Beyonce has sparked a massive social media divide with her performance at the CMAs 2016. The Formation singer performed her Lemonade album track Daddy Lessons alongside the Dixie Chicks at the Nashville awards ceremony on 2 November but Twitter has erupted into a heated debate about whether the pop star "belonged" at the country music show.
Hours before Beyonce, 35, hit the stage at the Bridgestone Arena, rumours of her surprise performance began circulating prompting many to threaten a boycott of the awards. Justifying their critique, some cited Beyonce's controversial single Formation, which was accused of inciting police hatred by referencing the Black Lives Matter movement, gun violence and police brutality.
One commented on Twitter: "#Boycott @CMA since it wants to have a cop hater like @Beyonce on our country music show. She's not ruining our music," while another weighed in: "Well, I won't be watching now. What a bummer. I refuse to support her and her views on the police." Another tweeted: "Won't be watching! ... Shame on the CMA's for having this cop hater perform."
Outspoken TV presenter Tomi Lahren, who heavily condemned Beyonce's performance of Formation at the Super Bowl, said she was not against the singer attending the CMAs. However, she did state: "Totally cool Beyoncé is performing at the CMAs. Just know most country fans #BacktheBadge #BacktheBlue."
Other commentators on social media brought race into the argument in an attempt to create a divide between African-Americans and the country music genre.
Although many country stars are known for crossing over into other genres like pop – most notably Taylor Swift – some critics did not appreciate Beyonce's experimentation with a country sound on Daddy Lessons. One told the Single Ladies singer to "go back to [her] own genre" while another said they were "fed up" with "this crossover crap". Many also accused the r'n'b star of "cultural appropriation".
Among the naysayers appeared to be country star Kenny Chesney, who was caught on camera looked far from pleased with the pop-country crossover.
Not everyone was angry with Beyonce's inclusion. The Grammy-winner, who hails from Houston, Texas, did receive a positive response from various corners of the entertainment industry. Dallas Buyers Club actor Matthew McConaughey was seen dancing to Daddy Lessons in the audience with his wife Camila Alves.
CMAs 2016 co-host Brad Paisley fiercely defended the singer, telling his Twitter followers ahead of the awards show: "Frequently, country crosses over. But every now & then a major pop superstar wants to be a part of this too. Welcome, Beyonce." Walk The Line actress Reese Witherspoon also chimed in: "Now officially less mad I missed #Beyonce when she came to LA," adding a series of bee emojis. The Twitter account for the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville's iconic country music venue, posted a string of heart emojis with the caption: "IS THIS REAL LIFE?!"
Daddy Lessons appears on Beyonce's sixth studio album Lemonade, which was released in April 2016 along with the visual album and reached number one in the UK and US Billboard 200 chart.