed at past awards shows. However, she conveniently seems to forget that she was the one to hijack the 50th annual CMA Awards show in 2016 when she was allotted more time than any other country artist performer.  

Additionally, Cowboy Carter lasts for around 80 minutes. It’s a blatant example of self-indulgence as not only does Beyoncé urge her audience to set aside all expectations, but she also wants them to invest almost an hour and a half while doing so. She even changes the lyrics to the Dolly Parton standard, 'Jolene,' completely dismissing the fragile vulnerability at the essence of the track. Ironically enough, though, Beyoncé stated that Cowboy Carter 'ain't a Country album.' Yet she seems perfectly content to allow it to be promoted as such, reveling in the media frenzy that will result in a terrific first week of sales. 

Emily (Yes)

Beyoncé's decision to branch out to country music was a difficult journey. Sadly, she wasn't met with open arms in the country genre when she performed her first country song, 'Daddy Lessons,' at the 2016 CMAs. Her performance received racist backlash, which made her feel unwelcome. However, Beyoncé didn't give up and worked on Cowboy Carter over the next five years.

Since Beyoncé comes from a different musical background, her version of country music isn't what most expect when they think of a typical country song. Throughout her Cowboy Carter album, she skillfully incorporates elements of hip-hop (one of her main genres), bluegrass, and Chicano rock, with pop, rock, Jersey club music, and operatic runs. These blends allowed her album to appeal to a broad audience, not just country music fans. Her song 'TEXAS HOLD 'EM' reached first place in the country music category on Billboard's Hot 100.

Beyoncé's resilience and innovation in country music are transforming the genre and breaking barriers for women, especially Black women in country music. Shockingly, as of 2023, only five Black female country artists have charted in the US, with only 5% of airplay. Additionally, women make up only 11% of country artists that get airtime on country radio. Beyoncé's achievement as the first Black woman to top the country music charts signifies a significant shift in the industry, paving the way for other aspiring artists who might not have tried to enter before. There is no doubt Beyoncé has broken barriers and reshaped the country genre.

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