Lemonade (Beyoncé album)

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Beyonce - Lemonade (Official Album Cover).png
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 23, 2016 (2016-04-23)
RecordedJune 2014 – July 2015
Beyoncé chronology
Beyoncé: Platinum Edition/More Only
Everything Is Love
Beyoncé studio albums chronology
Singles from Lemonade
  1. "Formation"
    Released: February 6, 2016
  2. "Sorry"
    Released: May 3, 2016
  3. "Hold Up"
    Released: August 16, 2016
  4. "Freedom"
    Released: September 9, 2016
  5. "All Night"
    Released: December 6, 2016

Lemonade is the sixth studio album by American singer Beyoncé, released on April 23, 2016, by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. It was her second "visual album" following her 2013 eponymous fifth album, and is a concept album[2] accompanied upon its release by a sixty-five minute film aired on HBO.[3] Primarily an R&B album, Lemonade encompasses a variety of genres, including pop, reggae, blues, rock, hip hop, soul, funk, Americana, country, gospel, electronic, and trap. It features guest vocals from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Jack White, and contains samples and interpolations of a number of hip hop and rock songs.[4]

Lemonade was made available for streaming on April 23, 2016 through Beyoncé's co-owned streaming service Tidal. It was released for purchase the following day, and at physical retailers on May 6. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 485,000 copies in its first week of sales (653,000 with additional album-equivalent units) and earning Beyoncé her sixth consecutive number-one album on the chart. As of December 2016, Lemonade has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States, making it the third-bestselling album of the year in the US.[5] It was also the best-selling album of 2016, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), with 2.5 million copies shipped globally.[6] On April 23, 2019, exactly 3 years from its original release, the album was made available on Spotify and Apple Music.

It was supported by five singles: "Formation", "Sorry", "Hold Up", "Freedom" featuring Kendrick Lamar, and "All Night"; "Daddy Lessons" featuring the Dixie Chicks. The album appeared on several publications' year-end lists, with Rolling Stone listing it at number one.[7] In April 2016, Beyoncé embarked on The Formation World Tour to promote the album, an all-stadium tour visiting North America and Europe, the year's second highest-grossing tour.

Lemonade was nominated for nine awards at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017, winning Grammy Awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video, "Formation" received nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Music Video, while "Hold Up", "Don't Hurt Yourself", and "Freedom" were nominated in pop, rock, and rap categories, respectively.[8] The album won a Peabody Award in the Entertainment category. The review aggregation site Metacritic lists it as the second-most critically acclaimed album of 2016 and the eighteenth-most critically acclaimed album of all time.[9] In 2017, NPR named Lemonade as the sixth greatest album made by a woman.[10] In June 2019, Lemonade was certified 3× Platinum, having sold up to 3 million album-equivalent units in the United States alone.[11]


Beyoncé performing during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as special guest for Coldplay on February 7, 2016

On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé released "Formation" free on the music streaming service Tidal and its accompanying music video on her official YouTube account.[12] The following day, Beyoncé performed "Formation" during her performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.[13] Immediately after the performance, a commercial aired announcing The Formation World Tour, which kicked off in Miami, Florida on April 27, 2016, with the first pre-sales going on sale just two days after the announcement on February 9, 2016.[14]

Leading up to the tour announcement, Beyoncé was both praised and criticized over her new song and Black Panther-influenced costume for the Super Bowl halftime performance. As a result of this, the hashtags "#BoycottBeyonce" and "#IStandWithBeyonce" began trending on social media platforms such as Twitter. A group of protesters planned to stage an "anti-Beyoncé" rally outside of the NFL's headquarters in New York City, New York on the day general sale of tickets went for sale,[15] but no protesters showed up and instead dozens of Beyoncé supporters held a rally for her.[16]


Malcolm X in 1964
The film samples work by Malcolm X.

Lemonade was accompanied by the release of a sixty-five-minute film of the same title, produced by Good Company and Jonathan Lia, which premiered on HBO on April 23, 2016,[17] logging 787,000 viewers.[18] It is divided into eleven chapters, titled "Intuition", "Denial", "Anger", "Apathy", "Emptiness", "Accountability", "Reformation", "Forgiveness", "Resurrection", "Hope", and "Redemption".[19]

The film uses poetry and prose written by expatriate Somali poet Warsan Shire; her poems which she adapted were "The Unbearable Weight of Staying", "Dear Moon", "How to Wear Your Mother's Lipstick", "Nail Technician as Palm Reader", and "For Women Who Are Difficult to Love".[20][21] It also features Ibeyi, Laolu Senbanjo, Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya and Serena Williams.[22] In "Forward", the mothers of Trayvon Martin (Sybrina Fulton), Michael Brown (Lesley McFadden), and Eric Garner (Gwen Carr) are featured holding pictures of their deceased sons.[23][24] After "Forward", a scene showcases a Mardi Gras Indian circling a dining table, paying homage to the culture of New Orleans, Louisiana.[25] Jay-Z and Beyoncé's daughter Blue Ivy appears in home video footage at one point, as does Jay-Z's grandmother Hattie White, and Beyoncé's mother Tina Knowles, who is shown with her second husband Richard Lawson on their wedding day in 2015.[26] The film also samples work by Malcolm X, specifically an excerpt from his speech "Who Taught You to Hate Yourself", which is featured on the track "Don't Hurt Yourself".[27]

