meta-scriptWhat To Expect At Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour In The U.S.: Rhinestones, Samples & An Incredible Supporting Cast | GRAMMY.com
Beyonce's renaissance world tour in barcelona
Beyoncé performs before a capacity crowd at Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona

Photos: Andrew White

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What To Expect At Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour In The U.S.: Rhinestones, Samples & An Incredible Supporting Cast

Beyoncé recently wrapped the European leg of her soul-stirring Renaissance World Tour. Ahead of her American run, which begins in Philadelphia on July 12, read on for a play-by-play from Spain that will hint at what's to come in the U.S.

GRAMMYs/Jul 10, 2023 - 03:02 pm

According to the Spanish press, Beyoncé is a goddess, which, at this point in her 30 years career, is a rather irrefutable claim. Yet the artist is proving her status once again via her 56-date Renaissance World Tour, which arrives in the U.S. on July 12.

"Beyoncé isn't a human, isn't divine, she's something much more powerful," Spanish publication  El Confidencial proclaimed after her June 8 date in Barcelona, her eighth tour stop. 

I can't really argue with these claims, likely scribbled furiously by some of the men sitting near me inside Barcelona's Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium. There, the pop diva brought her GRAMMY-winning RENAISSANCE album — which celebrates queer Black culture, house music and disco — to life in a show that also samples from her rich catalog. 

Yet the humanity behind the most-decorated GRAMMY winner could be felt acutely throughout: when she'd shout out to the audience, or when she gave the floor to her daughter Blue Ivy or her incredible dance crew, and in the simple act of hearing her unparalleled voice in person. 

It's impossible to attend this stellar show — a two-and-a-half-hour work of art — and not attempt to calculate all the work and care that Beyoncé and her team put into executing a live celebration of RENAISSANCE and her wider catalog. One of the writers in my midst looked like he was performing calculus to determine how the hell Queen Bey brought so much magic on stage. 

Beyoncé will launch the North American leg of her tour in July in Toronto. If you are lucky enough to score a ticket, you’re in for a treat; the performance features a runway show of iconic looks (which change nightly), an energetic setlist brought to life by a large, stellar live band, and a ballroom performance. The show has been executed flawlessly of course, but by the time Queen Bey and her crew bring it to the U.S., they’ll have put in hours and hours of practice for what will undoubtedly make for a heavenly event.

Read on for a lowdown of what Beyoncé served up at her record-breaking Barcelona show (the sold-out crowd of 53,000 was the largest audience for a solo female artist in Spanish history) to get a taste of what you can anticipate when she brings the energy, glitz and glam to a city near you.

Expect Uninterrupted Dance Floor Ecstasy

"My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom," Bey wrote in her announcement of the RENAISSANCE album last summer. "I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are." 

She’s brought that intention fully to life with the Renaissance tour,  creating collective moments to stadiums full of dancing, euphoric bodies.

The expert curation of seemingly endless looks, incredible choreography and seamless setlist filled with "remix" moments made it hard to sit down. The show is so action-packed, you'll be catching your breath if you try to track every single sample and gravity-defying dance move. Even when the queen left the stage for a costume change, her incredible dancers continued the energy and kept the eye-catching show going. 

Just as the album plays like a DJ set, with each track leading directly into a juicy teaser of the next track, the stacked setlist of 40 songs is just as lively, energetic and flowing. "Samples" from across her catalog and her influences were woven into every song, offering fresh renditions of her music and a non-stop delivery of groove. 

Beyoncé's voice was impeccable; her vocal range shined through the expansive set list. On tracks like "Heated," Beyoncé reminded us she’s a badass rapper who can throw down bars.

The Custom Designer Looks Are A Show In Itself

The show’s plentiful fashion moments channeled the sparkle and glam of the disco era through a Afrofuturistic, space age lens, to eye-catching effect. Expect more fresh variations of her Renaissance lookbook stateside to be revealed each night. 

In Europe, Bey rotated her looks for each show, an extra special treat for fans (and surely for the fashionista herself) as she debuted new ones. Her European tour was filled with outfits from established and smaller designers — including some local brands —  with Balmain, David Koma and Loewe designs aplenty.  To commemorate Juneteenth at her Amsterdam show, she exclusively wore outfits by Black designers. The coordinating accessories were on-point as well; apparently, the singer brought 41 pairs of custom Jimmy Choos on the trek. 

