Beyoncé - "Formation" (Singles Going Steady)

Beyoncé's "Formation" is Black Pride incarnate, and it’s exactly what we needed to hear right now.

Sam Taylor: Let’s be clear, Beyoncé's greatest asset has always been her voice. On "Formation", she might not be belting out another insta-classic like "Crazy in Love", but she continues down an increasingly dark and enthralling path, stripping back her sound and redefining what makes ‘Beyoncé’ so distinctively… well, Beyoncé. Utilising the unique potential of the surprise release -- and the Super Bowl -- to whip the Internet into a frenzy, she’s using her stature in the industry (and the black community) to expose an army of fans to something truly new. On both "Formation" and in its accompanying video, Beyoncé retains the confident swagger of her eponymous 2014 album, harnessing this progression to produce a track that not only serves as a potent statement that #blacklivesmatter in 2016, but that good music does too… and it still has the potential to really get people talking. [8/10]

Jedd Beaudoin: Everything Beyoncé should be. Smart, funny, etc. etc. Who needs Coldplay when you've got this? [9/10]

Magdalen Jenne: Masterfully produced. Beyonce proves over and over again that her artistic ambitions are both diverse and precise, and what's more, that what she has to say is important. The video is stunning, powerful, no-holds-barred, and assures the listener that Beyonce isn't finished breaking new ground. [7/10]

Chad Miller: I hope you didn’t think Beyoncé making political statements in her music was a one time deal. From “What happened at the New Wil’ins” to the end of the music video where she drowns on a cop car, Beyoncé unleashes line after line of fearless pro-black commentary. Proclaiming she likes her “Jackson 5 nostrils” and “Baby head with baby head and afro”, she offers no apologies for her blackness. Additionally, anyone who knows Beyoncé knows she’s the queen of catchphrases, notably “I might be a black Bill Gates in the making”. Black Culture has never sounded so tangible, and Beyoncé’s here to make sure it isn’t about to get whitewashed. It’s Black Pride incarnate, and it’s exactly what we needed to hear right now. [10/10]

Ryan Dieringer: This song is so fun to listen to. And especially if you watch the video and pay attention to the politics, it's a total experience. I extra love that this low key shows up everything Kanye and Jay-Z were going for sonically on Watch the Throne. [8/10]

Ari Rosenschein: Ok, let’s get this straight right off the top. “Formation” is the best tune from B in ages. “They never take the country out me”, she proclaims over the sweaty beat, and she means it. Lines like “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bamma /I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” are provocative, timely and uncharacteristically political. Then the queen declares “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making” and this Seattle resident beams. Being even the peripheral recipient of Beyonce’s attentions is as thrilling as ever. [7/10]

Adolf Alzuphar: Beyoncé's song "Formation" is a new song about an old but still persistent issue being performed in a very old society. It is a society of traditions and two such traditions are investing one's self in a song, or turning off the radio because it's too aching to listen through. It chooses to chant down the pain that a black person or any person may feel while oppressed and does it well. The word "slay" does not roll of the tongue well when repeating the songs well, but it sounds great when she sings it. It's hard to believe that she would herself participate in any "Formation" that would include the not chic anger of the American proletariat and indebted middle class. The cities will love this song, but it's the suburbs that will love it the most: where there is much less to do and debates linger the longest on the same topic. It is also a new song being performed in a society of changing individuals. Regardless of what the many rebel yells say about this song, what will be fascinating to see will be how this song will end up -- classic or temporary wonder. [8/10]

Morgan Y. Evans: Definitely a full on banger, but you knew that. Could get down hard to this at any party. From aesthetic to the twangy, bouncy spare moments to the New Orleans heat vibes to Beyoncé in full pride mode from the "Black Bill Gates in the making" to the "take what's mine" lines, this tune is one of the most bold and provocative songs she has done with some of her more dominant (and rightfully so) lyrics. More than just a full demand for respect, she let's you know the formation is already fully formed and haters already lost any perceived battle. Best revenge is indeed living well (and walking tall with a squad of formation dancers backing you up, naturally). [7/10]

SCORE: 8.00





Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.


'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.


Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.


Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.


Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.


Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.


12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.