In "Hold Up", Beyoncé appears as Oshun, a Yoruba water goddess of female sensuality, love and fertility. Oshun is often shown in yellow and surrounded by fresh water, and folktales of Oshun describe her malevolent temper and sinister smile when she has been wronged. Donning a flowing yellow Roberto Cavalli dress, gold jewelry and bare feet, Beyoncé channels the orisha, or goddess, by appearing in an underwater dreamlike state before emerging from two large golden doors with water rushing past her and down the stairs. During the "Hold Up" video, a smiling, laughing and dancing Beyoncé smashes store windows, cars and cameras with a baseball bat, representing Oshun's furious temper in a modern context. It also pays homage to artist Pipilotti Rist's video installation "Ever Is Over All". "Love Drought" video features Beyoncé leading a line of black women dressed in white along a shoreline. They stand, unified, looking out into the water as they hold hands and lift them one by one. This second reference to baptism is heavy in this scene along with messages of faith and love, which are, the lyrics say, "strong enough to move a mountain" or "end a drought".[28] Comparisons have also been drawn between the imagery of "Love Drought" and the Igbo Landing, a historic location that was the site of a mass suicide by drowning of Igbo people who had been taken as slaves.[29]

In June 2016, Matthew Fulks sued Beyoncé, Sony Music, Columbia Records and Parkwood Entertainment for allegedly lifting elements of his short film Palinoia for Lemonade. The lawsuit specifically targets the trailer for the HBO special.[30] Fulks had accused her of stealing nine visual elements from Palinoia.[31] The lawsuit was subsequently dismissed by New York federal judge Jed S. Rakoff, siding with the defendant.[32]

The film was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Variety Special and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special. From the four categories, Beyoncé was nominated in the aforementioned two.[33] The album's visuals received eleven nominations at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, including Breakthrough Long Form Video for Lemonade, Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, Best Direction, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography for "Formation", Best Female Video and Best Art Direction for "Hold Up", and Best Choreography for "Sorry" and "Formation"; Beyoncé won eight of her nominations.[34] Lemonade won Best TV Show – Special or Limited Series at the African-American Film Critics Association Awards 2016[35] and Outstanding Television Documentary or Special at the 2017 Black Reel Awards.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album features musicians Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, and bassist Marcus Miller, and sampling from folk music collectors[36] John Lomax, Sr. and his son Alan Lomax on "Freedom". Beyoncé and her team reference the musical memories of all those periods,[36] including a brass band, stomping blues rock, ultraslow avant-R&B, preaching, a prison song (both collected by John and Alan Lomax), and the sound of the 1960s fuzz-tone guitar psychedelia (sampling the Puerto Rican band Kaleidoscope).[37] The Washington Post called the album a "surprisingly furious song cycle about infidelity and revenge",[38] referencing the classical compositional genre defined in German lieder by Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms. The Chicago Tribune described the album as not just a mere grab for popular music dominance, rather it is a retrospective that allows the listener to explore Beyoncé's personal circumstances, with musical tones from the southern United States, a harkening back towards her formative years spent in Texas.[39] AllMusic wrote that Beyoncé "delights in her blackness, femininity, and Southern origin with supreme wordplay."[40]

According to The A.V. Club, the tracks "encompass and interpolate the entire continuum of R&B, rock, soul, hip hop, pop, and blues", accomplished by a deft precision "blurring eras and references with determined impunity."[41] The Guardian and Entertainment Weekly both noted that the album touches on country,[42][43] and Entertainment Weekly noticed the use of avant-garde musical elements. Consequence of Sound wrote that the album's genres span "from gospel to rock to R&B to trap";[44] On the album, Isaac Hayes and Andy Williams are among the sampled artists.[42] PopMatters noticed how the album was nuanced in its theme of anger and betrayal with vast swathes of the album bathed in political context; however, it is still a pop album at its essence with darker and praiseworthy tones.[45] Melina Matsoukas, the director of the "Formation" music video, said that Beyoncé invited her to her house in Los Angeles, California, and explained the concept behind Lemonade, stating: "She wanted to show the historical impact of slavery on black love, and what it has done to the black family, and black men and women—how we're almost socialized not to be together."[46] In an interview with W, Beyoncé's creative director Todd Tourso further explained the concept behind the album, referencing Beyoncé's desire of "placing it in the context of a generational relationship".[47]

Title and artwork[edit]

The album title was inspired by Beyoncé's grandmother Agnéz Deréon, as well as her husband Jay-Z's grandmother, Hattie White. At the end of the song "Freedom", an audio recording of Hattie White heard speaking to a crowd at her ninetieth birthday party in December 2015 is played. During the speech, Hattie says: "I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade."[48] Streaming service Tidal described the concept behind Lemonade as "every woman's journey of self-knowledge and healing."[49]

The cover artwork for Lemonade features Beyoncé standing next to a car, wearing a fur coat and cornrow braids, hiding her face behind her arm. It was shot during the filming of the music video for "Don't Hurt Yourself".

