“Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they?” says Linda Martell, a country music pioneer, in the intro to Beyoncé’s “Spaghettii.” “In theory, they have a simple definition that’s easy to understand, but in practice, well, some may feel confined.” Those two sentences perfectly sum up how Beyoncé has subverted expectations in recent years by spreading her wings beyond pop, hip-hop, and R&B to infuse rock, house, and now country music into her own unique style that ultimately really is just “Beyoncé.”

On her latest album, Cowboy Carter — home to “Spaghettii” and tracks that feature Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson — she tips her hat to country, folk, and Americana. The record, which follows the house- and disco-influenced Renaissance, is the second act in a reported trilogy of albums that will find the artist immersing herself in genres people might not generally think of first when they think of Beyoncé.

Since she hasn’t offered any official hints as to what Act III could be, the Rolling Stone staff decided to guess. This Act III Wish List contains both sincere and silly entries. OK, mostly they’re silly and lighthearted. And since speculating about what Beyoncé could do next is sort of an act of fiction unto itself, several writers imagined their own Beyoncé interviews — quotes that never happened to make the unreal real. We’ll have to wait a couple of years to find out what Act III holds, but until then, here are a few of the many paths we predict Beyoncé could take.

NOTE: Again, most of the quotes and anecdotes in this story are 100 percent fictional, if you can’t already tell. Please use your judgment before sharing screenshots. Be safe out there!

It’s Gonna Be Twee

Country music is really real. But you know what’s really, really real? Lo-fi sad-sack indie rock. It’s time for Cuddle-Core Carter, the next frontier in the Bey-odyssey. In an interview with indie zine Chickfactor promoting the album, Beyoncé got at the inspiration behind her latest work: “I heard Phoebe Bridgers on that SZA song, and pretty soon I was way down a rabbit hole….Lois, Tiger Trap, Talulah Gosh, all that stuff. Next thing you know I’m up in Olympia, Washington, vibing in the studio with Calvin Johnson.” Recorded in two hours and featuring guests such as Mitski, Lomelda, Jay Som, and Faye Webster, Cuddle-Core Carter is comprised entirely of covers, such as the Softies’ “Sleep Away Your Troubles,” Adult Mom’s “I Make Boys Cry,” Courtney Barnett’s “Depreston,” Caroline Polachek’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” (the Squirrel Flower version), and Taylor Swift’s “August” — another nod to this genre from a fellow pop superstar. “Yeah, the whole thing is covers. I wanted to shine a light on these great artists,” Beyoncé said. “And, besides, you can’t really improve on this stuff, not like country, which you can pretty much totally reinvent without even trying.”  —J.D. 

Tales From Yoncégraphic Oceans

As a little girl, Beyoncé used to wake up in the middle of the night, tiptoe into the basement, and listen to her father’s prog rock records. And although she loved Rush, Marillion, Jethro Tull, ELP, Van der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson, she had a particular appreciation for early Yes and Genesis. “Bill Bruford is the greatest drummer in the history of the world,” Beyoncé says, “maybe even the universe! I’ve scoured the world for bootlegs of the 1976 Trick of the Tail tour since he’s on drums. When he plays alongside Phil Collins on a medley of Lamb Lies Down on Broadway songs, it’s just prog perfection. The April 13, 1976 show at Pittsburgh’s Sylvia Mosque is my favorite.”

After years of keeping this secret to herself, Bey has assembled a Yes/Genesis supergroup to join her on her latest record, Tales From Yoncégraphic Oceans. Backed by guitarists Steve Hackett and Steve Howe, keyboardist Tony Banks, organist Tony Kaye, drummer Nick D’Virgilio, and bassist Billy Sherwood, the album mixes Genesis covers (“Twilight Alehouse,” “Going Out to Get You,” “The Light”) with Yes songs (“Dance of the Dawn,” “Sound Chaser,” “Dancing Through the Light”). “My only regret is I couldn’t talk Bill Bruford out of retirement for this,” she says. “Lord knows that I tried. But I always loved Nick D’Virgilio’s work with Spock’s Beard. When I remember that he played on the 1997 Genesis album Calling All Stations, it just felt like kismet.”

“I was very torn about covering ’The Light,” she adds. “As every true Genesis fan knows, the only recording is a poor quality audience bootleg from a show in 1971 at the La Ferme V club in Belgium. But there’s something magical about that song, and the fact they reworked it years later as ‘Lillywhite Lilith’ on The Lamb. I hope one day the same technology that allowed the Beatles to finish ‘Now and Then’ can allow the La Ferme V tape to be restored so we can all hear the glory that is ‘The Light’ in high quality. In the meantime, I hope my cover will suffice.”