In a rather legendary moment in Barcelona, Ms. Carter returned from a costume change lounging on a gigantic golden shell as she sang "Plastic Off The Sofa." In her peak shimmery moment of the evening, she soon revealed her head-turning golden custom Loewe catsuit, covered in sparkling red-fingernailed hands. She rocked sparkly black red finger-nailed gloves and gold rhinestone booties to match. The dancers wore matte, mesh catsuits, each with their "hands" in different positions.

Other stunning ‘fits from her Barcelona show included a colorful psychedelic mesh dress by David Koma paired with rimless bedazzled space-age sunglasses. She donned a silver, red and black leather space suit from Fendi with matching thigh-high boots, silver gloves and an upcycled fur stole she added on later. 

During the jaw-dropping "Mind Control" act featuring "America Has A Problem," Queen Bey channeled her nickname in a futuristic killer queen space bee look from Mugler with thigh high patent high-heeled boots and antennaed helmet. She’s served up an artsy, buzz-worthy selection of bee-inspired couture during this segment (near the end) of the show.

The BeyHive also adorned themselves in rhinestones, sequins, silver-everything, and cowboy hats and boots to pay tribute to their queen. 

It’s Not Just Glitz & Glam, There’s Plenty Of Feels

Beyoncé’s 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy also made headlines during the European tour. During the impactful The Lion King: The Gift cut "My Power," Blue stole the show and spotlight. She rocked the same red suit as the dancers, but stood out as she danced next to her mom, deftly hitting every move with power. 

Kendrick Lamar's social justice anthem "Alright" was powerfully woven in with "My Power" and brought into the sonic, visual conversation, expanding the two tracks to new heights. This led to Bey’s inspiring Juneteenth 2020 track, "Black Parade" and ended with everyone on stage holding up their fists in the Black power symbol as the stadium cheered.

It's been almost a year since RENAISSANCE lead single "Break My Soul" dropped, and much has gone on in the world since. The refrain "you won't break my soul" remains a pertinent mantra, a cold glass of lemonade when things feel unbearable. And hearing the echoes of tens of thousands of voices singing it in unison felt like we could harness at least a little of Beyoncé's history-making, era-defining superpowers.

During 4 opener, "Love On Top," Beyoncé turned her mic to the crowd to amplify their voices. It felt as if the entire, 53,000-person audience — probably some of the staff too — was singing along in a moment of collective love and unity. 

Bey Shares The Stage With A Collective Of Powerhouse Dancers & Musicians

Just as she brought in an impressive team of co-producers collaborators to craft RENAISSANCE, she assembled a stellar cast of dancers, singers and musicians to help bring it to life on stage. Yes, everyone doled out the big bucks to see Beyoncé perform, but she clearly and beautifully made space for everyone to shine.

According to her website, there are 23 dancers, including Blue Ivy and Les Twins — a twin brother duo and regular Bey guests who can contort into gravity-defying shapes. In addition to sharing the credits online, she also made sure to shout everyone out during her final song.

"Pure/Honey" featured a full-on ballroom moment where the dancers with real-life ball experience, including Honey Balenciaga, wowed the audience. Together, they offered full-on, tens-across-the-board-worthy ball with dips, duckwalks and so much more. 

During an epic rendition of Bey and Jay-Z’s "Crazy in Love," her band got a chance to shine. The horn players came out front for their moment, and the female saxophonist got down for her solo. During the show, they served up world-class sound from an elevated silver platform.

When the star left to change after "Crazy in Love," her backup singers flawlessly sang Diana Ross' 1976 disco classic, "Love Hangover." They were serving futuristic Supremes in matching holographic silver dresses and gloves as a giant disco ball moved towards them, as if magnetized by their disco realness. 

Patron Saint Beyoncé Took Us To Church 

Beyoncé and her angelic voice were raised in the church, and during the show, the "Annointed" act brought her vision of worship to life, where all are welcome.

