In a world premiere event on HBO Saturday night, Beyoncé debuted an hour-long visual album to support her new 12-track record, which Tidal released immediately following the special. Essentially an art film done in lieu of singular music videos for individual tracks, it was visually stunning and compelling by many standards.
Locations — a plantation with its grand home and nearby wood cabins where slaves would have lived; a city street where Bey wreaked havoc on cars with a baseball bat and monster truck; a parking garage where she unleashed some anger; underwater; on the Gulf coastline — often had an empty, abandoned feel, symbolic of lyrics that told stories of Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, and Redemption, as title cards for chapters, of sorts, indicated throughout the hour.
Tennis star Serena Williams, Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of of the Southern Wild), actress and singer Zendaya, actress Amandla Stenberg, and Beyoncé’s husband Jay Z, were among those making appearances. Between songs Beyoncé recited poetry written by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British writer. And whether the album is or isn’t telling her story, that’s part of the genius of Beyoncé: her ability to get people talking and interpreting her work is undeniable.
All of which is to say, audiences will contemplate Lemonade for the better part of the next year. But for now, let’s look back on the HBO event with some GIFs — because this is 2016, and what better way to celebrate the genius of an artist like Beyoncé than with some moving images.