Why Beyonce’s Stinging Rendition of Dolly Parton’s Classic reeks of Lemonade and Every Protective Wife’s Anthem


Maybe Beyonce is the human antibiotic for the side-chick pandemic. Or how else do we describe her heart-racing version of “Jolene” – a classic country song originally recorded by the Queen of country music, Dolly Parton?


Since music fans caught a whiff of her country album, “Cowboy Carter,” it’s been a season of mixed reactions. Many thought Beyonce’s foray into country widens the demography that’s usually associated with the white-dominated music genre. Others have argued that Beyonce is only behaving like an ostrich- stretching her neck beyond her regular music boundaries. Excuse me. Beyonce has never been bound by such boundaries in music. If there’s any artist of her generation who has demonstrated a compulsive tendency to experiment with music genres, perhaps we’d be counting just a few. Lady Gaga came after her and so did Rihanna.


Let’s get back to the country table and chew upon this “Jolene” that got a multigenerational response upon its release. In the original version of the song, Dolly Parton is a protagonist in the story of a woman fighting to have her man by begging the side chick. It’s a rare position for a woman to acknowledge the other woman as being more beautiful and may have a choice of men to pick from. But Parton held this position and for generations, that magic in the lyrics made the song timeless and an intricate puzzle of sorts.


Beyonce has a clearly different pattern of approach to the other woman. She sees her as an intruder, an opportunist who should be handled with aggression. Her version is brazen and deeply personal- evoking the memories of “Becky with the good hair” in the grammy-nominated visual album, Lemonade and the infamous elevator fight. In a weird way, it ignites the memory of the 2009 movie “Obsessed” where Beyonce played the role of Sharon alongside the British actor, Idris Elba. We all know what happened to Lisa, the unrelenting temporary worker who wormed her way into Derek’s personal life with a mission to break his home. She ended up breaking in- and breaking her head in the end.


Queen Bee has developed a persona that is terrifying to the other woman. Despite maintaining a very strict personal life, Beyonce’s stance to marital infidelity is very outspoken in her music and visuals. Recall how she wielded the big stick in “Hold Up” even while pregnant with her twins.


In this 2024 version of Jolene, Beyonce didn’t beg but warned Jolene to stay away from her man, turning around the lyrics completely to give it a different perspective, adding that “it takes more than beauty and seductive stares to come between her and a “happy man.”


Been deep in love for 20 years
I raised that man
I raised his kids
I know my man
Better than he knows himself

The 42-year old singer who holds the record of most Grammy wins in history is not playing with this Jolene remake. Gut-deep emotion ripped through every line with goosebumps stemming from the place of empathy for a listener. This is no dance song; it’s an anthem.


Infidelity is a leading cause of crime of passion, divorce and increase in vulnerable children in many parts of the world. It’s a sour-sweet experience that has destroyed the vestige of mutual trust in marital unions, making prenuptial arrangements the new but awkward norm.


Beyonce has again cut through the racial slurs to restate country music as black music. Country music was created with music instruments used and made by the black community. Southern Black people invented the banjo and the fiddle while Deford Bailey, an African-American emerged as the star of this music genre.

Hence, the backlash that black artists- including Beyonce- receive when they venture into country music or any white-dominated field is neo-racism at its best.

Cowboy Carter. An album review looms.



-Written by Yinka Olatunbosun, an arts and culture journalist.

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