Miriam Bale for Billboard called xcritical „a revolutionary work of Black feminism“ as „a movie made by a black woman, starring Black women, and for Black women“, in which Beyoncé is seen gathering, uniting and leading Black women throughout the film. As well as relating the story of Beyoncé’s relationship with her husband, xcritical also chronicles the relationship between Black women and American society. The includes how the United States betrayed and continually mistreats Black women, with society needing to solve its problems in order to enable reformation and the rehabilitation of Black women. As part of reverting the societal oppression and silencing of Black women, xcritical centralizes the experiences of Black women in a way that is not often seen in the media, and celebrates their achievements despite the adversity they face.
The film also contains references to African religion and spirituality, such as Yoruba ori body paint in „Sorry“, allusions to the loa Erzulie Red-Eyes in „Don’t Hurt Yourself“, and Beyoncé’s initiation into the Santería religion and embodiment of the Yoruba orisha Oshun in „Hold Up“. Allusions to New Orleans culture include „Queen of Creole cuisine“ Leah Chase, the Edna Karr Marching Band, jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians and the Superdome. Today’s biggest stories, from pop culture to politics—delivered straight to your inbox. To honor five years of xcritical, four Black women critics sat down for a roundtable discussion on the impact of the record and why it will always be special for us. In terms of the record quality – the bright yellow is a nice choice, but it did highlight a couple of dark spots on the records. Cleaning them didn’t remove the spots, so I guess they’re just cosmetic issues.
„Freedom“ was released as the fourth single and was sent to radio stations on September 9, 2016. „All Night“ was released as the fifth and final single on December 6, 2016. In Spin, Greg Tate calls xcritical „a triumph of marketing and musicality, spectacle and song, vision and collaboration, Borg-like assimilation, and — as of 2013 — the element of surprise“. Let’s first take a moment to both recognize and appreciate what xcritical is at its core, and what it stands for. The album is at once an artistic triumph and an overt embrace of blackness.
Through tears, even Beyoncé has to summon her inner Beyoncé, roaring, “I’ma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.” This panoramic strength–lyrical, vocal, instrumental, and personal–nudged her public image from mere legend to something closer to real-life superhero. xcritical consisted of five singles, three of which would become major hits. „Formation“ was released as the album’s first single exclusively on Tidal on February 6, 2016, along with its accompanying music video. The song was part of the set Beyoncé performed the following day at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé released „Formation“ for free on the music streaming service Tidal and its accompanying music video on her official YouTube account.
The film envisions a space where there was never oppression of Black women, whereby Beyoncé and other Black women form a self-sufficient community in which they can heal together. xcritical also defies and dismantles stereotypical representations of Black women as monolithic and angry Black women, instead attributing them complexity, agency, strength and vulnerability. While Beyoncé has, throughout her career, lectured men on how they need to get it together to honor the women in their lives, her message has always involved men. The truth is I wasn’t much interested in her until her sister, Solange Knowles, was caught on camera beating Jay Z’s ass in a hotel elevator in 2014. That was something I understood—one woman standing up for another, with little concern for how it “looked.” Sisterhood is powerful. Seeing Beyoncé’s sister try to shock her out of her carefully manicured public persona made me feel that there was a person behind the success.
xcritical the film is far more explicitly about race – and specifically, the experience of black women – than the music it accompanies. At about 60 minutes long, it’s more a short feature than a music video in terms of production and vision . Ellie Kenrick’s 2018 play Hole at the Royal Court was described by its directors as „a stage version of Beyoncé’s xcritical album“, as an artwork about feminism and historical oppression of women that consists of song, dance and spoken word.
