‘Ya Ya’ Is the Best Song on Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Album

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Bast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Bast/Getty Images

This week

I Can’t Stop Listening to “Ya Ya”

It’s a little wild how all pop culture writing about Beyoncé inevitably escalates into laughable hyperbole. I have no interest in contributing to that when it comes to the release of Cowboy Carter, quite simply the greatest album that’s ever been made and which is poised to change the music, the human race, and the world as we know it.

It is, of course, impressive how cleverly Beyoncé called on her country roots and made an album that feels familiar and of the genre, yet entirely, singularly her. It’s bold to incorporate so many samples and classic songs—everything from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking” to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”—and unabashedly transform them in her voice and style, all while never disrespecting the legacy of the music and the artists.

The tracks with those samples are the highlights of Cowboy Carter: Beyoncé’s “Jolene” cover and her duet “II Most Wanted” with Miley Cyrus, who has never sounded better. But let’s be real: If you didn’t press play on “Ya Ya,” hear the opening to “These Boots…” and let out an involuntarily, completely necessary, “Oh hell yessssss,” then I’m not sure what’s happened to your soul, or if it’s even worth saving.

The song didn’t blow my hair back so much as it removed it all in one fell swoop of a sonic blast. Beyoncé’s voice is like a flame torch on the track, which moves from bouncy and flirty to explosive and ebullient. The chorus, which loosely translates to “get the hello off your ass and dance,” is irresistible, with cheeky directives like “fuck it, we shakin’,” “we swimmin’,” “we jerkin’,” and “we twerkin’”—all of which we will be doing the second we’re able to get to a bar where the song is rightfully blasting. The thought of Beyoncé performing it live is so thrilling, I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it.

Yes, this is all very fawning. But so what? It’s just fun for there to be something that was so anticipated to come out and be this good. Fuck it, we shakin’.

Femme Is Fascinating

There’s a movie that I screened this past week that I can’t stop thinking about. My opinion of it has changed roughly a dozen times, which has led me to the conclusion that any movie that provokes in that way must be really damn good.

Femme, which is now playing in New York and Los Angeles before expanding Apr. 5, is a tense, erotic, and oftentimes unnerving queer psychodrama. George MacKay plays Preston, a hustler in London who violently attacks a drag queen, Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), after he jokingly insinuates that Preston is gay. Jules, then, is shocked when, months later, he spots Preston at a gay sauna known for cruising.

Image still from the film Femme

The film then becomes a sexually charged revenge thriller, with Jules first hooking up with Preston, who doesn’t recognize them from the attack, before the two begin having sweet dates, sex all over London, and, seemingly, begin to fall for each other. Or are they? The ambiguity being the sweetness, romance, and vengeance keeps the film constantly surprising and stressful. It’s unlike any queer film I’ve seen.

Another Week, Another Kelly Clarkson Triumph

Kelly Clarkson’s talent for covering other artists’ songs on her talk show and then pulling out vocal acrobatics that leave the original is dust is well-known at this point. (Katy Perry recently posted “OK dang I can never sing that again” on a video of Clarkson’s cover of “Wide Awake.”)

All of the covers are good. Some are really good. And this one is transcendent. Clarkson’s rendition of Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” from Barbie is out of this world, having me hearing and thinking about the song in a wholly different way. Watch it here.

Screenshot of Kelly Clarkson performing on her talk show

The Best Joke on TV

I just finished rewatching the new season of Girls5eva, and are we ready to proclaim the button at the end of the theme song—“So what are you waiting five?”—to be the best sitcom joke of the last three years? It’s so good.

gif from Girls5eva

What to watch this week:

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show: As surprising and fascinating as you’d expect from the comedian. (Fri. on HBO)

A Gentleman in Moscow: Ewan McGregor in a mustache goes a long way to make a series worth watching. (Sun. on Showtime)

Vanderpump Villa: We’re not proud to be on board with this, but there’s no resisting Lisa Vanderpump. (Mon. on Hulu)

What to skip this week:

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2: No one in the Hundred Acre Wood deserved this. (Now in theaters)

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