In the final week of April entertainment media was dominated by two headline stories: Prince's untimely death and Beyoncé's soul-baring visual masterpiece Lemonade. While the former had the world mourning the loss of an icon, the latter confirmed Queen Bey's status as a multi-talented force to be reckoned with . The hour-long visual project, which aired on HBO, addressed a range of powerful themes including her husband Jay Z's supposed infidelity, the Black Lives Matter movement and gender inequality.
Following its success, HBO now plans to submit Beyoncé's visual album for Emmy consideration later this year. Having previously received two Emmy nominations for her Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show in 2013 and for her On the Run Tour concert special with other half in 2015, Queen Bey is no stranger to the Variety Special Category of the prestigious awards.
Lemonade has divided fans, received praise for its imagery, spawned memes and parodies, and most significantly, taken pop culture to new heights and thrust important issues back on the agenda. But is it Emmy-worthy?
Film and TV writer Ellen E Jones says that while it wasn't "cinematically amazing" she could appreciate Lemonade for the work of art it is. "I heard that it's been compared to Terrence Malick's work" she told IBTimes UK. "The question isn't whether it is good enough for an Emmy, the question is why we would reduce it by nominating it in such a broad category – It's better than that. It feels like nominating it is trying too hard to get it to fit into narrow TV box when its bigger than that. It is art and doing so would reduce the beauty of it."
In 2015, NBC's Saturday Night Live's 40th Anniversary show took home the Variety Special Emmy after beating other nominees, The Kennedy Center Honors, Bill Maher: Live From D.C., Louis CK: Live At The Comedy Store, and Mel Brooks Live At The Geffen.
Jones notes that TV could certainly do with more work by and for black women and that there is some value in recognising the unapologetically frank release as mainstream art, we should leave that to television producer Shonda Rhimes and let Beyoncé "be bigger than that".
On the other side of the spectrum is Will Lavin, a music critic who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. He insists that it is a ground-breaking that an extended music video is being treated like a creative piece of art, and champions Beyoncé as a game-changer. Just like any good story, Lemonade take fans on a rollercoaster of emotions as it confronts issues like racism, modern-day expectations of women and even forgiveness after betrayal against a beautiful backdrop of vintage cars and high-end fashion.
"It was a bold move making an album that colours outside of the lines. It's something early Bey fans aren't used to hearing. There's no bubblegum poppy R&B here. She isn't afraid to speak her truth, act out her frustrations with the world and breakdown creative and marketing barriers in the process," he said.
He added: "We're in a generation where it's rare to find a genuinely new idea yet Beyoncé is constantly finding new ways to create and distribute her art – remember when she dropped her self-titled album out of the blue? She changed the way albums were released forever! So good on her. There might be other people who can make better art than Bey, but are they the ones forcing a change in the industry? Are they trendsetters? Nope.
"But being nominated for something so ferocious, artistic, and going against the grain in terms of it not conforming to the traditions usually found at the Emmys – creatively and format-wise – is a beautiful thing in itself."
While many fans would love to see the mother of one add an Emmy to her treasure trove of awards, whether she and her credited directors Kahlil Joseph, Todd Tourso, Melina Matsoukas, Todd Tourso, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jonas Akerlund and Mark Romanek will actually be shortlisted come July remains to be seen.