Mrs. Carter rules pop culture right now, musically, socially and politically, while Petty is a deeply respected classic rock dinosaur. Is it even a fair fight?
Nobody else has the power to bend popular culture to her whim the way Beyoncé does. Adele and Taylor Swift might sell more albums, but they don’t inspire hundreds of political and cultural think pieces. They don’t spark protests on both sides of hot button issues.
The best album I’ve heard this year — and a safe bet to hold that crown through year’s end — is Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Unveiled as an HBO movie before being released as a proper album, Lemonade details the effects of infidelity on a marriage, from anger and denial through healing and forgiveness.
While some maintain that artists shouldn’t be equated with their work, I think it’s pretty clear that this song cycle is about Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The fact that Jay-Z basically holed up in a bunker for the first month or so after Lemonade‘s release feels like confirmation.