Review: Beyoncé – ‘Black Parade’

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Beyonce's 'Black Parade' is an anthem we should all be listening to right now. If not for its musicality and beautiful lyrics, then at least for the support that it streaming will give to black owned small businesses.

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On Juneteenth, Beyoncé surprised fans by dropping her latest track ‘Black Parade’ which celebrates the end of slavery, her southern roots, and black lives in general. Of course, like most of Beyoncé’s songs, ‘Black Parade’ is a powerful and catchy anthem that’ll get you dancing in no time. But the importance of this song lies in its lyrics and symbolism, which is what this review will focus on instead of its composition and musicality.

Alongside the song, Beyoncé told fans how they can support black owned businesses through her self-curated resource The Black Parade Route. Proceeds from ‘Black Parade’ will also go towards BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, which aims to support black owned small-businesses in need. On YouTube alone, ‘Black Parade’ has 1.4 million views, so when factoring in Spotify, Prime Music, Apple Music and all other streaming services, Beyoncé’s latest hit will be giving fans their Bey-fix whilst majorly supporting the black community.

Lyrically, Beyoncé’s latest track connects with her southern roots and African ancestry, whilst critiquing society for its history of racism and being anti-black. For instance, in the first verse Beyoncé states she’s “goin’ back to the South”, “where my roots ain’t watered down”. This is likely referencing her experiences with whitewashing throughout her career; from the L’oreal adverts in 2008, to the figure of her in Madame Tussauds, New York. Despite these instances, Beyoncé uses her music to celebrate her culture and race, with several references to African heritage throughout ‘Black Parade’ (to relics, clothing, and location). Beyoncé expresses pride in her blackness throughout the chorus, repeating “motherland drip on me”, stating “I can’t forget my history” (despite the frequent erasure of black history in society and education), and most importantly singing “melanin, melanin, my drip is skin deep” celebrating the colour of her skin.

Intertwining ‘Black Parade’ and its Juneteenth release with the Black Lives Matter protests, Beyoncé highlights the on-going racism prevalent within society world-wide. Singing “being black, maybe that’s the reason why / they always mad”, she clarifies what some people still refuse to accept – the colour of a persons skin immediately gives them privilege or puts them at a disadvantage. George Floyd was not knelt on for over 8 minutes simply over a cheque, he was brutally murdered due to the fact that he was black. To continue referring Floyd and the protests, Beyoncé mentions “rubber bullets boucin’ off me” to highlight the ‘nonlethal’ weapons that are being used with intent to cause harm. In the following line, she sings “made a picket sign off your picket fence”, juxtaposing the white American dream associated with suburban living, and the on-going protests that are aiming to dismantle this hierarchical way of life.

Beyoncé’s ‘Black Parade’ is a beautifully written, powerful, and political song that uses clever lyricism and writing techniques to both subtlety and overtly get across the message that black lives have, do, and always will matter. Even if you are not a fan of the Queen Bee, listening to this song is just one way that you can support the equalisation of black lives for free, through the proceeds made off your streaming/viewing. You can now also stream the acoustic version of ‘Black Parade’, which is even more impactful.

You can listen to Black Parade on YouTube, courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment LLC / Columbia Records.

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