Pop Culture Advent Calendar, Day 6: Beychella
Inspired by NPR, every day (gulp) from December 1st to 24th, I will be highlighting
a pop culture moment from this year that I loved. Today I talk about the love of my life.
I generally try and keep social media away from me, as I tend towards overuse. I don't have the apps on my phone, especially Twitter. There's only one, person, one star, one event that would have me feverishly redownload the app, and that's anything Beyoncé.
Coachella, newly christened Beychella, Beyoncé’s return to the stage in eighteen months, after the Formation world tour and having twins, was a musical triumph. A parade of hits and bangers so cleverly interpreted by the voracious HBCU reminiscent band and orchestra.
I watched it on a sleepy Sunday morning, screaming with other women on Twitter and in my group chats. I love Beyoncé, but what I love about her most is how happy she makes black women, how much she uplifts them through her music and her wider brand. I remember watching 'Year of 4' on 2011 or 2012 and Beyoncé saying 'I'm always thinking about what women are thinking.' This wondering has bled through her music for years and years, from the 'Independent Woman' Destiny's Child era through to the Dangerously in Love era, right through to Lemonade. It’s present in every album cycle, and, as time has gone on, centred on black women, especially black women who share her Southern USA roots. Her mash up of Sorry and Me Myself and I, for example, two songs over a decade apart, coming together to affirm Beyoncé’s message of anger at her guy and gathering enough courage to say she alone is enough.
I always think 'how is Beyoncé going to beat this?' but she does every time. Beychella showcased her deep discography in many different ways, from mashups to band breaks to straight delivery, but it also an intertextual concert, full of references to Nigerian activist musician Fela Kuti and the delivery of the US black national anthem, Lift Every Voice. Ms Tina Lawson made an Instagram post about how she was worried that it was a very black show in front of a very white audience, but Beyoncé said it was the right and best thing to do at this stage in her career. She just keeps getting better and more interesting, which is a true feat over 20 years into her career.
I just love her!