Release and promotion[edit]

Beyoncé performing during The Formation World Tour at Wembley Stadium in London, England on July 3, 2016

Lemonade was first made available for online streaming via Tidal on April 23, 2016 through Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, and for digital download the following day. It was released for CD and DVD on May 6, 2016. A limited edition box set titled How to Make Lemonade was made available for pre-order on August 18, 2017, containing a six-hundred-page coffee table book, featuring a set of pictures and behind-the-scenes content showcasing the making of the album, and a double vinyl LP of Lemonade. Standalone vinyl was released on September 15, 2017.[50] Upon its release, Lemonade was only available to stream on Tidal; however the album was eventually released to all other streaming platforms on April 23, 2019, exactly three years after its release. The version of the album that was made available on other streaming services contains the original audio part of Lemonade as well as the original demo of "Sorry".[51]

Beyoncé performed "Formation" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as part of her guest appearance at the event.[52] Beyoncé performed "Freedom" with Kendrick Lamar as the opening number at the 2016 BET Awards on June 27.[53] At the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, Beyoncé performed a sixteen-minute medley of "Pray You Catch Me", "Hold Up", "Sorry", "Don't Hurt Yourself", and "Formation".[54] The performance was ranked at number one on Andrew Unterberger's list of the "100 Greatest Award Show Performances of All Time" for Billboard.[55] On October 19, Beyoncé performed "6 Inch" and "All Night" at the TIDAL X benefit concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City, New York.[56]

A remix of "Daddy Lessons" featuring the Dixie Chicks was released as a promotional single on November 2, 2016 for free on Beyoncé's SoundCloud.[57] It previously debuted at number forty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its music video was released on Tidal on November 5, 2016. On November 20, 2016, it was released on the iTunes Store for purchase and on all streaming services.[58][59] On November 2, Beyoncé performed "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks at the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards (2016).[60] Beyoncé performed "All Night" in December 2016 at the Parkwood Entertainment Holiday Party. At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards on February 12, 2017 Beyoncé performed "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles".[61]

In order to promote the album, Beyoncé embarked on The Formation World Tour which visited countries in North America and Europe from April to October 2016.[62] The Formation World Tour was ranked at number one and number two on Pollstar's 2016 mid-year Top 100 Tours chart both in North America and worldwide respectively, with a total mid-year worldwide gross of $137.3 million from the first twenty-five shows (including $126.3 million from the first North American leg of the tour). In total, the tour grossed $256 million from forty-nine sold-out shows according to Billboard box score, and ranked at number two on Pollstar's 2016 Year-End Tours chart. On April 23, 2019, Lemonade was made available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify, three years after the album’s official release, along with the original demo of Sorry.[63]


"Formation" was released as the album's lead single exclusively on Tidal on February 6, 2016, along with its accompanying music video. The following day, Beyoncé performed it at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as part of her guest appearance at the event.[64] "Formation" peaked at number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The music video for the song was uploaded onto Vevo in December 2016.[65]

"Sorry" was released as the second single and serviced to rhythmic adult contemporary radio in the United States on May 3, 2016,[66] and its music video was uploaded onto Vevo on June 22, 2016.[67] The single debuted and peaked at number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100.[68]

"Hold Up" was the third single and was first released to contemporary hit radio stations in Germany and the United Kingdom on May 12, 2016,[69][70] and was later serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States on August 16, 2016.[71] It debuted at number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot 100.[68] The music video for "Hold Up" was uploaded onto Vevo on September 4, 2016.[72]

"Freedom" was released as the fourth single and was sent to radio stations on September 9, 2016. It previously peaked at number thirty-five on the US Billboard Hot 100.

"All Night" was released as the fifth and final single on December 6, 2016. It previously debuted at number thirty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its accompanying music video was released onto Vevo on November 30, 2016.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[40]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[75]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[42]
The Guardian4/5 stars[43]
The Independent5/5 stars[76]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[79]
Vice (Expert Witness)A−[81]

Lemonade received widespread acclaim from music critics and is also Beyoncé's most critically acclaimed studio album to date. AllMusic writer Andy Kellman felt that "the cathartic and wounded moments here resonate in a manner matched by few, if any, of Beyoncé's contemporaries."[40] In Spin, Greg Tate wrote that the album "is out to sonorously suck you into its gully gravitational orbit the old fashioned way, placing the burden of conjuration on its steamy witches' brew of beats, melodies, and heavy-hearted-to-merry-pranksterish vocal seductions. In her mastery of carnal and esoteric mysteries, Queen Bey raises the spirits, sizzles the flesh, and rallies her troops."[80]

