“Black Parade” by Beyoncé

Published: June 20, 2020
Single artwork of Beyonce's "Black Parade" Watching Beyoncé emerge as a historic-level performer and artist, whose popular work is both singular and teaching, has been one of my greatest pleasures of the last decade as a music fan. Her last two solo albums, BEYONCÉ (2013) and Lemonade (2016), were instant classics of the contemporary 0Black canon; her landmark 2019 concert film and live album Homecoming capped off a decade of breathless creative and commercial ascent and skillfully reframed her entire discography within the context of Black music’s rich history.

In many ways, “Black Parade,” the surprise single Beyoncé released on the night of Juneteenth, is a consistent extension of Homecoming and auxiliary projects EVERYTHING IS LOVE (2018) and The Lion King: The Gift (2019), where celebrating Blackness and Black sounds were main concerns. But, here, everything is better. Her vocal is an elastic, shapeshifting thing that deftly switches between different flows and melodies. Her music is swelling, polyrhythmic, and lovely, anchored somewhere between the HBCU marching band tradition of Homecoming and the thrilling diasporic sounds of The Gift. Her words are sharp and vibrant and continue to tell stories of community, self-love, spirituality and powerfully affirm that the color of her skin is the source of her worth.

Crucially, “Black Parade” is attuned to our moment in history and arises as a song of protest. Though it shines with solidarity, it simmers with a palpable anger.

Trust me, they gon’ need an army (Ah)
Rubber bullets bouncin’ off me (Ah)
Made a picket sign off your picket fence (Ah)
Take it as a warning (Ah, ah)Beyoncé, 'Black Parade'

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