“Texas Hold ‘Em”: A reaction to Beyoncé’s official country debut

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Country culture is very prevalent at UD as students such as Porter Schmidt can be spotted sporting their best boots. (Porter’s boots are not depicted here, unfortunately.) Photo by Henry Gramling.

Due to my growing up in Oklahoma, I have a love-hate relationship with country music. Over the years, I have found it increasingly difficult to enjoy the country hits that have played on the radio or popped onto various playlists. I am not alone in this opinion; many of my peers both in Texas and Oklahoma have expressed a disinterest in country music – except when going to Red River or Billy Bob’s.

The biggest complaint I have heard is that all country songs, depending on the sex of the artist, sound the same. The men croon about glass beer bottles clanging around the bed of their pickup as they pursue their ideal country girl, and the women plot to kill their unfaithful husbands.

Clearly, this is an overgeneralization of the genre, but the sentiment comes from a very real concern: modern country music needs a refresh. Thankfully, Beyoncé stepped in to save us all.

When Beyoncé’s new country song, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” was released, I was skeptical at first. After the immense success of Beyoncé’s career in R&B and pop music, I had trouble picturing her as an artist who could capture the essence of country music.

With the iconic album “Renaissance” fresh in mind, I was almost expecting a dance/techno base with a banjo for some added twang.

Instead, Beyoncé delivered a laid-back and jovial country single that hit the nail right on the head. The song opens with the melodious plucking and picking of an acoustic guitar that is a staple in well-done country music. As the instrumental introduction of the song closes, the simple kick drum complements the guitar and the heavenly vocals like someone stomping their foot to keep time.

Now, I don’t need to spend too much time talking about Beyoncé’s vocal talent, because we all know how well she can sing. The song’s subject matter, though, is what makes “Texas Hold ‘Em” something really special.

In the opening chorus, Beyoncé tells us to lay our cards down and stick around for what can only be assumed to be a night of enjoyment. The remainder of the chorus captures the universal experience of craving a slow dance with that special someone.

The following verse dives into different images associated with country and Western lifestyles. Beyoncé describes hitting the basement to take shelter from a tornado, sipping whiskey out of a red solo cup (in what I consider a nod to the late Toby Keith), heading out to dive bars and two-stepping.

The second verse continues this trend of imagery, this time with a focus on the ever-changing weather of the south. Beyoncé mentions a heatwave and a cold spell that makes everyone “too cold to panic.” Those who hail from the Midwest will also relate to this section of the song, but the Houston native is directly referencing the boiling summers of Texas and the drastic winter weather of years past. Again, this verse ends with the image of heading out to bars and dancing the night away.

In my opinion, the final part of this song is the most interesting. This interlude adds some subtle piano and fiddle to strengthen the instruments while Beyoncé vocalizes. During this interlude, the song changes tone from upbeat to a more emotionally charged conversation.

The percussion fades out almost entirely as each instrument softens to allow Beyoncé’s vocals to take center stage. While her fantastic vocals guided listeners through the whole song, this final moment demonstrates Beyoncé’s ability to create harmonies that mesh perfectly with the atmosphere of the song.

“Texas Hold ‘Em” has an authentic country-western style that pairs perfectly with Beyoncé’s vocal style, and it has received countless praise from music critics outside of the UD Bubble. One of the biggest reasons that “Texas Hold ‘Em” has received so much celebration is due to Beyoncé’s recognition of her own country roots.

Houston, Texas is notorious for the rodeo and the cowboy tradition. This song also earned a number one spot on Billboard Music’s Hot Country Songs chart, which makes Beyoncé the first black woman in history to top the country charts.

The rousing success of “Texas Hold ‘Em” has continued to spark conversations about the roots of black country music, black artists in the country music world and the rich history of black American cowboys.

While this song is only a featured single, Beyoncé’s upcoming studio album “Act II” is expected to be exclusively country, western and folk music. The track list is currently unavailable to the public, but I suspect that “Act II” will be full of refreshing country songs that give the same good feeling as “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. This song is absolute ear rape. It is awful and I don’t know who is praising it, but they need to be fired! I hate that it’s repeated throughout the day just because it’s Beyoncé…. She is too good for this garbage. I love Beyoncé and I hate her country song!
    Absolutely despise it!

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