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that the album "feels like a success" and that Beyoncé sounded "genuinely imperious".[43] The Daily Telegraph writer Jonathan Bernstein felt it was her strongest work to date and "proves there's a thin line between love and hate."[75] Nekesa Moody and Mohamad Soliman from The Washington Post called the album a "deeply personal, yet ... a bold social and political statement as well".[82] Writing for The New York Times, Jon Pareles praised Beyoncé's vocals and her courage to talk about subjects that affect so many people, and noted that "the album is not beholden to radio formats or presold by a single".[83] Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune felt that "artistic advances" seem "slight" in context towards the record's "more personal, raw and relatable" aspects, where it came out as a "clearly conceived" piece of music, meaning it had a "unifying vision" for what may have lent itself to being "a prettily packaged hodgepodge".[39]

Reviewing the album in The Independent, Everett True wrote that it "is fiery, insurgent, fiercely proud, sprawling and sharply focused in its dissatisfaction."[76] Ray Rahman wrote for Entertainment Weekly that Beyoncé is way "too busy putting out her boldest, most ambitious, best album to date", declaring simply "middle fingers up."[42] Writing a review for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield opined that she affirmed her "superhero status" with this album.[79] Jillian Mapes of Pitchfork wrote that her pursuit of "realness" gives the album a certain "quality to it that also invites skepticism".[78] In The A.V. Club Annie Zaleski wrote that it was "yet another seismic step forward for Beyoncé as a musician."[41]

Shahzaib Hussain, writing for Clash, stated: "Lemonade is Beyoncé at her most benevolent, and her most unadulterated. Treating her blackness not as an affliction but a celebratory beacon, Lemonade is a long overdue, cathartic retribution."[84] In the NME, Larry Bartleet said the album was "sweet but with an edge".[77] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that the album "is her most lyrically and thematically coherent effort to date."[85] Maura Johnston of Time wrote that its tracks were "fresh yet instantly familiar" with an "over-the-top but intimate" sound.[86] Jamie Milton of DIY wrote that "there's so much more than an enthralling story to draw out of this all-slaying work", where "Beyoncé can count herself as a risk-taker breaking new ground, up there with the bravest."[87] Exclaim!'s Erin Lowers wrote that "If you've ever been handed lemons, you need Lemonade."[88] Britt Julious of Consequence of Sound described the album to a "gift" Beyoncé has given to the listener that is "raw yet polished, beautiful yet ugly."[44] PopMatters writer Evan Sawdey felt few albums could ever be considered "as bold, complex, or resolute as Lemonade,"[45] and the BBC's Mark Savage noted that Beyoncé had become an albums artist, with a range extending beyond that of radio play.[89]


At the end of 2016, Lemonade appeared on a number of critics' lists ranking the year's top albums. According to Metacritic, it was the second most prominently ranked record of 2016.[90] Lemonade was ranked as the best album of the year by such publications as Rolling Stone,[91] Billboard,[92] Entertainment Weekly,[93] The Guardian,[94] Digital Spy,[95] The Independent,[96] The Associated Press,[97] The New York Times (Jon Pareles list),[98] Los Angeles Times (Mikael Wood list),[99] Pop Matters,[100] Pretty Much Amazing,[101] Idolator,[102] Stereogum,[103] Complex,[104] Consequence of Sound,[105] Wired,[106] and US Weekly.[107] Paste,[108] USA Today,[109] NPR also included the release on their list of best albums of 2016.[110]

On the annual Village Voice's Pazz & Jop mass critics poll of the year's best in music in 2016, Lemonade was ranked at number two.[111] For Slant it was the third best,[112] while Exclaim! listed the album at number four on their list of the Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums of 2016.[113] According to Spin, it was the sixth best album of 2016.[114] NME listed Lemonade at number eleven on their list of best albums of the year,[115] FACT at number fifteen,[116] Drowned in Sound at number twelve,[117] Uncut at number ten,[118] Mojo at number twelve,[119] Q at number thirteen,[120] while Tiny Mix Tapes at number thirty-two.[121] Esquire magazine included Lemonade among the twenty best releases of 2016.[122] Pitchfork listed Lemonade at number one on their list of best music videos of 2016.[123] The publication would later name Lemonade the third best album of the same year.[124] It was also included on Sight & Sound's best films of 2016 list at number twenty-six.[125][126] David Ehrlich, a film critic for IndieWire, placed Lemonade at number twenty-three on his Best Films of 2016 list.[127] Jen Yamato from The Daily Beast ranked it at number nine on her list of the Top 10 Best Films of 2016.[128] In 2017, the album was ranked at number six on NPR's list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women.[129]

