At some point pretty soon, Beyoncé is going to be releasing a new album. It’ll probably end up being a surprise drop in the middle of the night, if only because these days, that’s how stars (Rihanna to Kanye to Kendrick, just so far in 2016) like to release their albums. It’ll probably appear on Tidal. It’ll probably feature a whole bunch of mega-stars and famous friends of Bey—good bets would include her husband Jay Z, obviously, Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj, maybe Kanye West, plus a few surprises. After all, she’s done this once before. Indeed, the whole trend of releasing an all-new album in the middle of the night with no advance warning launched, like Athena emerging from the skull of Zeus, directly from Beyoncé herself. The only question, ultimately, has been when?
— ZVLFY (@Zedeaux) March 9, 2016
We may have an answer! This tracklist, on letterhead from Beyoncé’s own Parkwood Entertainment and record label Columbia, purports to list the title of the album (Formation) along with a release date—Friday, April 1—for the Tidal exclusive, and April 8 for the rest of the world. It also reveals an array of guest artists including many of the usual suspects (Jay, Kanye, Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj) and a few shocking upsets (Adele, Mariah Carey). It has, predictably, been blowing up all Wednesday afternoon.
There are a couple of reasons to be suspicious, though. We’ll line ’em up in order, as you contemplate whether you’ll actually get to spend April Fool’s Day listening to Jay and Bey do “Get Away Ride From Hell” or an epic duet between Beyoncé and Adele called “Lemonade Taste.”
This actually isn’t a new image.
While the Formation tracklist started going nuts today, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it: Here’s a tweet from a popular Twitter account that shared the image March 8. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fake, but it also means that, if it’s legit, Beyoncé has had a new album ready to go for nearly a month that she’s just been sitting on. What’s she been doing with it in that time?
A potential answer would be “shooting videos for every song on the record,” since that’s what she did in 2013 before the release of her self-titled album. A more likely answer, though, would be “Uh, this tracklist is probably fake.”
It’s also not the first tracklist for Formation we’ve seen going around.
— Blogionista (@BlogionistaTv) March 2, 2016
While we can’t wait to spend our spring rocking out to “Rock Till Dawn” (feat. Kanye West), we also can’t wait to “Dance With The Devil” (feat. Kanye West and Blue Ivy). A tracklist for Formation featuring a totally different collection of songs (except for the previously released “Formation”) is up on Genius.com right now, even though there’s no reason to believe that it’s any more legit than the other one that blew up on Wednesday. They certainly both can’t be right, so it’s just a matter of which fake tracklist’s song titles and guest artist lineup sound more realistic to you.
Let’s talk about those song titles.
“Lemonade Taste” is a pretty dopey name for a song, especially one featuring Adele. So is “Nature Mother”—what would that one even sound like?—and “Tell Me Your Truth” sounds pretty hokey. “Get Away Ride From Hell” sounds like the sort of thing Bey and Jay would cut if they spent a lot of time listening to Ronnie James Dio-era Black Sabbath (which, to be fair, could be hot as hell) and the fact that both fake tracklists include titles like “F.R.E.E.” and “P.O.W.E.R.” suggest mostly that there’s an easy formula to coming up with a fake Béyonce tracklist than anything about the legitimacy of either of them.
Is Beyonce really collaborating with Adele and Mariah Carey?
Frank Ocean was all over Beyoncé, and it’s safe to assume that she’ll work with husband Jay Z or BFF Nicki Minaj. Kanye has a tendency to storm awards stages to defend Beyoncé’s honor, so it’s not suspicious to see his name on the list. But Mariah Carey? It’s been a long time since she was relevant, and the fact that just a month ago, she was talking about how she’d love to work with Beyoncé someday leads us to believe that a tracklist that started circulating on March 5 claiming the duet is in the can is probably not accurate.
As unlikely as a Mariah appearance on the eventual new Beyoncé album would be, though, a collaboration with Adele is even less likely. Beyoncé is a huge star and an even bigger media personality. But Adele is the biggest superstar to hit recorded music since Michael Jackson was doing the moonwalk. If Adele woke up tomorrow from a dream in which her next album sold Beyoncé numbers, she might never sleep again. Adele has only recorded four collaborations on somebody else’s record in her entire career, and all of them were in 2009 or earlier, back when she was just another pop star and not the best-selling artist in the world. It’s pretty unlikely Adele does a guest appearance on anybody’s album anytime soon, Beyoncé or no.
All of which is to say: It’s totally 100 percent possible that there’s going to be a new Beyoncé album on Tidal or Apple Music or Spotify soon—maybe even on Friday! And it could certainly feature songs that have a lot in common with the ones listed on the tracklist going around today. But more than likely, that particular tracklist is a Photoshop job by a Beyoncé fan with a lot of dedication and a fair bit of time on their hands, and not actually a sneak preview of what the album will look like. If this turns out to be not too far off from what we actually get, the odds are that it’s just because it’s easy to guess, rather than anybody having any inside info. Our hearts break for the “Get Away Ride From Hell” we’re unlikely to ever hear, but we’ll just get in formation and wait until the news comes from Beyoncé herself.