What a glorious and overwhelming month this has been for the Beyhive. A mere week after releasing "Spirit," Beyoncé's first single from the album she produced and curated for The Lion King, Queen Bey dropped the music video—and it is characteristically mesmerizing, with a beautiful Blue Ivy cameo. We've only got two days to watch the video on repeat before The Lion King and accompanying album The Gift are released in their entirety, which can only mean one thing: it's time to put that paid time off you've been hoarding to good use.
Beyoncé premiered the video as part of an ABC special, "The Lion King: Can You Feel The Love Tonight with Robin Roberts," and my word, it is a beauty. Amid scenes from the movie, Bey sings before the staggering Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, sits with her oldest daughter, Blue Ivy, and performs a series of emotively choreographed pieces with her superlative dancers. Every outfit is gorgeous, every shot makes your heart swell a little, and every close up on Bey and Blue's face makes you want to weep a tiny (or enormous) tear.
There are, inevitably, layers and layers and layers of meaning in the "Spirit" video that a simple viewing or 10 isn't sufficient to unpack—after all, theologian Candice Benbow created an entire syllabus based on Lemonade, while academics Dr. Kinitra D. Brooks and Dr. Kameelah L. Martin recently released a reader collecting Black feminist scholarship on the album. In short: Beyoncé's vision is vast, and I'm certainly not going to claim to summarize it in this article.
Here's one key feature of the video that social media users have pointed out, however: in some scenes, Bey, Blue Ivy, and several of the dancers sport red hair. Earlier this month, news broke that singer and actor Halle Bailey had been cast as Ariel in the live action remake of The Little Mermaid—and the racist backlash was swift, with many pointing to Ariel's famous red hair as supposed and again, obviously racist evidence that Halle couldn't play her.
In stepped Beyoncé, filling her music video with Black women and girls with red hair. Only last week, she was spotted filming the music video at Havasu Falls—so it's very possible that she selected the red hair to counter the racists targeting Halle (who is signed to Bey's label, Parkwood Entertainment, alongside her sister as Chloe x Halle).
"Spirit," it should be noted, is only the first single and visual from the 14-track album, The Gift, that Beyoncé curated and produced for The Lion King. Set for release on Friday, July 19th, the album will feature several other tracks from the Queen, as well as contributions from Wiz Kid, Burna Boy, Jay-Z, Mr. Eazi, Kendrick Lamar, Yemi Alade, Pharrell, Tierra Whack, Shatta Wale, Tekno, Tiwa Savage and Childish Gambino. Oh, and one Blue Ivy Carter, whose inevitable rise to superstardom should come as no surprise (she told us herself: remember, "Never seen a ceiling in my whole life"?)
Beyoncé told ABC News, "This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa and I wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa, and not just use some of the sounds and did my interpretation of it—I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa."
"I feel like the soundtrack—it becomes visual in your mind, it's a soundscape, it's more than just the music because each song tells the story of the film."
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