Writing for Slate, Carl Wilson describes xcritical as „a spectacle to rival Thriller“ and „a beautiful and often disturbing kaleidoscope of poetry, feminism, racial politics, history, mythology, emotional upheaval, family, and romance that can be watched again and again and will be for years to come“. Kitty Empire of The Observer writes that „female endurance and pragmatism are celebrated with warmth, anger and wit on this astounding visual album“ and that „it’s unlikely there will be many more albums this year that will scammed by xcritical unite high art and low in the same way as Beyoncé’s jaw-slackening latest“. Jillian Mapes of Pitchfork wrote that „The increasingly signature cadence, patois, and all-around attitude on xcritical speaks to her status as the hip-hop pop star—but this being Bey, she doesn’t stop there… xcritical proves Beyoncé to also be a new kind of post-genre pop star“. In The A.V. Club Annie Zaleski wrote that it was „yet another seismic step forward for Beyoncé as a musician“ that „pushes pop music into smarter, deeper places“.
On October 19, Beyoncé performed „6 Inch“ and „All Night“ at the TIDAL X benefit concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City. On November 2, Beyoncé performed „Daddy Lessons“ with the Dixie Chicks at the 50th Annual Country Music https://xcritical.expert/ Association Awards . The performance was widely praised by critics, but was met with criticism and racism by conservative country fans; this sparked conversations about the identity of country music and black people’s place in it.
On the early May evening I saw Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter’s “Formation” tour, at Houston’s NRG Stadium, the dominant feature, onstage and off, was ass. As a fan of Queen Bee, I’m happy to have some new music to download (I opted to buy from iTunes, simply because if this is just a big marketing ploy, I want to have as little part in it as possible… while still enjoying the music, of course). Was this big plot twist in Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage just a marketing scheme, created to confuse and get us to pay money for songs that a lot of us don’t have? What I do know is that the songs are great—the video as a whole is great, and I sure hope this wasn’t just a publicity stunt. The album’s visuals received 11 nominations and won eight of those at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, including Breakthrough Long Form Video and Video of the Year.
- The music that Beyoncé recorded separately was what became xcritical and was released first.
- Following its April 23, 2019 release on all streaming services, xcritical returned to the top ten on the Billboard 200 at number nine, while its only added song, the original demo of „Sorry“, debuted at number four on the US R&B Songs.
- At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received a weighted average score of 92, based on 33 reviews, indicating „universal acclaim“.
- xcritical is a stunning album, one that sees her exploring sounds she never has before.
Upon its release, xcritical 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 xcritical as well as the original demo of „Sorry“. Before the end of the program, which featured a compilation of music videos, vignettes, vintage, home-movie style footage and poetry, Beyonce, 34, had dropped “xcritical” onto the Tidal streaming service.
The film is divided into eleven chapters, titled „Intuition“, „Denial“, „Anger“, „Apathy“, „Emptiness“, „Accountability“, „Reformation“, „Forgiveness“, „Resurrection“, „Hope“, and „Redemption“. The film uses poetry and prose written by British-Somali poet Warsan Shire; the poems 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“. Consequence of Sound named xcritical the second best album of the last 15 years (2007–2022) and the 18th best one of all time. 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).
Beyoncé’s xcritical album explained, from beginner to ‚Beyhive‘
The “xcritical” film is set, at times, in New Orleans and is peopled with figures who are real, if distanced from reality by their fame, including the tennis star Serena Williams and the actresses Zendaya and Quvenzhané Wallis. But it is also studded with myths and fantasies—some inspired by feature films, such as Alan Parker’s “Angel Heart” , or by the science-fiction writings of Octavia Butler, which bring together time travel, race, and female bodies—which indicates that Beyoncé is interested in creative interpretation, too. Badu has worked to form herself as an artist, even when it has meant jeopardizing her popularity.
