Cowboy Carter visuals Beyonce

All the long and winding lore behind Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter visuals

The album cover alone deserves a dissertation

It goes without saying that Beyoncé has had us all in an even tighter chokehold than usual since she released her country-inspired album Cowboy Carter. But, although we’ve had 27 tracks, five different album covers and endless lyric conspiracies, we obviously all want more. Specifically, Cowboy Carter’s visuals. Because, all that’s been dropped so far is lyric vids.

Cowboy Carter was fully intended to be a visual album. Beyoncé released a teaser trailer and dropped a load of hints that the artist and model Nadia Lee Cohen would direct. But, we’ve been here before: led down a similar garden path with Renaissance only to be told “you are the visual, baby,” during her  world tour. Excuse us while we scream in frustration.

Anyway, while we wait (potentially forever) for the Cowboy Carter visuals to drop, let’s feast on the imagery Beyoncé has actually already given us to ease the pain and unpack her Cowboy Carter Western references one by one:

The OG album cover

Cowboy Carter visuals

Credit: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

The main Cowboy Carter album caused a huge online stir and just about every art historian and their dad has had a pop at analysing it. Co-host of the Daily Blast podcast Tory Shulman suggested Chardonneigh (the white horse) could represent purity and the awkward way Beyoncé is sat (neither backwards or forwards) reflects America’s in between status of progress and regression. She also added the red stripes of the flag are featured because they represent valour  but the blue base is absent because it represents justice and America is “not there yet”.

Some saw Beyoncé’s inclusion of the American flag as reclaiming the US symbolism, while others claimed this was impossible: “I hate to hurt so many of y’alls feelings but Black people can’t reclaim the American flag, because you can’t reclaim something that wasn’t made for you,” one user wrote on X/Twitter, while Azealia Banks added: “white woman cosplay”.

The vinyl cover

Cowboy Carter visuals

Credit: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

The Cowboy Carter vinyl cover also appears to attempt to reclaim US iconography as Beyoncé is standing in the same position as the Statue of Liberty with a Miss America sash and red, white and blue beads in her hair.

In placing her body in the poses and outfits associated with long-standing USA stereotypes, it seems like she’s attempting to disrupt our understanding of what it means to be American and the cliché’s we associate with it and acknowledge her music and the alluded to cultural and societal progress as it’s happening now.


Cowboy Carter visuals

Credit: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

With the TEXAS HOLD ‘EM cover, Beyoncé plays with the Cowboy archetype. She’s got a big rimmed black hat on—with metal lingerie. Basically, we’re seeing a transition from the Renaissance disco vibes to the Cowboy Carter era. Plus, she’s toying with the classic macho cowboy caricature we’re used to seeing in pop culture. As Beyoncé told us, this isn’t a country album but a Beyoncé album. And she’s making it clear she’s keeping the power and history of what it means to be a cowboy while making it totally her own.

16 CARRIAGES cover

Cowboy Carter visuals

Credit: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

Much like the lyrics to 16 CARRIAGES, the artwork for the single is a moodier black and white than that of TEXAS HOLD ‘EM. Fans have theorised Beyoncé’s persona in the black and white material from Cowboy Carter is more of a “drifter” persona than her cowboy one. Drifters tend to move from town to town while on a quest with a mysterious past following them. And that certainly checks out with the song’s lyrics.

The alternative album covers

Cowboy Carter visuals

Credit: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

Cowboy and Drifter aren’t the only characters fans have speculated Beyoncé is introducing on her Cowboy Carter album. In a hefty Reddit thread they’ve speculated there’s actually four different characters, who we see on Beyoncé’s alternative album covers.

If we’re to believe the thread, the first blonde character (above) is The Outlaw, the second with snake shades on is the Bounty Hunter, the third is the Drifter and the fourth is the Cowboy. That’s quite some cast for her to eventually release the visual album with. We beg.

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Featured image credit via Instagram (@Beyonce)