The term “Greatest Of All Time” (GOAT) is thrown around on the Internet quite a lot lately, so much so that the phrase is starting to lose its meaning. However, if the term was used as exclusively as it should be, it would be reserved for people like Beyoncé. Everybody who knows modern culture knows that she is one of the best currently working in the industry, and with every new project since 2010 she seems to be pioneering new trends in music. Her new concert film, titled Homecoming, not only displays her incredible body of work in the best possible way, but shows one of the best live performances ever put to screen.
The film documents last year’s highly anticipated Coachella headlining set–everything from the actual performance to the tireless work that went into creating it. Last year, along with many other fans and viewers, I watched the live stream of this fantastic performance and was blown away from start to finish. I stayed up until three in the morning to watch it and yet I never wanted Beyoncé to exit the stage for the final time. Watching this excellently crafted documentary of the performance made me relive the magic of the first viewing while also making me appreciate the work that was put into it and the symbolism that each moment carried.
From start to finish, the performance is relentlessly fun. When viewers aren’t appreciating the range of Beyoncé’s voice or being blown away by the talent of the countless backup dancers and musicians, they are jumping or two-stepping along to the infectious beats of classics like “Formation” or “Countdown.” Watching Homecoming will guarantee the viewer a fun time as long as they appreciate the music that makes up the performance. The music is great on its own, but it is also representative of a bigger picture that Beyoncé is painting.
Every single frame of this film is filled with important aspects of black culture that, up to this point, have scarcely been represented in mainstream culture. The marching bands that comprise the background music of the performance resemble those of HBCUs (Historically Black College or Universities) across America. Every song that she covers is by black or Latino artists, and the quotes that are flashed across the screen during moments of transition are those of educated black icons (Toni Morrison, W.E.B. DuBois, Alice Walker, etc.). This film is jam-packed with representation, and being the first black female to headline Coachella, Beyoncé would have it no other way.
Beyoncé’s main goal when crafting this performance was to make those who felt excluded or shunned from society feel at home. She knows how important it is that black children all across the world see a reflection of their culture depicted on screen, and she does this by paying homage to those who came before her and by creating an authentic atmosphere of pride while empowering black women across America.
Those who watched Homecoming and simply saw another Hollywood ego trip by a famous celebrity missed the message Beyoncé is trying to send. By empowering herself, she is empowering anybody who can relate to her situation and who sees themself in her struggles. As depicted in the behind-the-scenes footage, she is a mother of three who was cheated on and struck down, but still had the strength to stand back up and challenge the system which dictated that people like her fade into obscurity. By giving herself a position of power in this performance, she is giving others a more positive perspective with which to view their own situations.
Her iconic album Lemonade already does this by depicting her independence despite the fact that she was cheated on by her husband, and Homecoming further enforces that message. Beyoncé has been through mental hell, but she has come out the other side with a better perspective on society, and she looks flawless doing it.
The months and months of preparation that went into these two performances were well worth it, for Beychella is easily the best that Coachella Music and Arts Festival has ever seen, and Homecoming will likely go down in history as a milestone for live music. The only major flaw I have is that there wasn’t more. I understand that what audiences received was the most effort Beyoncé could muster at this time in her life, but damn it if I wasn’t disappointed when it ended. If I’m like this when watching it through a screen, then I can only imagine what actually being there was like.
Talent is plastered across this film, from the dancers who have control of their bodies unlike anything I’ve seen, to Beyoncé’s voice, which somehow sounds better live than it does on a recording. Those who know me know I’m a fan of live music, and for me it simply doesn’t get much better than this. Those that listened to Beyoncé’s music and hated it (how?) may not find much enjoyment in this movie, but anybody who found meaning in songs like “Freedom” or “Don’t Hurt Yourself” will adore it. Maybe I’m gushing too much and this’ll be outdated in a year’s time, but for now this performance sets the standard for modern music and, at the very least, gives fan something to sit down and watch over and over again on Netflix.
I give Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé an A+.