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The North Star

The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

The North Star

The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

The North Star

Covering Cowboy Carter

Beyoncé Knowles decides to pull a reverse Taylor Swift by taking up the challenge of transitioning from pop star to country star in one album.  

In her eighth studio album, she collabs with country star favorites including Brittney Spencer, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. 

The album was hinted to in a Verizon ad and officially revealed in a Super Bowl LVIII commercial. The same night after the commercial aired Knowles released the lead singles for her new project, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES.” 

According to her website, this is only Act Two of three following her previous album “RENAISSANCE.” “COWBOY CARTER” was released on March 29, 2024.  

“I feel honored to be the first black woman with the number one single on the Hot Country Songs chart. My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant,” said Knowles according to Beyoncé.com 


Knowles declared clearly that this was not a country album in the days preceding its release, even projecting the words “THIS AIN’T A COUNTRY ALBUM.” THIS IS A ‘BEYONCÉ’ ALBUM” in marketing on the exterior of several museums in New York City. It is meant to blend different genres together.  

The album’s line-up consists of twenty-seven tracks with eleven features. I will be covering each one and judging it on three things;  

The first is if it sounds good or not, it would not be right to say every song is a good song on a twenty-seven-track album.  

The second is the sound. If the song sounds like a regular country song or a ‘Beyoncé’ song. Meaning does it have more country aspects, rather than the blending that she spoke about.  

The third is the story behind it. Most songs have deep backstories that make it more important to the listeners. It pulls at the heart strings.   

    The first track to open the second stage of Knowles three-part trilogy. It starts off with overlapping harmonization of beautiful vocals, then goes into the pre-chorus and chorus with a country accent, but in the first verse, she uses her famous chest voice. The closing is the same as the opening, a lot like being in a church and rejoicing. 

The lyrics aspect really takes place in the second verse, this song is her stepping ground to let others know that she is not letting the criticism of “not being country ‘nough” stop her from doing anything. 

Before COWBOY CARTER came out, Knowles addressed the harsh criticism she had received about the genre throughout her career.  

According to beyoncé.com “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. Act ii is a result of challenging myself and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work,” Knowels said. 

I give this song six saddles out of ten, it is a great opening, it has many country elements that tie in great with her vocals and she was creating a stance before giving the listener a chance to try and criticize. It has the perfect blend of country and Beyoncé. 

  1. BLACKBIIRD (The Beatles Cover)

This song has four features including Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts.  

It is more harmonized than anything, making it into a calming lullaby like song.  

According to, Paul McCartney said on several occasions that “Blackbird” was inspired by the Little Rock Nine. He also said the term “Blackbird” represented “Black girl” in a 2018 interview with GQ. 

“This was truly a song from me to a black woman, suffering these challenges in the States: “Let me urge you to keep trying, to retain your faith; there is hope,” said Paul McCartney, a member of The Beatles and the song’s original songwriter. 

Hence why Knowles sang the song with four black country singers. Not only is she brining more light to these artists, but she is also bringing more attention to being a black woman in America. 

I give this song six out of ten saddles as well, it is more a country song than a Beyoncé song. It has an important story behind it that brings light to situations that are not easy to talk about. Everyone’s voices mesh very well together.  


A gentle ballad, it explores the feelings and experiences brought on by a sudden uprooting because of losing one’s innocence at an immature age. The song, which is structured like a traditional country anthem, covers the topics of challenges, faith, grief and resiliency.  

This song is more on the country side than the Beyoncé side. I did not like it as a country song as much though. I give it four saddles out of ten, the sound is very mellow, a little too mellow and nothing changes throughout very much from the pacing to the sound.  


The song’s introduction is Knowles’ daughter, Rumi Knowles, who is only six years old. It then opens with a blue grass like sound and a gentle lull feeling, like Rumi said. The relationship between a mother and her children is beautifully honored in this song. 

It is a cute and quiet song, great for mothers, I would say this is a ‘Beyoncé’ song because of the main premise of the song. She wrote it for her children and it is a piece of her heart that they can always carry with them. 

I give it five saddles out of ten. 

  1. MY ROSE

Knowles examines the intricacies of love and vulnerability in this song. “MY ROSE” embraces interpersonal and personal imperfections. Knowles acknowledges her Southern heritage and modern flair with this song, which features sumptuous melodies and vibrant beats. I would say it is more of a ‘Beyoncé’ song.  