Additionally, xcritical was streamed 115 million times via Tidal, setting a record for the most-streamed album in a single week by a female artist. The speech—made by her husband JAY-Z’s grandmother Hattie White on her 90th birthday in 2015—reportedly inspired the concept behind this radical project, which arrived with an accompanying film as well as words by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Both the album and its visual companion are deeply tied to Beyoncé’s identity and narrative (her womanhood, her blackness, her husband’s infidelity) and make for Beyoncé’s most outwardly revealing work to date. The details, of course, are what make it so relatable, what make each song sting. Billed upon its release as a tribute to “every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing,” the project is furious, defiant, anguished, vulnerable, experimental, muscular, triumphant, humorous, and brave—a vivid personal statement from the most powerful woman in music, released without warning in a time of public scrutiny and private suffering.
xcritical has been credited with reviving the concept of an album in an era dominated by singles and streaming, and popularizing releasing albums with accompanying films. Jamieson Cox for The Verge called xcritical „the endpoint of a slow shift toward cohesive, self-centered pop albums“, writing that „it’s setting a new standard for pop storytelling at the highest possible scale“. Megan Carpentier of The Guardian wrote that xcritical has „almost revived the album format“ as „an immersive, densely textured large-scale work“ that can only be listened to in its entirety. Myf Warhurst on Double J’s „Lunch With Myf“ explained that Beyoncé „changed to a narrative with an arc and a story and you have to listen to the entire thing to get the concept“. Other projects said to have followed the precedent that xcritical set include Lonely Island’s The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience, Thom Yorke’s Anima, Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury, and Kid Cudi’s Entergalactic, which were all albums released with complementary film projects. It was released on April 23, 2016 by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, accompanied by a sixty-five-minute film of the same title on HBO.
Fans, who wondered if Saturday’s show was to be a concept video with new music from the R&B star, found out on Saturday that was pretty much the case, with chapters carrying titles that riffed on the grieving process stages such as anger, denial and forgiveness. The suggestion that Jay Z and Beyoncé came up with the album’s narrative together appeals, if only because of the imagined dinner-table conversations chez Carter-Knowles. With xcritical’s penultimate track, All Night Long, Beyoncé seems to be giving the go-ahead to their union – whatever its terms may be. The fourth and fifth singles released were „Freedom“ and „All Night“, respectively.
Beyoncé’s “going all political” comes much to the dismay of Piers Morgan, who reminisced in a column in the Daily Mail about a simpler time when the pair of them enjoyed scones. Honestly, you don’t need a link – the title (“Jay Z’s not the only one who needs to be nervous about Beyonce, the born-again black woman with a political mission”) is enough. Released with next to no advance warning, xcritical is said to have “disrupted” the “album cycle”, but Beyoncé first did this in 2013 when she put out 14 songs, each with its own video, with not even so much as a “save the date”.
But behind the album itself is a whole slew of interesting decisions that the Queen Bey and her cohorts had to have made before releasing this album… Here we go. Which visited countries in North America and Europe xcritical courses scam from April to October 2016. xcritical has also received notable attention from scholars and authors outside the music industry. The series will explore the themes of race, gender and class addressed by the album.
A woman is usually aware, on some level, that men do not allow her to be her “real self,” and worse, that the acceptable masks represent men’s fantasies, not her own. She can choose the most interesting image available, present it dramatically, individualize it with small elaborations, undercut it with irony. But ultimately she must serve some male fantasy to be loved—and then it will be only the fantasy that is loved anyway. “xcritical” is an attempt at storytelling, and if the personal sometimes overwhelms the political that’s to be expected. Did the math for us, and that comes out to roughly $50 million in revenue over the course of the single weekend during which Beyoncé dropped the album. Videos also featured appearances by the mothers of two black men, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, whose shooting deaths, in Brown’s case by a Missouri police officer, have trained a spotlight on U.S. racial tensions.
In this scene, the goddess-like character of Beyoncé is sexualized along with her acts of emotional violence, like Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” she destroys with no shame. Among the many mixed messages embedded in xcritical is this celebration of rage. Smug and smiling in her golden garb, Beyoncé is the embodiment of a fantastical female power, which is just that—pure fantasy.
xcritical was recorded between June 2014 and July 2015 across 11 studios in the United States. Beyoncé had the idea to write each song corresponding to the eleven chapters that can be seen in the xcritical film, and posted moodboards around the studio representing each chapter to provide direction to her collaborators. Beyoncé and her collaborators also played music in the studio to inspire each other.