To announce the segment, lasers spelled out "Annointed" on the screen, followed by a gold and green church. In yet another breath-taking style moment (one that’s seemingly consistent throughout the tour) Queen Bey appeared in a long all-white robe-like dress. As she held her arms out in cross-form under the UV light, it was transformed into stained glass rainbow print. Japanese fashion brand Anrealage made that miracle possible.

As if her mind-blowing technicolor dreamcoat wasn't enough, Bey threw it off to reveal a shimmering Balmain silver sequin and pearl bodysuit, complete with a silver rhinestone-encrusted church hat. Her choir’s robes were also transformed by the light, but they also revealed black mesh outfits (presumably much easier to twerk in). 

This extravaganza led into "Church Girl," albeit a slowed down version, which added drama and showcased her heavenly vocals. When she went into "drop it like a thotty," the music sped up and the dancers started twerking. In a similar contrast of party-heater and soulful ballad, the 2007 Swizz Beatz-co-produced heater "Get Me Bodied" led to a stunning rendition of "Before I Let Go." The act ended with an a cappella moment where one of the dancers adorably looked at the real-life goddess with pure admiration.

On "Church Girl," Beyoncé preaches her vision of spirituality — you can be sexy and have fun as a child of God. And perhaps it's exactly the dancing with abandon, shaking your troubles away, that supports your path towards righteousness. 

The Flawless Production Will Leave Your Head Spinning – In A Good Way 

A massive, high-definition screen that ran the width of the stage with an archway in the middle provided extra context and visuals during the show, announcing each act and adding to the set with images of disco balls, robot legs, dancers, and more. The lighting and lasers were also amazing and added a dance club energy to the stadium. 

The stage itself was also large and unique, with an additional catwalk jutting from it, and a circle surrounding it. The stage brought Beyoncé  closer to the lucky fans at ground level, and allowed plenty of space to slay.

Stage props included a silver space tanker and disco horse, both of which Beyoncé rides on, along with robot arms that fan her off during "Heated." During that song — which she revealed is her favorite from RENAISSANCE —  a towering circle of mics surrounded her.

While it's quite hard to measure fabulous against fabulous, the Virgo queen progressively one-upped herself throughout the show. She saved the best for last, though, opening the jaw-dropping final act with Jim Morrison quote "Whoever controls the media controls the mind" flashed on screen, between "MIND" and "CONTROL," with Bey's face in the middle. It felt like a playful nod to the conspiracy theory that Bey and Jay are part of the Illuminati, as well as to the very real overload of information (and misinformation) we experience 24/7. The screen flashed images of fire, clocks, reCAPTCHA prompts, and more to a medley of Destiny's Child's songs.

This organized chaos set the tone for "America Has A Problem" during which a fake stock market ticker — with symbols like "HNY" that alluded to her song titles — inched along the edges of the screen. The supposed master puppeteer sat at an "on air" news desk, a la her RENAISSANCE photo shoot. 

And for the final moments of magic on stage, Beyoncé took us to heaven. She rode out on a disco horse a la the RENAISSANCE cover (and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54) to Donna Summers' disco hit "I Feel Love." She wore an impossibly long, blindingly shimmering disco cape, and wrapped the show with the "I Feel Love"-sampling track and RENAISSANCE closer, "Summer Renaissance." As silver confetti burst into the audience, she flew through the air high above the stage, her regal cape fluttering like angel wings.

Beyoncé Kicks Off Her Renaissance World Tour In Stockholm, Sweden: Watch Performance And Stage Videos, See Photos, View The Setlist & More

Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.
Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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Beyond Country: All The Genres Beyoncé Explores On 'Cowboy Carter'

On 'COWBOY CARTER,' Beyoncé is free. Her eighth studio album is an unbridled exploration of musical genres — from country to opera and R&B — that celebrates the fluidity of music and her Texas roots.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 08:50 pm

"Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

With those words, spoken on "SPAGHETTII" by Linda Martell — the first commercially successful Black female artist in country music and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry solo — Beyoncé provides a proxy response to her original call on Instagram 10 days before COWBOY CARTER was released: "This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album." 

She delivered on that promise with intent. Through a mix of homage and innovation, Beyoncé's latest is a 27-track testament to her boundless musicality and draws  from a rich aural palette. In addition to its country leanings, COWBOY CARTER includes everything from the soulful depths of gospel to the intricate layers of opera. 

