The 60-minute “visual album” has set off a digital scavenger hunt among fans, both hardcore and casual.
The “Lemonade” storyline about a woman’s ride on an emotional roller coaster after being betrayed by the love of her life has off a tidal wave of speculation about how much of the material was drawn from Beyonce’s own experience in her marriage to music mogul Jay Z. Rachel Roy, a woman alleged to have been linked romantically to Jay Z, was swarmed on social media by angry Beyonce fans amid speculation that she’s the “Becky with the good hair” referred to in one of the songs addressing the pain of infidelity.
Roy fanned the flames herself by posting on Instagram: “Good hair don’t care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. live in the light #nodramaqueens.”
There’s also been much chatter about dissecting the dreamscape-like imagery in the film and efforts to catalog all of the cameo appearances. Among the notables are tennis great Serena Williams, Disney Channel star Zendaya, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhane Wallis and the mothers of three young black men recently shot while unarmed by police: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; and Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown.
All of this makes the arrival of “Lemonade” — the album dropped Saturday night for streaming via Jay Z’s Tidal service just as the film’s ended on HBO — the kind of multimedia event that money can’t buy. From noon ET on Saturday (nine hours before the film’s debut on HBO) through midday Monday, Twitter counted 4.1 million tweets related to “Lemonade.” HBO said the movie generated 696,000 tweets while the movie aired.
HBO declined comment when pressed for details on how “Lemonade” landed on its air. The project had no advance fanfare until last week, when a few cryptic tweets with video snippets touted the Saturday 9 p.m. ET premiere. HBO has worked with Beyonce in the past, on 2014’s concert docu “On the Run” and 2013’s “Beyonce: Life is But a Dream.”
After a roughly 27-hour window on HBO, “Lemonade” moved off the pay cabler’s platform and is now streaming along with the album on Tidal, the year-old subscription music service backed by Jay Z, Beyonce and other artists. Apple’s iTunes began offering the album for sale late Sunday.
Both HBO and Tidal used “Lemonade” as a marketing platform. HBO offered a free preview over the weekend, in the hopes of capitalizing on the buzz for “Lemonade” and the “Game of Thrones” season premiere to draw new subscribers to its linear and digital offerings. Tidal, which has had a rocky run since its relaunch last year as an artist-friendly music service, is offering a 30-day free preview to all those who have flocked to the site to check out “Lemonade.”
In the bigger picture, Beyonce has earned much praise for her artistry and courage in baring her soul in music and film. The Root dubbed the project “A Searing Ode to Grown Black Womanness,” while Slate called it “a phenomenal visual album, fascinating both visually and musically.”
Reps for Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment declined comment. Her Formation World Tour begins Wednesday in Miami.