Remember some months back, when we talked about how Beyoncé was out-Beyoncéing herself on her recent “Vogue” cover? Well...SHE’S DOING IT AGAIN Y’ALL!
Is it fair to say that I have gotten to the point where I no longer even understand Beyoncé? I know that she is only human. I know that she has worked incredibly hard her whole life. I know that she and I have the same numbers of hours in a day. But, after her most recent gift to the world, “Homecoming” on Netflix, none of these facts placate me anymore. Ms. Carter is simply operating on another level than the rest of us.
If (by any stretch of the imagination) you did not already know, Beyoncé’s Coachella performance which took place last spring was filmed for the captivating new Netflix documentary, “Homecoming.” Spliced between footage of the knockout, energy-packed, two-hour performance are raw clips of her rehearsal process, inspiring and affirmational quotes from famous female leaders and intimate snippets of her personal life with family and friends.
In the equally two hour-long documentary, Beyoncé delves into the real work that is required to perform and produce legendary concerts on her level. Four months of music rehearsals (which paid off because she sounded amazing), four months of dance rehearsals (which paid off because she looked amazing), and a rigorous, strict diet (which paid off because of the aforementioned details) were just a few of the sacrifices she had to make in order to turn Beychella into a reality.
By documenting all the time leading up to the performance, we get to see Yoncé at all of her extremes. We see her when she is most vulnerable, most nervous, most tapped into boss chick mood, most concerned, most empowered, most caring, and of course, most fierce. We briefly see interactions with her three children (Blue Ivy performing an adorable cover of her mother’s track that sounded better than every human in my high school choir), FaceTime calls with her husband when she is able to fit into an old costume, and the sheer joy on her face after watching some of her bionic ladies attack the dance floor.
In “Homecoming,” she speaks about her dreams for the production with laser focus and precision, communicating her visions of an enormous, majority-black marching band and Egyptian pyramid-style set. From start to finish, this woman has a hand in her work. Of all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this performance, Beyoncé’s was the most shed.
A little while into the film/performance, a voice rings out. “Check this out! After Beyoncé perform. After she do the dance. Coachella gotta rename Coachella to Beychella! New name alert!” It’s the now-familiar shouts of rapper/producer DJ Khaled, right before the intro of “Bow Down” and these words of laudation would be proven instantly true. As the first black female to headline the 20-year-old internationally revered festival, Ms. Carter knew that her time on stage had to be more than just a performance. It had to be a reckoning.
The overarching theme of the performance was, in fact, an HBCU homecoming. In the tradition of many historically black colleges and universities, students, alumni, friends, family, all gather together touting food, drinks, and plenty of fun. There are huge performances, impeccably organized bands, drill or step teams, fierce dancers, iconic songs and two-steps, all in the name of celebrating and preserving black joy.
The performance touched a vast majority of black culture. She harkened back to age-old African American traditions with songs like “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem, but also propelled representations of black people way forward with the futuristic moves and alien-like styling of the sibling dance duo, Les Twins.
Woven into her discography were songs that hold specific prominence in black American communities such as “Swag Surfin’” and “Before I Let Go,” both of which are assured staples of any summer cookout, barbeque or homecoming. My good sis sang about Cognac while harnessed into a crane floating above the audience, for goodness sakes! Everything about Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was decidedly for the culture.
It is easy to forget sometimes that Beyoncé is now running the ship on a crew of 5. This whole process was undertaken by a wife and mother of three. Her rap mogul husband Jay Z, firstborn daughter Blue Ivy, and precious baby twins Rumi and Sir Carter all make mini cameos in the film, reminding viewers of just how much she has to juggle in a day.
Simply put, Beyoncé is an incredible woman and represents the best of what human beings can be. Hard-working, ambitious, generous, celebratory, proud, emotional, vulnerable, honest, and then, she has the nerve to be stunning too! Even if you are not a fan of her music or style (in which case, you may find it hard to ever earn my trust or respect), there is much honor to be given to her work ethic, discipline, respect of the craft, and devotion to the audiences that witness it.
Beyoncé knows the world is watching her, waiting to react to whatever she is willing to share. Perhaps, this adds unwanted nerves. Perhaps, it pressurizes her to perfection. As evident as her passion for the work is, I imagine it becomes taxing to always try and top yourself when you’re known for always making history. For that reason, I think it’s important we celebrate some of the best, light-hearted, heartwarming, and hysterical Twitter reactions to “Homecoming” on Netflix.
I Went To Beychella and All I Got Was This Towel
One of the best parts of watching “Homecoming” on Netflix, is getting to rewind and focus in on the audience members’ reactions to seeing Queen B in person. There are tons of mouths agape, streaming tears, and exuberant screams, but none quite as gleeful as Tyler Cunningham’s who can be seen around the two hour mark catching Beyoncé’s sweat towel and going absolutely ballistic over it.
BeyHive or Bust
Beyoncé aggressively changes her diet, goes on vocal rest, breastfeeds twins while rehearsing, practices 15 hours a day, is constantly behind the scenes and she’s “overrated”? Some of y’all kill me. Just say you like lazy artists who contribute one lackluster vocal note and go.— Preston Mitchum (@PrestonMitchum) April 17, 2019
A wise person once said, “never trust anyone who loves to hate on Beyoncé.” It’s me. I’m the wise person. And I say this almost every day. As previously mentioned, many people are not fans of her or her music; they think she gets too much praise and despise the way she is put on a pedestal akin to royalty. In no world would I suggest that loving Beyoncé is mandatory, but the blatant disrespect of her grit, artistry, and self-discipline has got to be put to rest.
Beyoncé’s-Eye View Shot
Can we just give a virtual round of applause for every camera operative, editor, grip, lighting tech, sound designer, creative director, production coordinator and anyone else who had a hand in the technical construction of this monster performance? Pulling it off appeared to be a monumental feat and in the words of the maestro herself, the crew was “Flawless.”
Homecoming, Not Homemade
See the paragraph above. Then, insert all the clapping hand emojis you can muster.
Personal Shout Out From the Former-FLOTUS Michelle Obama
As if one of my sheroes releasing a surprise video was not enough, Mrs. Michelle Obama had to go off and do the same thing. “Hey Queen,” she starts off, “Girl, you have done it again. Constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly.” This personal high-five from the former First Lady confirms what I have always known to be true, Michelle Obama and I could be really great friends. Can’t you just picture us all cozied up with “Homecoming” on repeat in the background as we talk about how much we like Barack? I know I can!
The love for Beyoncé is no joke, y’all. We claim her for a reason! Her fervent, unapologetic pride is a blessing for everyone who finds themselves at the intersection of black and woman. We go hard for her because she insists on going hard for us.
“It’s hard to believe that after all these years, I was the first African American woman to headline Coachella,” Beyoncé says in the documentary. “It was important to me that everyone who had never seen themselves represented felt like they were on that stage with us.” The music, moves, and mantras she provides, elevate us to her plane. “I Slay,” “Get In Formation,” “Bow Down,” “Me, Myself, And I,” “I Ain’t Sorry,” “To the Left,” these are not just lyrics, they’re lifelines. Words that tether us to our own strength and self-confidence. Anthems that remind us to live in the fullness of who we are as women and never back down from our own potential.