Beyoncé's stance is clear: she's not here to fit into a box. From the heartfelt tribute in "BLACKBIIRD" to the genre-blurring tracks like "YA YA," Beyoncé uses her platform to elevate the conversation around genre, culture, and history. She doesn't claim country music; she illuminates its roots and wings, celebrating the Black artists who've shaped its essence.

The collective album proves no genre was created or remains in isolation. It's a concept stoked in the words of the opening track, "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" when Beyonce reflects, "Nothing really ends / For things to stay the same they have to change again." For country, and all popular genres of music to exist they have to evolve. No sound ever stays the same.

COWBOY CARTER's narrative arc, from "AMERICAN REQUIEM" to "AMEN," is a journey through American music's heart and soul, paying tribute to its origins while charting a path forward. This album isn't just an exploration of musical heritage; it's an act of freedom and a declaration of the multifaceted influence of Black culture on American pop culture.

Here's a closer look at some of some of the musical genres touched on in act ii, the second release of an anticipated trilogy by Beyoncé, the most GRAMMY-winning artist of all-time: 

Country 

Before COWBOY CARTER was even released, Beyoncé sparked critical discussion over the role of herself and all Black artists in country music. Yet COWBOY CARTER doesn't stake a claim on country music. Rather, it spotlights the genre through collaborations with legends and modern icons, while championing the message that country music, like all popular American music and culture, has always been built on the labor and love of Black lives. 

It's a reckoning acknowledged not only by Beyoncé's personal connection to country music growing up in Texas, but the role Black artists have played in country music rooted in gospel, blues, and folk music. 

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

Country legends, Dolly Parton ("DOLLY P", "JOLENE," and "TYRANT"), Willie Nelson ("SMOKE HOUR" and "SMOKE HOUR II"), and Martell ("SPAGHETTII and "THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW") serve mainly as spoken-word collaborators, becoming MCs for Queen Bey. Some of the most prolific country music legends receiving her in a space where she has been made to feel unwelcome in music (most notably with the racism surrounding her 2016 CMA performance of "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks) provides a prolific release of industry levies. Martell, a woman who trod the dark country road before Bey, finally getting her much-deserved dues appears as an almost pre-ordained and poetic act of justice. 

"BLACKBIIRD," a version of the Beatles' civil rights era song of encouragement and hope for the struggle of Black women is led softly by Beyoncé, backed by a quartet of Black female contemporary country songbirds: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. 

Beyoncé holds space for others, using the power of her star to shine a light on those around her. These inclusions rebuke nay-sayers who quipped pre-release that she was stealing attention from other Black country artists. It also flies in the faces that shunned and discriminated against her, serving as an example of how to do better. The reality that Beyoncé wasn't stealing a spotlight, but building a stage for fellow artists, is a case study in how success for one begets success for others. 

Read more: 8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More

Gospel, Blues, & Folk (American Roots)

As is Beyoncé's way, she mounts a case for country music with evidence to back up her testimony. She meanders a course through a sequence of styles that serve as the genre's foundation: gospel, blues, and folk music.

"AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "AMEN" bookend the album with gospel-inspired lyrics and choir vocals. The opener sets up a reflective sermon buoyed by  the sounds of a reverberating church organ, while the closer, with its introspective lyrics, pleads for mercy and redemption. The main verse on "AMEN", "This house was built with blood and bone/ The statues they made were beautiful/ But they were lies of stone," is complemented by a blend of piano, and choral harmonies. 

Hymnal references are interlaced throughout the album, particularly in songs like "II HANDS II HEAVEN" and in the lyrical nuances on "JUST FOR FUN." In the later track, Beyoncé's voice soars with gratitude in a powerful delivery of the lines, "Time heals everything / I don't need anything / Hallelujah, I pray to her." 

The gospel-inspired, blues-based "16 CARRIAGES" reflects the rich history of country songs borrowing from the blues while simultaneously calling back to songs sung by field laborers in the colonial American South. "Sixteen dollars, workin' all day/ Ain't got time to waste, I got art to make" serves as the exhausted plea of an artist working tirelessly long hours in dedication to a better life. 

