Lemonade: A Publicity Stunt?

I don’t think Jay Z cheated on Beyoncé.

Despite the hour-long visual album and the angry lyrics that make up Lemonade, all of which makes us think that Jay Z is a vicious cheater who deserves the music industry—and the world—to turn against him. Queen Bey wants us on her side, and the reactions to Lemonade make it clear that we are, in fact, on her side.

However, as much as I love Beyoncé and as much as I want to be angry with Jay Z for hurting Beyoncé (and Blue Ivy) as her sixth album of songs insinuates, the PR girl in me sees through it. Lemonade, while incredible and perfect to sing loudly to while driving, is not much more than a PR stunt. Here’s why:

  1. There was no pre-release publicity.

Twitter campaigns, Facebook posts, Instagram contests…these are all tried-and-true, oft-used PR tactics to highlight an important event. However, Beyoncé abides by her own PR rules. She violates all the norms for generating pre-event discussion and instead incites reactive media coverage. Beyoncé loves the element of surprise, and this is not the first time she’s dropped an album out of nowhere. Not all artists can pull this off—one must have the appeal and fan base of an artist like Beyoncé to make a surprise like this a success, and not to mention a surprise that leaves everyone wondering.

  1. The album is available in very, very limited places.

You have to buy the album on Google Play or iTunes in order to listen to it offline. It’s not available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify or related services…

  1. …But she did release the album on Tidal, Jay Z’s music streaming service.

This one is a pretty common talking point. Why would Beyoncé incriminate her husband, then support his business by releasing her limited-access album about what we think are Jay Z’s discrepancies on his music database? Interesting and counterintuitive.

  1. The visual album, a concept that Beyoncé more or less pioneered, aired on HBO. Once.

And that’s it. It’s not even available on HBO GO. You can download it only when you buy the album, either through the Google Play store or iTunes. But the visual album premiere, which foreshadowed the album release shortly thereafter, was a media event on its own. It was advertised as a “Beyoncé movie”—little did we know the showing would turn out to reveal a surprise album full of potentially incriminating lyrics.

  1. Jay Z plans on releasing a response album.

This publicity stunt could very well be a joint effort between the husband and wife duo to garner media attention to their dynasty of music production. According to Us Weekly, Jay Z is working on an album to tell his side of the story, which also happens to be his first solo album since 2013.

The answer we don’t have, however, is whom the album is about. Are Beyoncé’s songs a reference to her father’s infidelities (yes, plural): well-known affairs with multiple women that produced a couple half siblings for Bey? Or is it about her first love, who famously cheated on her? And who the heck is Becky with the good hair?

It’s pretty clear that Beyoncé rules the media and the world, and she knows it. She is capable of using the media to her advantage and simultaneously manipulating their coverage and the Beyhive’s opinions. All this talk might be exactly what she wants (and for my own sanity/hope for true love I pray that Beyoncé and Jay Z aren’t having marital issues). Queen Bey strikes again!

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Alexandra Corsi is a senior majoring in Journalism-Strategic Communication, minoring in Political Science with a certificate in Strategic Leadership and a specialization in Management. Follow her on Twitter @acorsi17.

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