"Formation" won in three categories at the 2016 BET Awards for Video of the Year, the Centric Award, and the Viewers Choice Award.[130] At the 2017 BET Awards Beyoncé was nominated in 7 categories and won 5, including Album of the Year, Video of the Year for "Sorry" and Best Female R&B/Pop Artist.[131] The Lemonade film was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Variety Special and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special. From the four categories, Beyoncé was nominated in the two mentioned.[33] The album's visuals received 11 nominations at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. They included Breakthrough Long Form Video for Lemonade, Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, Best Direction, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography for "Formation", Best Female Video and Best Art Direction for "Hold Up", and Best Choreography for "Sorry" and "Formation".[34] Beyoncé went on to win eight of her nominations, including Video of the Year and Breakthrough Long Form Video.[132]

She received two nominations at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards Japan for Best Album of the Year for Lemonade and Best Female Video International for "Formation", eventually winning for Best Album of the Year.[133][134] At the 2016 Soul Train Music Awards, Beyoncé was nominated for eight awards including Best Female Artist, Lemonade for Album of the Year, and "Formation" for Song and Video of the Year. Beyoncé went on to win all four awards. Lemonade won Best TV Show – Special or Limited Series at the African American Film Critics Association.[35] At the 2017 NAACP Image Awards, Lemonade was nominated for Outstanding Album and Outstanding Variety – Series or Special, "Formation" was nominated for Outstanding Song and Outstanding Music Video, and "Freedom", featuring Kendrick Lamar, was nominated for Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration and Outstanding Song. The album received four awards, including Outstanding Album, Outstanding Song and Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration for "Freedom" and Outstanding Music Video for "Formation".[135] At the 2016 ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards, Lemonade received the award for Best Awards or Event Special, as well as "Hold Up", "6 Inch" and "Denial" all being nominated for Best Short Format: Web Series, Music Video or Commercial.[136]

At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, Lemonade received three nominations: Album of the Year, Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Film. "Formation" received three as well: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Music Video. "Hold Up" was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, "Don't Hurt Yourself" for Best Rock Performance and "Freedom" for Best Rap/Sung Performance.[137] The album went on to win two awards, Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video for "Formation".[138] Lemonade won Outstanding Television Documentary or Special at the 2017 Black Reel Awards.[139] Lemonade won a Peabody Award in Entertainment, along with the following description by the board of jurors: "Lemonade draws from the prolific literary, musical, cinematic, and aesthetic sensibilities of black cultural producers to create a rich tapestry of poetic innovation. The audacity of its reach and fierceness of its vision challenges our cultural imagination, while crafting a stunning and sublime masterpiece about the lives of women of color and the bonds of friendship seldom seen or heard in American popular culture."[140]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Lemonade debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with 653,000 album-equivalent units, out of which 485,000 were pure album sales. This made the highest opening-week sales for a female act of the year. Subsequently, she broke the record she previously tied with DMX, by becoming the first artist in the chart's history to have their first six studio albums debut at number one.[141] In the same week, Beyoncé became the first female artist to chart twelve or more songs on the US Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, with every song on the album debuting on the chart. She passed the previously held record of eleven by Taylor Swift's third studio album Speak Now (2010),[142] while Cardi B passed hers with 13 songs in 2018.[143] Additionally, Lemonade was streamed 115 million times via Tidal, setting a record for the most-streamed album in a single week by a female artist,[144] which was later surpassed by Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy (2018).[145] The album slipped from number one to number two in its second week, selling 321,000 album-equivalent units, out of which 196,000 were pure album sales. It remained at number two in its third week selling 201,000 album-equivalent units, out of which 153,000 were pure album sales. Lemonade was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in June 2016. According to Nielsen's 2016 Year-end Report, it has sold 1.52 million copies and 2.1 million album-equivalent units in the United States.[146] On May 20, 2019, the album was certified double platinum for shipments of 2 million copies. On June 13, 2019, the album was certified triple platinum for shipment of 3 million copies. In Canada, the album debuted at number one with sales of 33,000 copies.[147]

The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart selling 73,000 copies in its first week of release, with 10,000 equivalent sales (14% of the total sales) accounting for streaming, marking the largest ever for a number-one album since the chart began including streaming.[148] The album marked the singer's third number-one album on the chart and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on September 9, 2016 for shipments of 300,000 copies.[148] All of the album's tracks also debuted within the top hundred of the UK Singles Chart.[149]

In Australia, Lemonade sold 20,490 digital copies in its first week, debuting atop the Australian Albums Chart and becoming Beyoncé's second consecutive number-one album in the country.[150] It received a platinum certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 70,000 copies.[151]

Lemonade also peaked atop the charts in Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Flanders, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea, and Sweden. By the end of 2016, the album sold 2.5 million copies worldwide according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), being the best-selling album of 2016 worldwide and the third best-selling album of the year in the United States .

