On Saturday night, the reigning queen of pop graced her kingdom with an exclusive performance on HBO. Though she'd revealed little about this special presentation in advance, Beyoncé's Lemonade turned out to be a full visual album, as many expected.
What we didn't expect—although maybe we should have, because Beyoncé—was that it would be stunningly beautiful and expertly directed. Lemonade reminds us that every truth has two sides. (The album, by the way, is currently available for streaming on Tidal.)
Here are nine moments we can't shake:
We've seen Beyoncé raw and we've seen her powerful before. Hell, her last visual album, Beyoncé, wasn't exactly all sweet and demure. But from the very beginning of Lemonade, there is a palpable energy. And that energy is anger.
And the first weapon Beyoncé chooses is a wooden baseball bat.
On "Anger," the second chapter of Lemonade, it becomes obvious that this is not a pleasant story of a happy marriage. "You ain't married to an average bitch, boy," Beyoncé sings. (On the album, this song is titled "Hold Up.") Every line seems to hint that this is about a breakup.
But also, the hair. Could anything embody rage more than this headbanging?
How. Does. She. Do. It.
There are plenty of recognizable faces scattered throughout the video. Here are a few we caught on our first pass.
Only Beyoncé could recruit the literal best tennis player in the world, Serena Williams, as her backup dancer.
And teen dream Amandla Stenberg looks incredible next to this old-ass camera.
Here's the truly unstoppable Quvenzhané Wallis, who is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
And here, peekin' out from behind a doorframe is Winnie Harlow, a former contestant on America's Next Top Model.
Among the beautiful women assembled here are Zendaya and sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey.
Midway through the visual album, Beyoncé reaches a chapter titled "Resurrection." In it, we come face-to-face with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown: two young black men who died at the hands of police violence.
A frequent criticism of any pop star is that they're just the vehicle by which someone else's art is received. But not only did Beyoncé executive produce this video, and make these songs some of her most personal yet, she included a little clip of herself playing the piano—showing she's an artist in every sense of the word.
After a full 40 minutes convincing us that Lemonade was a kind of ultimatum that ended with (best case) Bey delivering a stack of divorce papers to Jay and moving the hell on, here was her husband HUGGING HER. I have truly never felt more emotionally confused than watching these two cuddle after Beyoncé spent six songs making me think she literally murdered him.
Beyoncé's relationship with her father is notoriously messy. But this little scene of him playing with Blue Ivy is fucking adorable.
And here's GRANDMA. There were also images of Beyoncé pregnant with Blue, Beyoncé and Jay Z getting their matching tattoos, and the Carter-Knowles wedding.
It's hard, after only one listen, to say much about the music. There's country, and gospel, and a hell of a lot of process in these songs. But visually, Lemonade is straight-up gorgeous. It's artfully staged, impeccably choreographed, and just beautiful. The colors, the tone, the breaths you feel yourself take while you watch remind you what it is to be a human. To be alive.
Correction: A previous version of this post implied that Travyon Martin died last year. He was killed in 2012.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.