Is Beyoncé’s ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ a country song?

OPINION: Some country music fans are mad about Beyoncé's new song, claiming it isn't "country." Let's look at all the ways "Texas Hold 'Em" is a country song.

(L-R) Beyoncé and Jay-Z attend the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Is Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” a country song? I ask because many country fans have said it’s not while several music critics have said it is. The question is not is the song good — we don’t have to like it to establish what genre it’s in. There are good and bad songs in every genre. Of course, the question of genre seems simple but sometimes it’s not. 

“Texas Hold ‘Em” begins with banjo plucking by country artist Rhiannon Giddens. Opening with an instrument that’s commonly associated with country and thus a sound and a vibe that transports many of us to country definitely signals to the audience that this is country. When the drums come in, it’s a stomping beat that definitely suggests a line dance would be appropriate. 

In the lyrics, Beyoncé mentions a hoedown, a dive bar, Texas, rugged whiskey, surviving and a tornado. The song’s penultimate line is “furs, spurs, boots.” There’s all these little ways she’s evoking country music tropes. It sure feels like country.

In many ways, the conversation about what genre a specific song is in is tricky because, in my experience of interviewing artists, they don’t tend to think a lot about genre except if they want to try to push it beyond its normal boundaries. It’s common for multiple artists within one genre to see that genre very differently. For example, both Chance the Rapper and Future are hip-hop but their sounds are light years apart.

This is because, in reality, genre is a marketing tool. It’s a way for the music industry to help fans find music they might like. It’s often communicated through clothes and images as much as through sound. Hence we’ve been seeing Beyoncé wearing cowboy hats a lot recently, giving us country vibes sartorially. In the case of “Texas Hold ‘Em,” Beyoncé is using genre as a way of making herself sound fresh. Another album of soul music from Bey could be awesome, but an album of country excites fans even more because it’s a new direction for her. Genre is critical to her marketing. 

So, this becomes a fourth reason why “Texas Hold ‘Em” is country — because she said it is. If genre is, in large part about marketing, and she’s marketing the song as country then it becomes very hard to argue that the song is not country. Especially given that she’s ticking all the boxes like adding country instruments as played by country artists, employing country rhythms and singing lyrics that put us in the world of country. 

Let’s not forget that this is Beyoncé responding to the music of her childhood in Texas. It’s not one of those situations that we’ve all seen where a big star in the late stages of their career makes a drastic turn in sound and style as part of a frantic gesture to grab our attention once more. Country is absolutely part of Beyoncé’s cultural memory so, to many of us, this feels like an authentic gesture. 

When people say the song is not country, they fail to provide reasons. But I understand — it would be hard to argue that the song is not country. It may lack something you hear in another country song but that doesn’t mean it’s not country. The argument that it’s not a country song feels like someone trying to keep a Black person out of a gated community. It also feels like bias against Beyoncé in particular, as if they’re bristling at this Black superstar entering the country world. I wonder why that is. 

On a recent episode of the podcast “This American Life” called “The Question Trap,” people talk about questions that hide deeper questions within them. One of the questions that’s discussed is one the show says is often asked by Black women who are on first dates: What do you think about Beyoncé? They say that for many sisters that question really means: Do you like Black women?

No one is saying that not liking “Texas Hold ‘Em” means you dislike Black women. You need not love every single Beyoncé song. But the pushback to “Texas Hold ‘Em” and the resistance to even allowing it to be categorized as country feels like a rejection of her because she’s a successful Black woman who’s swerving into their cultural lane. 

It’s funny, Beyoncé has done everything right. She’s beautiful, blonde and wealthy as hell. She’s a mother who’s married to her children’s father. She’s hardworking. She’s nice. She avoids controversy. She’s elegant, graceful and humble. She embodies values most of us would love for our kids to grow up to have. Black people have embraced her with tremendous love, but for some white people — including country fans and Grammy voters — there’s a bizarre resistance to her. It reminds me that sometimes you can do everything white people say they want from Black people — you can be twice as good — and yet, they still won’t love you. 


Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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