Rhiannon Giddens, a celebrated musician-scholar, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Pulitzer Prize recipient, infuses "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" with her profound understanding of American folk, country, and blues. She plays the viola and banjo, the latter tracing its origins to Sub-Saharan West Africa and the lutes of ancient Egypt. Through her skilled plucking and bending of the strings, Giddens bridges the rich musical heritage of Africa and the South with the soul of country, blues, and folk music.

Pop, Funk, Soul & Rock 'n' Roll 

All in, Beyoncé is a pop star who is wrestling with labels placed on her 27-year career in COWBOY CARTER. Fittingly, she brings in two other pop artists known for swimming in the brackish water between country and pop, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Her intentional inclusion of two artists who have blurred genres without much cross-examination begs the question, Why should Beyoncé's sound be segregated to a different realm? 

On "YA YA" Linda Martell returns as the listener's sonic sentinel, introducing the track like a lesson plan: "This particular tune stretches across a range of genres. And that’s what makes it a unique listening experience." The tune sinks into the strummed chords of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" before leaping into a fiery dance track that features reimagined lyrics from the Beach Boys, with soulful vocal flourishes and breaks that show the throughline connection between '60s era rock, funk, and pop music.

Robert Randolph lends his hands on "16 CARRIAGES" with a funk-infused grapple on his pedal-steel guitar. It's a style he honed through his early years touring and recording with his family band and later in his career as an in-demand collaborator working with names including the Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones

The lesson is solidified as the album transitions into an interlude on "OH LOUISIANA," featuring a sped-up sample of a classic track by Chuck Berry. This moment emphasizes the pop superstar's nod to civil rights era music history, spotlighting a controversial artist celebrated for his pioneering contributions to rock 'n' roll. (It's a part of music history Beyoncé knows well, after starring as Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, a veiled biopic of the legendary Chicago label Chess Records.)

Classical & Opera

Opera was missing from many listeners' Beyoncé Bingo card, but didn't surprise those that know her background. Beyoncé was trained for over a decade starting at an early age by her voice teacher David Lee Brewer, a retired opera singer who once lived with the Knowles family. 

COWBOY CARTER gives sing-along fans a 101 opera class with "DAUGHTER." In Italian, Beyoncé sings passages from the 1783 Italian opera "Caro Mio Ben," composed by Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni Giordani. The aria is a classic piece of vocal training that fittingly shows off her full range — taking us back to the earliest days of her vocal teachings.

Hip-Hop & R&B

Midway through the album on "SPAGHETTII" Beyoncé announces, "I ain't no regular singer, now come get everythin' you came for," landing right where expectations have confined her: in the throes of a romping beat, experimenting with sounds that blend hip-hop with R&B and soul. The track notably highlights the talent of Nigerian American singer/rapper Shaboozey, who also shows up to the rodeo on "SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'" brandishing his unique mix of hip-hop, folk-pop, and country music. 

Beyoncé worked with longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq on this album, a career legend in the R&B industry, who lends his mark to several tracks on which he wrote, produced, and played multiple instruments. Beyoncé also utilizes the Louisiana songwriter Willie Jones on "JUST FOR FUN," an artist who draws on a contemporary blend of country, Southern rap, and R&B in the hymnal ballad. 

The violin-heavy "TYRANT" and "SPAGHETTII" both underscore hip-hop's long love affair with the classical string instrument (See: Common's "Be," and Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" as the tip of that particular iceberg) with a blend of soulful R&B lyrics paired with beat-based instrumentalization. 

In a world quick to draw lines and label sounds, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER stands as a vibrant mosaic of musical influence and innovation. Ultimately, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER isn't seeking anyone's acceptance. As a Texan once told she didn't belong, her critical response claps back at this exclusion.  It's also a reminder that in the hands of a true artist, music is limitless.

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Beyonce Cowboy Carter Takeaways Hero
Beyoncé at the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Beyoncé Is The Genre-Bending Queen On 'Cowboy Carter': 5 Takeaways From Her New Album

On 'act ii' of her three-part album trilogy, Beyoncé explores the world of country and beyond — and makes a statement with every track.