In May 2018, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv published a NTNU-assisted report accusing music service Tidal, the only streaming platform where Lemonade is available, of intentionally falsifying streaming numbers for the album by "several hundred million false plays," and consequently paying inflated royalties. The newspaper led the investigation after Tidal claimed that Lemonade was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release, while having 3 million subscribers, according to the music service itself.[152]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Several musicians were inspired by Lemonade. American rapper Snoop Dogg named his fourteenth studio album Coolaid (2016) after Lemonade.[153] Singer Florence Welch was inspired by the record, stating: "We've been listening to Lemonade before every show. It's the record I dance around to before I go on stage."[154] British girl group Little Mix cited Lemonade as an inspiration for their album Glory Days (2016).[155] American singer The-Dream wrote a response to Lemonade titled "Lemon Lean" in his EP Love You To Death, saying that the album changed the way people think about their reationships.[156][157] American singer Lauren Jenkins used Lemonade as the inspiration for her album and long-form music video No Saint.[158] Taylor Swift is also said to have been inspired by Lemonade for her album Reputation, with both artists using their albums to address personal issues through the medium of music. Billboard writes that Shania Twain's Now "couldn't have existed without" Lemonade, as an album that "completely changed the course of breakup album history" in which the artist is "someone at their full creative peak pushing herself into new niches, dominating new musical territories."[159] Joe Coscarelli of The New York Times describes how "some brand-name acts are following Beyoncé’s blueprint with high-concept mini-movies that can add artistic heft to projects," with Frank Ocean's Endless and Drake's Please Forgive Me cited as examples of artists' projects inspired by Lemonade.[160] Kadeen Griffiths from Bustle states that Lemonade, as an album that deals with issues related to black women, "paved the way" for Alicia Keys' Here and Solange's A Seat At The Table.[161] Many critics have noted that Jay-Z's thirteenth studio album 4:44 (2017) is a response to Lemonade, with Jay-Z referencing lines from Lemonade, such as the "You better call Becky with the good hair" line on Beyoncé's "Sorry", with Jay-Z retorting: "Let me alone, Becky" in "Family Feud".[162]

Myf Warhurst on Double J's "Lunch With Myf" explains that with Lemonade, Beyoncé "changed [the album] to a narrative with an arc and a story and you have to listen to the entire thing to get the concept... She's brought the album back."[163] Legendary musician Stevie Wonder called Lemonade “a great work, a great art piece”.[164] At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017), Adele dedicated her Album of the Year award to Beyoncé and said: "The artist of my life is Beyoncé... the Lemonade album, is just so monumental."[165] Former FBI director James Comey sang “Sancastles” during an FBI brief.[166]

Lemonade has also inspired artists in media other than music. Fashion stylist Salvador Camarena paid homage to Lemonade by designing a room dedicated to the album during Modernism Week, saying “That album is such a visually stunning album. There are so many iconic looks from the video, I kind of wanted to implement that world into that room.”[167] Bill Condon, director of the film Beauty and the Beast (2017) says the visuals behind Lemonade inspired him for the movie: "You look at Beyoncé's brilliant movie Lemonade, this genre is taking on so many different forms… I do think that this very old-school break-out-into-song traditional musical is something that people understand again and really want."[168] The cover of Marvel's 2017 America comic book paid homage to the "Formation" music video, with its illustrator saying "America is a comic that is all about representation, feminism and fighting for what’s right... I could think of no better parallel than Beyoncé."[169]

Sales for Warsan Shire's chapbook "Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth" increased by 700 to 800% after her poetry was included in the Lemonade film.[170] Beyoncé's mention of Red Lobster in "Formation" increased sales at the restaurant chain by 33%, which made employees rename popular menu items after Beyoncé and call the effect the "Beyoncé Bounce".[171] Designers of the costumes that Beyoncé wore in the Lemonade film spoke with Complex about the impact that this had on their careers; for example, Natalia Fedner, who designed Beyoncé's dress for "Hold Up", stated that because of the dress's inclusion in Lemonade, "I was on 'Entertainment Tonight' being hailed as a 'designer to watch'."[172] The inclusion of imagery from the 1991 film Daughters of the Dust in the visuals for Lemonade helped bring the film back to theatres, with director Julie Dash stating that Lemonade "just took me places that I had not been seeing in a long, long time. It just re-confirmed a lot of things that I know to be true about visual style and visual metaphors. And the use of visual metaphors in creating, redefining, and re-framing a Creole culture within this new world."[173] The use of the lemon and bee emojis increased due to the release of Lemonade, with a Twitter spokesperson telling Time: "Before Lemonade, the lemon emoji had no meaning. Since the launch of Lemonade, the emoji has taken on a meaning of its own".[174] The MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Long Form Video, which Beyoncé ultimately won at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, was reintroduced after 25 years due to the Lemonade film.[175]

Lemonade was parodied and was paid homage to in various media. In an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt titled "Kimmy's Roommate Lemonades!", character Titus Andromedon parodied the videos for "Hold Up", "Sorry" and "All Night" after he suspects his boyfriend of infidelity, coining the term "Lemonading".[176] The "Hold Up" music video was also paid homage to in The Simpsons and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.[177][178] SNL produced two sketches on Lemonade: one entitled "The Day Beyoncé Turned Black" after Beyoncé released the "unapologetically black" "Formation",[179] and the other entitled "Melanianade" which parodied the "Sorry" music video featuring impersonations of Donald Trump's female family members and aides.[180] In a Late Night with Seth Meyers sketch titled "Beyoncé Lemonade Late Night Aftermath", females staffers empowered by Lemonade paid homage to the visuals, costumes, songs and poetry featured in the film.[181] The Late Late Show with James Corden produced a parody entitled "Lemonjames: A Visual Monologue", where James Corden gave his monologue by recreating parts of the Lemonade film such as the "Pray You Catch Me", "Don't Hurt Yourself" and "6 Inch" music videos.[182] For Beyoncé's 36th birthday, various black female public figures recreated a costume that Beyoncé wore in the "Formation" music video, including Michelle Obama and Serena Williams.[183]

