The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

“COWBOY CARTER” is an artistic sequel to “RENAISSANCE”

Megastar Beyoncé Carter gallops from soul to country in “COWBOY CARTER”
Album cover | Parkwood/Columbia/Sony
Carter rides a white horse on the main “COWBOY CARTER” album cover, a parallel with her “RENAISSANCE” album which features her on a mirror disco ball horse. In her hands is an American flag, and she is decked out in a red, white and blue cowboy outfit.

“If that ain’t country, tell me what is? / Plant my bare feet on solid ground for years / They don’t, don’t know how hard I had to fight for this,” (“AMERIICAN REQUIEM” — Track one on “COWBOY CARTER”) 

Award-winning singer-songwriter Beyoncé Knowles-Carter released her eighth studio album on Friday, March 29. The album spans an astounding 27 tracks, serving as the second album in Beyoncé’s trilogy project that began in July of 2022 with her popular soul and R&B album “RENAISSANCE.” The album also has notable parallels with its prequel, with the “COWBOY CARTER” album cover featuring Beyoncé on a white stallion, whereas the “RENAISSANCE” album cover featured Beoycé riding a mirror disco ball horse. However, in contrast to the soul and R&B tracks of “RENAISSANCE,” “COWBOY CARTER” experiments with different genres, with its release marking Beyoncé’s first-ever country album.  

While unexpected, Beyoncé’s transition into country music is not far-fetched. According to Fortune, Beyoncé spent five years writing and producing “COWBOY CARTER,” and her shift into the genre also addresses the current whitewashed nature of country music, a genre that was originally created and popularized by Black Americans. Beyoncé began hinting at this release with her 2024 Grammys outfit featuring a cowboy hat. She also released two singles “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” during the 2024 Super Bowl, officially announcing her transition into the genre. “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” marked Beyoncé’s shift into country music, featuring a banjo twang and catchy lyrics that made the track perfect for the radio. Soon enough, the track hit number one on Billboard’s Top 100, breaking records in both the country genre and music as a whole

Despite being a popular lead single, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” fails on all other accounts. The track features an obnoxious “whoo” and seems carefully curated for the radio, featuring very little musical depth that is often present with Beyoncé’s other works — the track does not stand out lyrically nor with its production. Its only redeemable quality is that it is catchy and borderline controversial (being a massive switch from soul to country), encompassing the two key traits that define a stellar lead single. On the other hand, “16 CARRIAGES” contained a dramatic flair reminiscent of the singer’s older work in soul and R&B. This stands out as sentimental and far deeper than “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and is a much better song from an analytical perspective.

As a whole, “COWBOY CARTER” is unpredictable and grabs listeners’ attention — upon the release of “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” people were curious as to why Beyoncé suddenly switched genres, raising public anticipation for the music she would soon put out. Beyoncé failed to disappoint with her recent release, diversifying her discography by dabbling with country music and proving she is one of the most versatile and talented singer-songwriters of her time. 

Furthermore, Beyoncé strategically ordered all 27 tracks in the album’s tracklist, allowing the album to flow cohesively and understandably. This is particularly seen with the album’s opening and closing tracks, “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” and “AMEN,” respectively. “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” is a beautifully curated track in which the singer proves that country music has been at the root of her family history, claiming she is truly a country musician at heart. Beyoncé’s vocals are assertive in the track, with the production and background synths creating an angelic feeling, contributing to the character present within the opener as a whole. Although spanning over five minutes, this track encompasses a variety of emotions and multiple layers of depth, arguably being one of the best album openers of the decade. The vulnerability of “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” is also seen in “AMEN,” which reinforces how country music is part of the singer’s identity, not just another genre she is choosing to dabble in. Aside from being a stellar track, “AMEN” as a closer ties in perfectly with the thematic aspects of the album’s opener, and this creates a full circle with the album’s themes and a sense of completion for listeners by the time they reach the end of the album. 

Beyoncé also features a rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” where she changes the lyrics to be more empowering and confident in her relationship. The song has lyrics such as “We’ve been deep in love for twenty years / I raised that man, I raised his kids” and “I sleep good, happy / ‘Cause you can’t dig up our planted seeds,” which alter the meaning of the song and add a layer of depth to Parton’s original track. 

Parton also sings on various tracks on the album, being one of the many features on “COWBOY CARTER.” The country legend shines in “TYRANT” and the “DOLLY P” interlude, perfectly complementing Beyoncé’s vocals and artistic style with her rich country vocals. Beyoncé also features her daughter Rumi Carter as an ode to the meaning in “PROTECTOR,” which is a wholesome addition that strengthens the singer’s theme of family and her Southern upbringing. However, country music giants Willie Nelson and Miley Cyrus fall flat in their features. Nelson is relegated to unnecessary interludes, as seen in both “SMOKE HOUR ★ WILLIE NELSON” and “SMOKE HOUR II.” Beyonce’s rich mezzo-soprano overpowers Cyrus’s huskier, more subdued vocals in “MOST WANTED,” a slower song that showcases neither singer’s strengths nor potential compatibility. Neither collaboration adds anything of value except featured credit to the album. Furthermore, Beyoncé’s collaboration with Hip-hop/rap artist Shaboozey on the track “SPAGHETII” also feels displaced, breaking the flow of country-adjacent tracks. While the intro of “SPAGHETII” acknowledges the breaking of “genre,” the track’s sudden shift from acoustic guitar riffs to deep synths and grunts is extremely jarring. 

Beyoncé also uses various interludes to compensate for any potential thematic gaps between the tracks in the album, with an example being the “DOLLY P” interlude (which features famous country star Dolly Parton) before Beyoncé’s rendition of “JOLENE.”  However, in other cases, it becomes clear how the album heavily relies on sub-one-minute interludes to buff its tracklist, a questionable move for a singer known for her inventive lyrics and unique, purposeful music. “An example is “SMOKE HOUR ★ WILLIE NELSON,” with Nelson’s painstakingly boring narration towards the end of the track. In comparison, replacing some of these interludes with full-length songs or creating a shorter album would make each track stand out more, whereas having bland tracks like “SMOKE HOUR ★ WILLIE NELSON” significantly decreases the overall enjoyability of the album. 

“COWBOY CARTER” is a thematically strong album, leaning heavily into messages of race, family and culture that make Beyoncé’s discography uniquely hers. She beautifully uncovers the history of her family and life in Texas during her childhood, and her lyricism delves into the racism she faced as a Black artist in the music industry, particularly with “DAUGHTER” and “AMERIICAN REQUIEM.” In addition to this, Beyoncé unique flair truly transforms country music with her musical touch, successfully making an album that is “not just a country album, but a ‘Beyoncé’ album.” Despite its flaws, Beyoncé demonstrates her versatility and willingness to experiment with her sound. “COWBOY CARTER” may not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction, leaving listeners curious as to where her foray into country music will take her next. 


About the Contributors
Aashi Venkat
Aashi Venkat, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Aashi Venkat is currently a senior and an arts and entertainment editor for El Estoque. Her favorite color is pink and she likes to take pictures and listen to music in her free time.
Sonia Verma
Sonia Verma, Design Editor
Sonia is a senior and design editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she likes to draw and watch YouTube.
More to Discover