The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Dominating all genres: Beyoncé’s brand new album, “Cowboy Carter” blazes trails in music’s wild, wild west

5 min read
Image of Beyoncé carrying the American flag, while riding a white horse.

The album cover for “Cowboy Carter” features Beyoncé riding a white horse carrying the American flag. | @beyonce, Instagram


Staff Writer

The ‘BeyHive’ has potentially gained an additional bee following the release of Beyoncé’s new album “Cowboy Carter.” In all 21 years of my life, I have never considered myself a Beyoncé fan, but the blending of genres, melodious harmonies and endless tracklist on “Cowboy Carter” have shown me Beyoncé’s prowess. 

After much anticipation, the album debuted on March 29 and contains 27 songs with several collaborations with hard-hitting country artists such as Dolly Parton and Willie Jones. Although it was published as a country album, it also comprises R&B, pop and rap.

As her eighth studio album, Beyoncé continues to break records. According to CBS News, the project “earned the title of most-first day streams of a country album by a female artist on Amazon Music.” The album also marked Beyoncé’s biggest debut on the streaming platform, as shared by Amazon Music on their social media. I can confidently admit I contributed to at least 10 of those streams.

I first listened to “Cowboy Carter” while riding shotgun with my eldest sister. We were on the way to my hometown for the Easter holiday and we were searching for something to keep us entertained. I suggested for us to allow Beyoncé to sing us home, so we did just that.

The scenic route we took home is what made this listening party so special. As the second track “BLACKBIIRD” played, I glanced out the window to see the vacant corn fields and trees blowing in the wind. Seeing this while listening to the strings on the guitar strum alongside Beyoncé’s vocals enhanced my contentment with the song and set the atmosphere for the album.

“BLACKBIIRD” is a beautiful lullaby that has been on repeat since the first time I heard it.

One of the biggest power moves Beyoncé made with this album is having a tracklist with songs of various lengths rather than only three- to four-minute songs. Some of the tracks are as brief as 20 seconds, serving as an introduction to the songs that follow.

For example, the track “DOLLY P” is a short monologue from Parton where she playfully teases Beyoncé about the woman who is trying to steal her man compared to Beyoncé’s. It establishes an immaculate segway into the next song “JOLENE” and gives the listener context about the song’s content.

The anthem entitled “RIIVERDANCE” is another favorite of mine. It starts with a stereotypical strum of the guitar with Beyoncé repeatedly saying “dance.” I wasn’t motivated to start dancing until she said, “bounce on that shit, dance” while a piano joining in with the guitar. The command was aggressive, but I didn’t mind it. In fact, I liked it. 

The melody that made me yearn for more is called “LEVII’S JEANS” and is a collaboration with Post Malone. It’s a call and response between the two of them, and their voices are seductive, flirtatious and work well together. Beyoncé sings, “you call me pretty little thing,” but she drags out the ‘i’ to make it sound like “thang.” She does this throughout the entire song and simply deserves a chef’s kiss.

Senior psychology major Tenley Ward was also pleased by Malone’s feature on the song.

 “I was really intrigued by the Post Malone feature … it was not something I was expecting from her but I was very impressed by him and his little country twang,” she said. “I think that’s a really pretty song.”

Although Ward took a liking to “LEVII’S JEANS,” the album itself wasn’t a hit for her in the beginning.

She continued, “I honestly thought [“Cowboy Carter”] was mid at first. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying much attention to the lyrical content and it’s really long, so I think I just got kind of bored on my first listen.”

When deciding which genre the project falls under, Ward believes it to be genre-less. 

“I wouldn’t put it under any genre. It’s just a Beyoncé album, she’s genre-less. She’s transcended that at this point,” she said.

Track 25 entitled “TYRANT” is another song that had me in a trance. It opens with a lead-in from Parton stating, “Cowboy Carter/Time to strike a match/And light up this juke joint.” Her declaration is then followed by steady hands clapping in the background while Beyoncé vocalizes. 

Her vocalizing abruptly stops around 37 seconds into the 4-minute and 11-second tune. There’s a brief silence and then the beat drops while the violin squeals and becomes the new background.

It was at this point I had to look at my sister to see if I was still experiencing reality. She was bobbing her head and I was bobbing mine in satisfaction. 

The penultimate song on the album, “SWEET ★ HONEY ★ BUCKIIN’,” was truly ear candy. Shaboozey is featured on the tune, and the song incorporates R&B, rap and its lyrics are heavily influenced by country. It’s three different songs in one, and the transitions between them flow so seamlessly. 

My favorite part of the song comes in when Beyoncé chants “like a mechanical bull” while the beat thumps in the background. My heartbeat follows the rhythm, which makes for an enjoyable and unique experience. 

Although I fell in love with this tune, senior English and theatre double major Percy Sampson wasn’t fond of it.

“That one was not memorable,” they said. “I thought the title was cool and I liked the beat, but there’s nothing that really caught it for me.”

Sampson preferred listening to the fourth song on the album called “PROTECTOR” because it reminds them of their niece.

“I really love it when people write songs for their kids, and this is a really good one that she wrote for her children,” they said. “I just had a niece, so I’m constantly thinking about how much I want to protect her. So that was like a good tie in for that.”

As a final reflection, I believeCowboy Carter” has blessed me and allowed me to witness Beyoncé’s adaptability as a singer. I hadn’t given Beyoncé much attention or support in the past because I believed she was overhyped, but now I see where the hype comes from.

Although she has made a name for herself as an R&B artist, Beyoncé can dominate any genre, and the proof of that lies within this album. I’ll continue listening to it, and I recommend those who haven’t already to do so. They certainly won’t regret it.