GRAMMYs/Mar 29, 2024 - 09:12 pm

When Beyoncé released RENAISSANCE in July 2022, she revealed that the album would be part of a "three-act project." One year and eight months later, she delivered on her promise in a big, bold way with act ii: COWBOY CARTER.

The expansive 27-track project finds the star experimenting with country, folk and Americana, pushing the boundaries of genre in a way she never has before — and, in classic Bey fashion, serving up a poignant response to naysayers.

"It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn't," she shared in an Instagram post the week before the album's release. "But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive."

From thoughtful cameos to old-school instrumentation, COWBOY CARTER is the culmination of everything that makes Beyoncé one of the most influential artists of her time, flexing her knack for statement pieces as well as her versatility. 

Here are five key takeaways from Beyoncé's long-awaited new album, COWBOY CARTER.

It's Not Country, It's KNTRY

Beyoncé revealed the COWBOY CARTER track listing in a rodeo-inspired concert flyer posted to Instagram on March 27. The artwork shared an important tag at the bottom: "Brought to you by KNTRY Radio Texas."

KNTRY Radio is a fantasy station with a wide open format created for COWBOY CARTER, and hosted by Willie Nelson in two short "SMOKE HOUR" interludes. Throughout the album, you'll hear samples of old songs by Chuck Berry and other classic artists. 

As Beyoncé stated in another pre-release Instagram post, COWBOY CARTER isn't a country album. Instead, popular styles are blended together in surprising ways to create a new sound that's purely Beyoncé. (There's even a moment, on "DAUGHTER," where she sings a verse from a famous Italian opera called "Caro Mio Ben.")

Whether through an intro, an interlude or a powerful verse, it's clear that Beyoncé and her guests are trying to open minds musically with these songs. "If there's one thing you can take away from our set today, let it be this," Nelson said in the second of his two "SMOKE HOUR" radio-style interludes on the album. "Sometimes you don't know what you like and someone you trust turns you on to some real good s—. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm here."

It's A Unique Continuation Of Her Mission

COWBOY CARTER begins the same way as it ends, with Beyoncé proclaiming, "Them big ideas are buried here, Amen," in the intro of opener "AMERICAN REQUIEM," and then "Them old ideas are buried here, Amen" in the last line of closer "AMEN."

Those statements reflect exactly what Beyoncé set out to do with COWBOY CARTER: celebrate the Black community's roots within the country space, while addressing the lack of cultural acceptance of it. The album celebrates Blackness in the way she's always done, but in a way that feels even more revolutionary.

This is perhaps best exhibited in the trap-infused track "SPAGHETTII." "Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they?" asks Linda Martell — who was the first Black woman soloist to appear at the Grand Ole Opry — on the song's intro. "In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand/ But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

As Beyoncé adds in the first verse, "Now we on a mission, tried to turn me to the opposition/ I'm appalled 'bout the proposition/ Y'all been played by the plagiaristic, ain't gonna give no clout addiction my attention."

Beyoncé has long been at the forefront of honoring Black culture, and COWBOY CARTER is her most boundary-pushing addition to the conversation yet — and she hopes to change the "old ideas" into "big ideas."

It Takes Her Cinematic Love To The Next Level

It's no secret that Beyoncé loves her visuals. Though COWBOY CARTER isn't a visual album like some of her previous releases, a press release revealed that each of the songs on the album are inspired by Western films. In a statement, Beyoncé named five specific films as primary influences: The Harder They Fall, Killers of the Flower Moon, Urban Cowboy, The Hateful Eight, and Five Fingers For Marseilles

Several of the COWBOY CARTER visuals have elements of Western films, from the desert and mountainous landscapes of "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "OH LOUISIANA" to the rainy ashtray in "AMEN." And it's likely not a coincidence that a track called "SPAGHETTII" ended up on an album inspired by Westerns. 

Beyoncé even made a new catchphrase out of the most famous Western movie actor of all time on "BODYGUARD," where she declares she'll "John Wayne that ass."

It's Her Most Organic Sound Yet

Pivoting from the electronic landscape of RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé favors analog instruments over digital sounds on COWBOY CARTER. As "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" foreshadowed, there's plenty of banjo, boot-stomping beats and guitar plucks — and even Beyoncé's fingernails as percussion — across the album.