University of Texas at San Antonio offered a class in the Fall of 2016 based on the album. The course, titled "Black Women, Beyoncé and Popular Culture", explored how the visual album "is a meditation on contemporary black womanhood," before advancing and diving into the "theoretical, historical, and literary frameworks of black feminism," according to the syllabus.[184] The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hosted a "Lemonade Week" in April 2017, which featured discussions on feminism, theatrical performances, celebrations of African-American women writers and poets, and choreography tutorials.[185] Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) announced "The Lemonade Project", a twelve-month series of conversations centered around the visual album. The series will explore the themes of race, gender and class addressed by the album.[186]

The release of "Formation" and the consequent performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show caused both conversation and controversy due to its "unapologetic blackness". Many articles and think pieces were produced discussing the importance and meaning of the song and performance, such as the BBC, who produced an article entitled "Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance: Why was it so significant?",[187] and TheWrap, who produced an article entitled "Why Beyoncé's Formation’ Matters So Much: A Perfectly Choreographed Political Debut Before 112 Million."[188] A rally held against Beyoncé and her Super Bowl performance was called "the worst-attended protest ever" by the New York Post.[189] Lemonade as a whole also inspired many think pieces, particularly written by black women, that analyze the messages and significance of the album,[190][191][192] such as Miriam Bale for Billboard who named Lemonade "a revolutionary work of black feminism".[190] Dr. Kinitra Brooks and Dr. Kameelah Martin have produced "The Lemonade Reader", described as "an educational tool to support and guide discussions of the visual album at postgraduate and undergraduate levels, [which] critiques Lemonade’s multiple Afrodiasporic influences, visual aesthetics, narrative arc of grief and healing, and ethnomusicological reach."[193]

Megan Carpentier of The Guardian named the album "a pop culture phenomenon" and wrote: "It is not an exaggeration to say that there is no other living musical artist who could ignite such a broad and unavoidable conversation just by releasing a new album – even a visual one."[194] Writing in the same publication, Syreeta McFadden notes that the "Formation" video depicts archetypal southern black women "in ways that we haven't seen frequently represented in popular art or culture".[195] Melissa Harris-Perry of Time magazine said that "Beyoncé publicly embraced explicitly feminist blackness at a politically risky moment."[196]


On April 23, 2019, the third anniversary of the release of Lemonade, the project was released to non-Tidal streaming services, with the project re-charting at number nine on the US Billboard 200, as well as number one on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart.[197] The only added content to the wide streaming release, "Sorry" (original demo), debuted at number four on the R&B Songs chart.[198]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal and Spotify.[199][200]

Lemonade – Disc one (Audio)
1."Pray You Catch Me"
  • Garrett
  • Beyoncé
  • Jeremy McDonald
2."Hold Up"
3."Don't Hurt Yourself" (featuring Jack White)
  • White
  • Beyoncé
  • Derek Dixie[a]
  • Gordon
  • Rhoden
  • Beyoncé
5."6 Inch" (featuring The Weeknd)
6."Daddy Lessons"
7."Love Drought"
  • Dean
  • Beyoncé
  • Beyoncé
  • Berry II
9."Forward" (featuring James Blake)
  • Blake
  • Beyoncé
  • Blake
  • Beyoncé
10."Freedom" (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
11."All Night"
Total length:45:42


  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer.
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer / director.
  • "Hold Up" features background vocals by MeLo-X.
  • "Don't Hurt Yourself" features background vocals by Ruby Amanfu.
  • "Sorry" features background vocals by Chrissy Collins.
  • "6 Inch" features additional vocals by Belly.
  • "Freedom" features background vocals by Arrow Benjamin.
  • "All Night" features background vocals by Diplo and King Henry.

