Beyonce’s Lemonade Album was released as a visual album. The visuals of each music video are incredible, and each video has a visual introduction with a voice-over leading into the song. My favorite music video is “Hold Up” which is about Beyonce’s suspicion that her husband had an affair. It has so many visual elements and I cannot cover them all, so I will focus on five major elements: color scheme, lighting, slow motion with speed up camera movement, focused and timed shots for smashing various things, and out of focus and grainy shots.
The color scheme in the beginning contrasts greatly from the color scheme in the main music video. The introduction to “Hold Up” takes place underwater, so the color scheme blue tones and hues to it. There are even dark tones and shadows in the scene to create the effect that she is deep underwater.
The rest of the the music video has a dulled color scheme to help her bright mustard dress stand out. Also, at the beginning of the music video, the first car they show matches her dress.
Lighting is really only prominent in the introduction because the rest of the video utilizes natural light. In the introduction sequence there is a lighting shining down on Beyonce, almost like a spotlight. When it is not on her, there is a pocket of light on the bed in the bedroom. It creates the underwater darkness effect while also lighting the subject, and creating focus. It also puts emphasis on the intimacy of the bed to draw attention to the idea that Beyonce’s husband is cheating.
The natural lighting does create some halos around her hair and head in some shots symbolizing her innocence in the whole affair.
The post-production editing of the video also creates interesting slo-mo and sped-up motion. The video starts very quickly initially, and then switches to slo-mo. Most of the video takes place in slow motion with a few bursts of quick, sped-up motion. The sped-up motion happened in the introduction during what I would like to call the “possessed” scenes where there are extremely quick flashes of Beyonce floating in the air, or screaming at the camera. Once Beyonce is in the bedroom underwater, every once in awhile the shots will speed up and switch quickly from shot to shot to shot of Beyonce in different positions and faces. It creates an almost possessed, horror movie feel to it, as she kind of appears to be receiving an exorcism (0:53-0:57) and (1:03-1:07) It happens three times total in this section, and two of the times she resembles either demon in the air doing flips, or a large butterfly trying to escape a cocoon, and that is really the best way I can describe it.
Another cool effect that occurs only in the introduction is the reversal of video. In post-production editing, the team decides some of the introduction would play certain scenes backward. For example, her blowing out bubbles is played backward so it looks like she is sucking bubbles in. Many of these scene are played backward to make it look like she is raising up, or sitting up when she is really bowing or bending down. This effect creates a sort of spooky and ominous feel, and it also makes the scene appear like a dream sequence which I believe is its intention.
The rest of the music video still uses the slow motion video with bursts of sped up motion, but not as radical as in the introduction. Mostly, the sped up action is just used to draw focus on certain motion in the shots, specifically anything that has to do with her smashing the cars, like the bats.
The smashing of the cars and cameras are also timed with the music creating a very cohesive and visually appealing piece. The camera follows Beyonce walking down the car looking for cars to smash through tracking, panning, trucking, and even some obscure vantage points, like this window.
However, the camera stops and the motion speeds up when she goes to smash either a car or a camera.
The camera also records the smashing cars and cameras from the point of the car or the camera at points to make it visually appealing and more dramatic.
The visuals even capitalize on the aesthetic of a surveillance camera that she smashes.
Or even close-ups of the glass breaking
The most dramatic of these timings is the smashing of the store window that triggers the fire. This is one of my favorite visuals in the piece.
The last visual element that I wanted to comment on were the the out of focus and grainy shots. This was an interesting visual choice, and I do not know the actual reasoning behind it. It might be to make the video look older than it is, or just to create visual variation.
Overall, I loved this piece, and I still love Beyonce. I thought the timing of the shots and the mix between speeding up and slowing down created a very cohesive and visually appealing piece that I was interested in the entire time. However, the weird “possessed shots” in introduction were a little freaky, and maybe unnecessary; I thought it detracted from the message of “he cheated on me.” Nevertheless, the introduction and music video were both incredible, and I hope Beyonce does more visual albums in the future.