Raw instrumentation is also sprinkled throughout, particularly on "FLAMENCO" and her stunning cover of the Beatles' "Blackbird" (whose title is given an act ii twist as "BLACKBIIRD"). And if anything sounds a little unpolished, Beyoncé wants you to know it was completely intentional.

"With artificial intelligence and digital filters and programming, I wanted to go back to real instruments, and I used very old ones," Beyoncé explained in a press statement. "I didn't want some layers of instruments like strings, especially guitars, and organs perfectly in tune. I kept some songs raw and leaned into folk. All the sounds were so organic and human, everyday things like the wind, snaps and even the sound of birds and chickens, the sounds of nature."

It's Another Family Affair

Now that Beyoncé's first-born daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, has played a prominent role in her mom's career — winning a GRAMMY in 2021 for her part in "Brown Skin Girl" and famously dancing on the RENAISSANCE World Tour — it was time for her little sister to shine.

Six-year-old Rumi Carter contributes an intro on "PROTECTOR," by asking Bey if she can "hear the lullaby." Though Rumi isn't featured in the rest of the track, hearing her voice at the beginning makes the song's sweet sentiment all the more impactful: "And I will lead you down that road if you lose your way/ Born to be a protector," Beyoncé sings on the chorus.

With so much to uncover in COWBOY CARTER, Beyoncé already has the anticipation high for the final part of her album trilogy. Will act iii feature Rumi's twin brother, Sir Carter? Will the rumors of Beyoncé exploring her rock side be true? We'll hopefully find out soon enough, but for now, get lost in the world of COWBOY CARTER — a testament to Beyoncé's prowess as an ever-evolving trailblazer. 

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Enter The World Of Beyoncé

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Beyoncé attends the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Beyoncé's New Album 'Cowboy Carter' Is Here: Check Out The Featured Artists, Cover Songs, And Tracklist

Beyoncé's highly anticipated 'COWBOY CARTER' opens up a Pandora's box of American lore, and the deep connections between Blackness and country music. Here's the rundown of the album's featured artists, cover songs and tracklisting.

GRAMMYs/Mar 29, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Beyoncé's act ii is upon us — say hello to COWBOY CARTER.

On March 29, the 32-time GRAMMY winner unleashed the follow-up to her acclaimed 2022 album, RENAISSANCE. While COWBOY CARTER hints "Bey goes country," the LP is more of a psychedelic opus, with glimmers of country twang and style.

Across a sprawling 27-song tracklist of inspired originals flecked with covers and interpolations, Queen Bey takes us on a rodeo ride through so many musical universes, paying homage to the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Linda Martell, and more.

Clearly, there's a treasure trove here — more than enough to keep the Beyhive abuzz throughout 2024. GRAMMY.com is here to help you pore over every twangy lick, mega-guest star and lyrical implication. 

As you dive into Beyoncé's astonishing new album, read on for some of the fundamentals of COWBOY CARTER.

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The Tracklisting

Two days prior to COWBOY CARTER's release, Bey released the tracklist — fittingly, in the form of a rodeo poster. And much to the delight of the Beyhive, it's nearly double the length of its 16-track predecessor, RENAISSANCE.

Check out the rodeo poster, as well as the complete track listing, below.

  1. AMERIICAN REQUIEM

  2. BLACKBIIRD

  3. 16 CARRIAGES

  4. PROTECTOR

  5. MY ROSE

  6. SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON

  7. TEXAS HOLD 'EM

  8. BODYGUARD

  9. DOLLY P

  10. JOLENE

  11. DAUGHTER

  12. SPAGHETTII

  13. ALLIGATOR TEARS

  14. SMOKE HOUR II

  15. JUST FOR FUN

  16. II MOST WANTED

  17. LEVII'S JEANS

  18. FLAMENCO

  19. THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW

  20. YA YA

  21. OH LOUISIANA

  22. DESERT EAGLE

  23. RIIVERDANCE

  24. II HANDS II HEAVEN

  25. TYRANT

  26. SWEET HONEY BUCKIIN'

  27. AMEN

The Cover Songs

Among two dozen dazzling Beyoncé originals, COWBOY CARTER features covers of the Beatles' "Blackbird," Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Chuck Berry's "Oh Louisiana."