It is a short song and does not bring much to the plate. Two saddles out of ten. 


This is not a song, but a brief intermission between the songs to introduce the next track ‘TEXAS HOLD ‘EM’ with the voice of the famous country singer, Willie Nelson. He was a key player in the outlaw country subgenre, which emerged in response to the Nashville sound’s conservative limitations in the late 1960s. 


This song starts off with a mellow banjo, played by Rhiannon Giddens. It goes into a more country pop vibe like song, but it still sounds nice.  

According to this song is considered a love letter to the South and Beyoncé’s southern background; the country ballad features strong western and southern influences. 

I say it is a country song, that I give seven out of ten saddles. It is not much backstory, but it is a good song regardless.  


This song is a good example of meshing the genres together, “it’s a Beyoncé album not a Country album,” said Knowles. This song is blending surf rock components with some fantastic 90s country revival to create a cruising, laid-back rhythm. 

I give it five saddles out of ten.  Not the best song on the track, but it is laid-back and gives off a nice vibe. 

  1. DOLLY P

This is another interlude into the next song, voiced by the legendary country music performer Dolly Parton. In which she compares Jolene to Becky (the one with the good hair).  

  1. JOLENE (Dolly Parton Cover)

Nine saddles out of ten. I loved this cover so much; Knowles took it and made it her own while still leaving the country aspects that others know and love. 


Not a country song at all, for starters. It is still a surprisingly good song though. It is a darker sounding song, the lyrics pace back and forth from praying and dealing with claiming ‘she can become like her father if need be.’ The bridge is in Italian, from a song called ‘Caro Mio Ben’ 

Nine saddles out of ten, this one by far is my favorite.  

  1. SPAGHETTII (feat. Shaboozey)

Linda Martell, the first African American country music artist to achieve commercial success and perform on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, introduces SPAGHETTII. Linda muses on how musical genres are self-limiting conceptions despite being basic ideas. 

This is a rap/hip-hop song, a complete 180 from the entire album so far. In addition, shootouts and showdowns between heroes and villains were a common feature of the Spaghetti Western cinema genre, so most of the lyrics revolve around something similar to the concept. 

Four out of ten saddles. It was not the worst song on the album at all, but it wasn’t good as a hip-hop song either. 


This song starts off with an original country blue grass sound. There is soulful singing with soft guitar and a banjo to back it up. More of a country song, than a ‘Beyoncé’ song.  

The lyrics are about Crocodile tears, or alternatively “alligator tears,” is an idiom that means “false tears,” usually for attention, or sympathy. Beyoncé here is saying to her partner he is just trying to gain sympathy, saying how easily swayed she is by him. 

Seven out of ten saddles.  


In his second appearance on SMOKE HOUR II, Willie Nelson discusses how sometimes you don’t allow yourself the chance to experience something you like until someone you can trust encourages you too. 


This song has a somber start, but then the blue grass guitar comes in and makes it. Knowles and Willie Jones consider how they felt helpless and alone, yet they are inspired to press on regardless of what happens. 

Her and Jones voice mix very beautifully, I give this country-based song seven out of ten saddles. 

  1. II MOST WANTED (feat. Miley Cyrus)

This song is the duo I did not know I needed. Everything about this song from the lyrics of being a ride or die, and being together until the end is everything. 

According to, In July 2023, Gloria Carter, Beyoncé’s mother-in-law, wed Roxanne Wiltshire, her lifelong lover, at a Tribeca New York ceremony. It’s possible that “II Most Wanted” (Two Most Wanted) is an homage to the pair. 

Ten out of ten saddles.

17. LEVII’S JEANS (feat. Post Malone) 

Knowles departs from the standard Country storytelling in LEVII’S JEANS by fusing traditional and Pop instruments with her signature seductive composition. In addition, Post Malone adds something new to the song that is more in line with Knowles regular style. 

Six out of ten saddles.  


This song is short and does not have a back story either. The lyrics are a message to someone about loving what you had, since it is now gone.  

Three out of ten saddles. 


This interlude is an introduction into the next song, ‘YA YA’. 

  1. YA YA

The song is an ode to all the musicians who played on the Chitlin Circuit, pushing the envelope of sound and fostering the legacy that she is now honoring. In the face of discrimination in the music business, many outstanding Black musicians gave performances in these spaces. During their tenure on the circuit, artists like Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, The Jackson 5, Ray Charles and Little Richard also performed. 