Sample credits[199]


Credits from Beyoncé's official website.[201]

  • Beyoncé – vocals
  • Eric Gorfain – orchestrations (tracks 1, 3, 11)
  • Jon Brion - string arrangements (tracks 1, 3, 11)
  • String section (tracks 1, 3, 11)
    • Eric Gorfain and Crystal Alforque, Briana Bandy, Charlie Bisharat, Denise Briese, Anna Bulbrook, Susan Chatman, Daphne Chen, Ryan Cross, Richard Dodd, Lisa Dondlinger, Vanessa Fairbairn-Smith, Alma Fernandez, Ira Glansbeek, Terry Glenny, Neel Hammond, Fats Kaplan, Leah Katz, Greg Koller, Gina Kronstadt, John Krovoza, Songa Lee, Serena McKinney, Marisa Kuney, Ginger Murphy, Geoff Osika, Grace Park, Radu Pieptea, Katie Sloan, Lindsey Smith-Trestle, Ina Veli, Josefina Vergara, Mark Watrous, Amy Wickman, Rodney Wirtz, Adrienne Woods, Yelena Yegoryan
  • Greg Koller - keyboard (tracks 1, 11) and bass (track 11)
  • Kevin Garrett – piano (track 1)
  • Jr Blender – guitar and drum programming (track 2)
  • MeLo-X – background vocals (track 2)
  • Jack White – vocals, bass guitar (track 3)
  • Derek Dixie – additional drum programming (tracks 3, 11), additional instrumentation (track 5, 11), drums and drum programming (track 6), band session leader (track 6), horns arrangement (tracks 11, 12)
  • Mark Watrous – hammond organ (track 3)
  • Patrick Keeler – drums (track 3)
  • Ruby Amanfu – background vocals (track 3)
  • B. Carr – additional programming (track 4)
  • Chrissy Collins – background vocals (track 4)
  • The Weeknd – featured artist on vocals (track 5)
  • Belly (Ahmad Balshe) – additional vocals (track 5)
  • Horns (tracks 6 and 11)
    • Randolph Ellis, Peter Ortega - saxophones
    • Christopher Gray - trumpet
    • Richard Lucchese - trombone
    • Too Many Zooz – additional horns (track 6)
  • Patrick Williams – harmonica (track 6)
  • Erick Walls – guitar (track 6)
  • Courtney Leonard – bass (track 6)
  • Mike Dean – keyboards and drum programming (track 7)
  • Vincent Berry II – piano (track 8)
  • Jack Chambazyan – synths (track 8)
  • Boots – synth arrangement (track 8), additional programming (track 10)
  • Kendrick Lamar – featured artist on vocals (track 10)
  • Marcus Miller – bass (tracks 10, 11)
  • Canei Finch – additional piano (track 10)
  • Myles William – additional programming (track 10)
  • Arrow Benjamin – background vocals (track 10)
  • King Henry – guitar, drum programming and background vocals (track 11)
  • Diplo – drum programming and background vocals (track 11)
  • Matt Doe – trumpet (track 12)
  • Swae Lee (Khalif Brown)ad-libs (track 12)
  • Big Freedia – additional background ad-libs (track 12)

For production credits see track list

  • Beyoncé – producer (all tracks), vocal producer (all tracks), executive producer
  • Stuart White – recording engineer (all tracks), mixing engineer (tracks 1–4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12)
  • Ramon Rivas – second engineer (tracks 1–6, 7, 9, 10)
  • John Cranfield – assistant recording engineer (track 1), assistant mixing engineer (tracks 1–4, 6, 7, 9, 10)
  • Eric Caudieux – Pro Tools editing and keyboards recording engineer (tracks 1, 11) Pro Tools editing/recording (track 3)
  • Jon Shacter – assistant engineer (track 2)
  • Vance Powell – recording engineer (track 3)
  • Joshua V. Smith – recording engineer, additional overdubs and Pro Tools editing/recording (track 3)
  • Lester Mendoza – additional instrumentation recording (track 3), band recording (track 6), horns recording (track 11) engineer
  • Derek Dixie – assistant recording engineer (track 6)
  • Mike Dean – track engineer (track 7)
  • Tony Maserati – mixing engineer (tracks 5, 8, 11)
  • Tyler Scott – assistant mixing engineer (tracks 5, 11)
  • James Krausse – assistant mixing engineer (track 5)
  • Miles Comaskey – assistant mixing engineer (track 8)
  • Jaycen Joshua – mixing engineer (track 12)
  • Maddox Chhim, David Nakaji, Arthur Chambazyan – assistant mixing engineers (track 12)
  • Dave Kutch – mastering engineer
  • Teresa LaBarbera Whites – A&R executive


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[151] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[264] Gold 15,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[265] 2× Platinum 80,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[267] 2× Platinum 101,000[266]
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[268] Gold 10,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[269] Platinum 40,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[270] Gold 7,500^
Poland (ZPAV)[271] Platinum 20,000*
South Korea 2,861[272]
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[273] Gold 10,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[275] Platinum 387,000[274]
United States (RIAA)[276] 3× Platinum 1,554,000[5]
Worldwide 2,500,000[277]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

List of release dates, showing region, format(s), label(s) and reference(s).
Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
Various April 23, 2016 (2016-04-23) Streaming (Tidal only) [199]
April 24, 2016 (2016-04-24) Digital download [278]
May 6, 2016 (2016-05-06) CD + DVD [279][280]
South Korea May 18, 2016 (2016-05-18) Sony Music [281]
Japan July 6, 2016 (2016-07-06) [282]
Various September 15, 2017 (2017-09-15) LP [283]
April 23, 2019 (2019-04-23) Streaming (all services) [51]

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External links[edit]