Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Is Here, and It’s Much More Than Country

As with “Renaissance,” the audio for “Cowboy Carter” was leaked online shortly before its planned release, with some fans urging others not to listen early.

Back when Beyoncé released her self-titled “visual album” without warning in 2013, establishing the “surprise drop” as an industry trope, it was partly meant to protect the album from leaks, which had become a threat to first-week sales numbers For these last two albums, Beyoncé has embraced a more conventional marketing plan, announcing her album weeks ahead of time and preparing deluxe physical editions. (There are many for “Cowboy Carter,” including LPs in, yes, red, white and blue vinyl.)

In the end, the leaks meant little to “Renaissance,” which went straight to No. 1. And, regardless of the new album’s fate at country radio — where “Texas Hold ’Em” has so far made it only as high as No. 33 — the commercial potential for “Cowboy Carter” seems vast, given Beyoncé’s recent success.

Last year, she won her 32nd Grammy Award, more than any artist in history. Her Renaissance tour sold $580 million in tickets, second only to Taylor Swift. A related concert film, “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” offered a rare look behind the scenes of her creative process and was a hit in cinemas.

Last week, as the release of “Cowboy Carter” neared, Beyoncé wrote on Instagram that the album was “over five years in the making,” and that “it was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed … and it was very clear that I wasn’t.” Fans zeroed in on her appearance at the Country Music Association Awards in 2016, where she performed her song “Daddy Lessons” with the Chicks, and drew backlash online.

“The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me,” Beyoncé said. The new album, she added, “is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

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