"BLACKBIIRD" (retitled from "Blackbird," with an act ii flavor) is a Paul McCartney song, credited to Lennon-McCartney and featured on 1968's The Beatles, commonly known as The White Album. The song's civil rights inspiration makes it more than a worthy selection: the use of McCartney's original guitar and foot-tapping track makes it especially ear-grabbing.

"JOLENE" is a Dolly Parton classic, similarly given symphonic heft by Bey; Parton offers a radio-like intro on the COWBOY CARTER rendition.

In Parton's pre-"JOLENE" intro, "DOLLY P," she connects "Jolene" to Bey's immortal line "Becky with the good hair" from the Lemonade track "Sorry": "You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about? Reminded me of someone I knew back when, except she has flamin' locks of auburn hair. Bless her heart. Just a hair of a different color, but it hurts just the same."

"OH LOUISIANA" is a Chuck Berry deep cut from 1971's undersung San Francisco Dues; a flicker of Berry's "Maybellene" appears in "SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON," which also features interpolations of Roy Hamilton's "Don't Let Go" and Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Down By The River Side."

Similarly, "YA YA" contains glimmers of Tommaso Giordani's "Caro Mio Ben," Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations."

The Guests

Beyoncé has always displayed razor-sharp intent with her collaborators, and COWBOY CARTER is no exception.

The featured guests highlight a slew of rising Black stars in the country scene. "BLACKBIIRD" spotlights four budding female artists, Brittney Spencer, Renya Roberts, Tanner Addell and Tiera Kennedy; Willie Jones shows off his chops on "JUST FOR FUN"; and country-rap fusionist Shaboozey stars on two tracks, "SPAGHETTII" and "SWEET HONEY BUCKIIN.'"

She also welcomes two country-loving pop stars, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, who make appearances on "II MOST WANTED" and "LEVII'S JEANS," respectively. And along with Parton, Beyoncé honors two more country greats with two aptly titled homages: fellow Texan Willie Nelson appears on "SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON" and "SMOKE HOUR II," and trailblazer Linda Martell "The Linda Martell Show"

Perhaps Beyoncé's cutest collaborator is her six-year-old daughter, Rumi Carter, who makes her adorable debut on "PROTECTOR."

With that, venture forth into COWBOY CARTER — another quintessentially Bey statement of purpose and prowess.

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Beyonce on stage accepting the GRAMMY Award for "Halo" During Her Record-Setting Night In 2010
Beyonce on stage accepting the GRAMMY Award for "Halo" During Her Record-Setting Night In 2010

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé Win A GRAMMY For "Halo" During Her Record-Setting Night In 2010

As you dive into Beyoncé's new album, 'COWBOY CARTER,' revisit the moment Queen Bey won a GRAMMY for "Halo," one of six golden gramophones she won in 2010.

GRAMMYs/Mar 29, 2024 - 05:05 pm

Amongst Beyoncé's expansive catalog, "Halo" is easily one of her most iconic songs. Today, the 2009 single is her most-streamed song on Spotify; it was her first video to reach one billion views on YouTube; and it helped her set one of her GRAMMY records in 2010.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, watch the superstar take the stage to accept Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Halo" in 2010 — the year she became the first female artist to win six GRAMMYs in one night.

"This has been such an amazing night for me, and I'd love to thank the GRAMMYs," she said, admitting she was nervous before taking a deep breath.

Before leaving the stage, Beyoncé took a second to thank two more special groups: "I'd love to thank my family for all of their support, including my husband. I love you. And I'd like to thank all of my fans for their support over the years."

The five other awards Beyoncé took home that night were for the coveted Song Of The Year ("Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)") and four R&B Categories: Best Contemporary R&B Album (I Am... Sasha Fierce), Best R&B Song ("Single Ladies"), Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Single Ladies"), and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (for her cover of Etta James' "At Last"). 

As of 2024, Beyoncé has won the most GRAMMY Awards in history with 32 wins.

Press play on the video above to relive Queen Bey's "Halo" win for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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