Just like she closed out 2013 with an overnight surprise drop of her self-titled visual album, Beyoncé also kicked off this year with an unannounced shocker: the release of “Formation.”
Wearing a Gucci print dress on top of a sinking police car in New Orleans, Beyoncé delivered one of the year’s most politically charged and artistically ambitious music videos, setting the bar impossibly high for the rest of her musical peers.
Instead of enjoying brunch or a movie on that Saturday afternoon, we were instead all glued to our screens, watching and re-watching “Formation” to absorb its fashion, its imagery, its message.
We immediately memorized the song’s epic lyrics—“sipping Cuervo with no chaser”; “best revenge is your paper”—so by the time Bey showed up the very next day at the Super Bowl halftime show, we were already singing along to her performance. That moment was a prime example of the power and reach of Beyoncé—and we haven’t even started talking about Lemonade.
While this year will certainly go down as a dark one, it’s worth remembering 2016 was also the year in which we witnessed a crowning achievement by one of our greatest working artists.
Even though she had long stopped granting interviews, this was the year Beyoncé finally started getting real. She cemented her role as a feminist icon, spoke up on the Black Lives Matter movement, and even opened up (or maybe not) on her closely guarded personal life and marriage.
This was the year the legend of Beyoncé became so oversize, even a sneeze from her (a small sign that she was human after all) managed to make headlines. Could the same be said of any other person in the world?