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The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

With “Cowboy Carter,” Beyoncé Redefines Herself and Country Music

Caroline Sorensen
MAY 20 , 2024 – Beyonce’s new “Cowboy Carter” album has received numerous reviews from well known newspapers, such as The Washington Post, who wrote that the album “demands respect.” According to The New York Times, “Cowboy Carter” is “America: Every bit of it.”

The release of “Cowboy Carter” by Beyoncé did more than gallop into the No.1 album spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It redefined country while remaining an authentically “Beyoncé” album.

“Cowboy Carter” was released on March 29, 2024 as the second of her promised album trilogy, following the release of Renaissance in 2022. Inspired by a racist experience in her past, Beyoncé took a deep dive into the history of country music and created a blend of rock, country, folk, and the blues over 27 songs to give her fans a “journey” that “never stops.”

Beyoncé starts strong with her leading track titled “American Requiem.” This song calls out her opposers and challenges the audience’s perception of country music itself.

Beyoncé sings the lyrics “they used to say I spoke, ‘Too country’ / And the rejection came, said I wasn’t, ‘Country ‘nough.’”

She references how the country community has never been a fan of her, or Black women in general.

Born in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé was once criticized for her southern accent and was then accused of not belonging in the country genre.

In the first track of the album, Beyoncé not only claims that she belongs in the country genre, but that Black artists need to stop being pushed out of the genre as a whole. Beyoncé proves that she deserves her spot in the country genre throughout the rest of the album.

Beyoncé takes a turn towards folk music after the first track. The second track of the album is a cover of The Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” Written about racism during the American Civil Rights Movement, Beyoncé keeps the history of the song while making the cover her own, which Rolling Stone says is one of the simplest yet “most stunning moments” of the album.

The Beatles member Paul McCartney loved Beyoncé’s cover, and rightfully so. The cover featured other up and coming country artists, creating an incredible listening experience for fans.

Aside from the sound of the song itself, Beyoncé solidifies her role as a Black female artist as she sings a song written about other Black women living in a racist America in the 1960s, making the song extremely impactful.

Going back to her traditional roots, the eighth track titled “Bodyguard” is fun and upbeat. Listening to the song feels like riding in a convertible with the top down.

This song highlights the beauty of love with lyrics like “I could be your bodyguard… I could be your Kevlar… I could be your lifeguard.”

Despite the overflow of love in this song, it remains authentically human with undertones of insecurity and jealousy in lyrics like “I don’t like the way she’s lookin’ at you / Someone better hold me back.”

Nevertheless, this track makes the listener excited to love and may even give them the urge to ride “shotgun.”

With a shift in the type of love she sings about, “Protector” is a beautiful representation of motherhood and her relationship with her children.

The song has a powerful start, with a feature from her daughter Rumi Carter asking “Mom, can I hear the lullaby, please?”

Rumi’s feature is only the beginning of an emotion packed ballad dedicated to her three children. Throughout the song, Beyoncé speaks to the powerful feelings of motherhood with lyrics like “I will lead you down that road if you lose the way / Born to be a protector.”

Not only does this song include the protective instincts of motherhood, but it highlights how Beyoncé “feels proud” to be the mother of her children, which is enough to bring any listener a swell of emotions.

Moving down the album, one of the best tracks on “Cowboy Carter” is a cover of famous country singer Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Beyoncé gives this 1973 original a twist with modern lyric changes, making the song her own.

In the original song, Dolly “begs” the most beautiful woman named Jolene to not “take her man” just because she can. The lyrics portray Dolly as a woman who defines her worth based on whether or not a man chooses her. She says she “could never love again” if Jolene takes her man, which furthers the underlying codependency of Dolly’s relationship.

Beyoncé essentially sings about the complete opposite of Dolly. Beyoncé confidently “warns” Jolene not to take her man, instead of begging like Dolly.

Beyoncé sings about a twenty year relationship in which she “raised” her man and his kids. This is a complete shift from the fragile, breakable relationship Dolly sings about.

Beyoncé makes “Jolene” authentic to her, as she does with all of her covers, which makes the songs even more personal.

As a whole, “Cowboy Carter” is an exact representation of who Beyoncé is. Over the years, people have said Beyoncé is too country, or just a basic pop artist. Yet, she showed she can be who she chooses and can explore the genres she wants to.

Not only does Beyoncé define herself in “Cowboy Carter,” but she defines the country genre.

As the first Black woman to ever have a No. 1 single on the Hot Country Songs chart, Beyoncé proves that Black women belong in all genres of music, despite racist stereotypes.

Beyoncé says she hopes that someday, the mention of an artist’s race becomes irrelevant to the genre of music they are producing, and “Cowboy Carter” is a step towards this goal.

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