Right, who is Beyoncé talking about in her Jolene cover?

There’s been so much controversy over this song

From the moment it was rumoured Beyoncé would be covering Dolly Parton’s Jolene on Cowboy Carter all hell broke loose. Dolly fans were in uproar, country purists said Beyoncé’s arrangement of the track was wrong, Azealia Banks essentially called Jay-Z ugly, and Stevie Wonder was low key there playing harmonica in the background. Like, what the actual hell is going on?

In response to its release, Rolling Stone called Beyoncé’s Jolene cover “cheeky and humorous … even if it doesn’t add much,” while Dolly Parton herself defended the track, writing on her Instagram: “Wow, I just heard Jolene. Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it!”

But, despite the drama, the key question here is – obviously – who is Jolene? And why is Beyoncé so mad at her? So, here are all of the wildest fan theories so far about the key country song character who’s causing so much trouble:

So, who is Beyoncé actually talking about in her Jolene cover on Cowboy Carter?

Beyonce Who is Jolene Jay Z

Beyoncé’s Jolene lyrics are a little different to Dolly Parton’s. While Dolly was hurt back in 1973, begging a girl with “auburn hair” and “beauty beyond compare” not to steal her man “just because [she] can”, Beyoncé contrastingly “warns” Jolene “don’t come for my man” and tells her “don’t take the chance because you think you can”.

Jay-Z and mystery woman theory 

Obviously, fans immediately assumed Beyoncé’s cover of Jolene was about the same “Becky with the good hair” from Beyoncé’s 2016 album Lemonade, written about Jay-Z’s infidelity. Her lyrics seemingly support this, with Beyoncé outlining to the woman “We’ve been deep in love for twenty years. I raised that man, I raised his kids.”

And rapper Azealia Banks was certainly convinced Jolene was about Jay-Z and a mystery woman, as she savagely told Beyoncé on Instagram: “Who is this imaginary adversary sis thinks still wants to hump on J in 2024? She’s gotta find new content. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY thinks he’s even remotely attractive …. LOL.”

Mumma Tina and Beyoncé’s father theory 

Other fans on TikTok think Jolene is actually sung from Beyoncé’s mum Tina’s perspective because “she’s the Creole from Louisiana” like the song states and it has previously been reported Tina left B’s father Matthew in 2009 because it came out he’d had a secret baby with Scrubs actress Alexsandra White. Messy.

Merged narratives theory 

Many Beyoncé fans have pointed out it’s possible for a song to be sung from multiple different perspectives, with numerous instances feeding into the lyrics. So, it’s possible the song could be about Becky with the good hair, B’s parent’s marriage problems and the OG Jolene who Dolly Parton sung about back in the ’70s.

Dolly has previously revealed Jolene was actually a real woman who worked in the bank in Nashville and was trying to “take care of” her husband while she was on the road. They even got in a physical fight, with Dolly explaining: “I fought that redheaded woman like a wildcat. She jerked my wig off and almost beat me to death with it. But I kept my husband.” Drama.

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Featured image credit via Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records