I did not like it though. It sounded like the outro to a Minion’s movie, two out of ten saddles. 


The opening verse of Chuck Berry’s song ‘Oh Louisiana’ has been blended into the bridge ‘OH LOUISIANA’ between two other songs. Since Knowles’ mother, Tina Knowles is a Louisiana Creole, it represents her ancestry. 


This song serves as a funky, sensual bridge leading into the album’s last section. 


The song starts with a unique sound. Knowles uses the percussion of her fingernails to create a famous tune that combines with her normal music and exhorts you to dance, fall in love, and move freely. This instrument was created by Dolly Parton. Thanks to this attribute, this is more on the country side than ‘Beyoncé’ side. 

If anything, it is a dance song, not much else even the lyrics tell the listener to dance. 

I give these one three saddles out of ten, not the best one on the album.  


It is not much to say here, it is a continuation from the last song, with the same beat and rhythm minus the fingernails. It changes into the second half of the song. Knowles talks about visiting Marfa, Texas to clear her thoughts.  

Two saddles out of ten, it sounds too similar to the last and it does not do anything to stand out from the other tracks on the album. I would have to say it was not in favor of being country related nor ‘Beyoncé’ related.  


Dolly Parton opens the song with a short energetic message, this song specifically meshes genres together in the sound. It is a mixture of hip-hop, pop, and country in one.  

In this song, Knowles of Merrian-Webster dictionary, ‘a person who resembles an oppressive ruler in their use of harsh authority or power.’ If anything, it has the attitude of a ‘Beyoncé’ song. 

Three out of ten saddles. It meshes the genres together so much the only thing I could actually enjoy was the sound of the beat, the lyrics did not line up with it as much as they should have. 


Definelty a ‘Beyoncé’ song. This song is split into three parts ‘SWEET’, ‘HONEY’ and ‘BUCKIIN’.  

‘SWEET’ opens with a cover of ‘I Fall to Pieces’ by Patsy Cline. Then the song takes a pivot to the other direction as the featured artist on the track, Shaboozey, starts a mellow rap. It keeps the same upbeat rhythm, until it gets to part two, ‘HONEY.’ 

In the second part it is short and smooth to the ears, but then BUCKIIN comes around with the same upbeat rhythm from the first part as Knowles and Pharrell William rap and sing together.  

I give this song three saddles out of ten. Only because the beat is repetitive and annoying to me, but the story behind it serves it right for it to be on this album.  

This song expresses her disappointment with the Grammy Awards for not giving her the Album of the Year award and her resolve to keep improving as an artist and not fall for their trick. In addition, she extends an invitation to disregard criticism from others, implying that doing so will restrict her artistic expression. 


  1. AMEN

The last track on the twenty-seven-track album. One of the country inspirations in the song’s opening is a powerful gospel element. According to Knowles, building all of this has come at a cost, but it has been worthwhile because she does everything to honor those who came before her. It is a good mixture of both ‘Beyoncé’ and country. 

She ends the song with the harmonization from ‘AMERIICAN REQUIEM,’ meaning Cowboy Carter, act ii of Knowles trilogy is done I give this song four out of ten saddles, it does not do much, but it is a good closing.  

It has sparked some controversies by the label, labeling the album as country and adding songs to the album that are not remotely country related. 

But that is the exact point she was making throughout the album.  

Knowles posted an Instagram post about Cowboy Carter. According to Knowles, “an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed” served as the inspiration for the album. She was speaking of her performance with the Dixie Chicks at the 2016 CMA (Country Music Association) Awards. 

According to her appearance striked the ‘#BoycottCMA’ when country fans found out she was going to make an appearance, during her performance someone shouted a racial slur at her.  

This album is Knowles letting critics and haters know that they will in fact not break her soul. With her genre meshing style and brilliant vibrato and vocals, she is taking over the country charts paving a new path and creating history. 

Overall, I would give the album seven out of ten saddles. The concept behind it makes sense, of trying to erase the status quo and mixing genres, which Knowles is known for. This album includes aspects of not only country but rock, pop and R&B as well and I think it is a bold step to make such a distinct album and be able to pull it off.  



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Ashley Phipps
Ashley Phipps, Opinion and Entertainment Writer

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