Beyoncé shook the interwebs last night with a surprise Super Bowl announcement (as well as a Verizon commercial), revealing her plans to drop her 8th career studio album on March 29th, titled Renaissance: Act II,but here’s the kicker… it appears to be a country-themed project.
You know, because thanks to superstar acts like Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Zach Bryan, country music is pretty much the hottest thing on the planet right now and everyone is ready to throw a cowboy hat on and drop their “country album.”
Enter Beyoncé… who dropped two songs from the project, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages,” as well as this kind of country-themed teaser video for the album.
Complete with cowboy hat imagery, some twangy guitar licks and western-themed lyricism, the media ran with “BEYONCÉ IS DROPPING A COUNTRY RECORD,” and maybe there will be some more of her Texas roots on this record, but I think we need to pump the brakes on declaring this a “country album” until we hear a little more of it.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Beyoncé has dipped her toes in the country music waters though. Back in 2016, as part of her Lemonade record, she released a song called “Daddy Lessons” with a little bit of country flavor to it. In fact, the song tried to earn Grammy consideration in the country music category but was ultimately rejected by the Recording Academy. However, Beyonce joined the Dixie Chicks on stage to perform the remix of the song at the CMA Awards that year.
Which, didn’t come without controversy… but let’s be honest, country awards shows are no exception to the changing country music landscape. In fact, they seem to be leading the charge. Every year we see these awards shows trot out pop stars, athletes, celebrities, and actors and actresses who have nothing to do with country music in a failing attempt to reach out to a wider audience, while all it really does is alienate actual fans of country music who are quickly losing interest in the shows.
Before the 2016 CMA Awards, Alan Jackson was asked about this trend and his hopes for the 50th anniversary edition of the awards show:
“Yeah, they may play some real country music. But I understand the dang television station trying to get the ratings with whatever they think is gonna prop it up, with some big event with some other type of artist on there. Yeah, hopefully it’ll be a good country music show for a change.”
And that was at least partially the case. The show opened with a performance from some of the legends of country (including Jackson) performing some of the biggest country hits of all time – artists like Charlie Daniels, Reba, Randy Travis, Charley Pride, and Vince Gill.
The show even featured a Jackson and George Strait performing a duet of their own songs “Remember When” and “Troubadour.”
But the producers of the CMA Awards just couldn’t help themselves.
The decision to invite Beyoncé, and have her perform with the Dixie Chicks, left many scratching their heads on a night that was supposed to be celebrating 50 years of the Country Music Awards. And apparently Alan Jackson wasn’t a fan.
According to one Nashville manager interviewed by Billboard, Jackson stood up from his seat in the front row and walked out in the middle of the performance:
“The overall show was great, but in my opinion that seemed out of place and felt forced. It just didn’t fit the night to me, celebrating the 50 years, and the Dixie Chicks seemed like her backup band on it, without enough of a real shout-out to them.
I was sitting behind Alan Jackson, and he actually stood up from the front row and walked out in middle of the performance, so I think that spoke volumes for the traditional, real country acts.”
Jackson wasn’t the only country artist who was unhappy with the decision to have a pop artist performing during what’s supposed to be “country’s biggest night.” Travis Tritt also took to Twitter to mock and express his displeasure with the decision:
I have nothing against Beyoncé. It's the CMA producers that I'm disappointed in. Country doesn't need pop acts for ratings.
Nevertheless, it appears as though Beyoncé will be taking another run at some kind of country-inspired project, or maybe it’ll just be a couple songs. Maybe it’ll just be this one song that has a little Texas flavor, just enough to get people talking ahead of the release.
For my money, “Texas Hold ‘Em” has a catchy melody, toe-tapping beat, and what sounds like some dobro licks, all of which works to check that “country-inspired pop” box (maybe more like folk pop), but with “16 Carriages,” I’m not really hearing anything that would make me think “country music” whatsoever. Who knows what the rest of the record will hold…
In the meantime, check out the two new songs (I’m not mad at the video…)