Plans for the tour are still coming together, but she hopes to recreate the exact staging from Rick Wakeman’s 1975 King Arthur on Ice. “I’m going to dress up like Queen Guinevere in authentic medieval garb,” Beyoncé says. “I’ll be joined by over 100 other ice skaters. During one of the many mellotron solos, I’m going to attempt a quadruple axle. When we play ‘Supper’s Ready,’ I’m going to fly over the audience like Peter Gabriel did at the Academy of Music in 1974. You are not ready for this shit.”  A.G.

Classically Carter

Destiny’s Child were hightailing it out of Munich after a triumphant 2002 gig when Beyoncé started fiddling with the radio in the back of the trio’s Mercedes-Benz van. The women were still catching their breath after powering through “Jumpin’ Jumpin’,” “Survivor,” and “Happy Face,” but when Bey settled on a classical radio station at the bottom of the dial, the whole mood shifted. As Beyoncé recalled in a rare 2017 interview about her love of classical music with Gramophone magazine, Kelly Rowland asked to change the station to keep the mood upbeat, but Beyoncé waved Rowland’s question away. The way composer Henryk Górecki’s dreamlike orchestral strings swelled around the vehicle moved her so deeply, she was on the verge of tears — and she loved the feeling.

Beyoncé recalled how when Dawn Upshaw’s soprano emerged from the mist of sound, she broke down utterly and completely. So did the other members of the group. Górecki’s “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” — the great Polish composer’s lachrymose masterwork about the overwhelming responsibility of motherhood — was the most devastatingly gorgeous music they’d ever heard. So they huddled together, holding hands, sniffling. “Kelly kept handing me and Michelle Kleenexes,” Beyoncé recalled in the interview. “I mean, let me tell you, Michelle was wrecked.”

After Destiny’s Child broke up, Beyoncé secretly held onto the Górecki feeling, hoping one day to rend her heart openly, singing the saddest music ever to touch her soul (without breaking it). She set the table for her new album, Classically Carter feat. Blue Ivy, with the operatic singing on Cowboy Carter’s “Daughter.” According to a source, who wishes to remain anonymous so as not to violate the terms of an NDA, some people in her camp are unsure if the world is ready to weep together en masse when she releases her own rendition of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 in 2026. But Beyoncé, ready to become a true diva in the operatic sense, keeps insisting that crying together is the only way to achieve world peace.  K.G.

Instrumentally Yours, Beyoncé 

As Beyoncé tells it, it was the soothing sound of Andre 3000’s flutes on New Blue Sun that did it. “That music took me to another place,” she says, “and I wanted to go to that place. But a place of my own. Maybe someplace in Europe. With a castle.” But which instrument, and which country? Flashing back to her collaboration with Jack White on Lemonade — and how she came across the White Stripes’ “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” during her extensive research into his life — she was reminded of the siren song of the bagpipes. 

The result is Kilt Carter, a triumphant record that connects the mournful tones of the Scottish Highlands with Beyoncé’s love for the exotic musical traditions of nations around the world and their streaming services. Hiring renowned Scottish master Angus McLoughlin, the international superstar spent weeks working on her breathing and finger techniques for the instrument. “I can’t tell you how many times I played along to ‘Mull of Kintyre,’” Beyoncé says with a laugh, referring to the Wings standard. “That’s my jam.”

In a nod to her cover of “Blackbird” on Cowboy Carter, Kilt Carter features a remake of that song, with Paul McCartney himself making a surprise harmony cameo. Hiring ensembles like the renowned Berwickshire Baggers, Beyoncé also offers up an instrumental bagpipes version of the traditional “Danny Boy,” renamed “Danny Boiii” in keeping with her fondness for multiple “i’”s. But the track that will even wake up the Loch Ness Monster is her cover of AC/DC’s bagpipe-enhanced “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll).” Now called “Bey at the Top,” it will make everyone rethink the roots of heavy metal and woodwind instruments like never before.  —D.B.

Now That’s What Beyoncé Calls Music!

With the release of Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé has (once again) proved that she transcends the fences of any music genre. So, to put the true finisher on her three-act project, she will lean into the defining CD franchise of the 2000s and release her own Now That’s What I Call Music! for Act III.

On this record, she takes the hottest songs from the past decade — think all the Number One hits from 2010 until now — and elevates them to unimaginable levels, further proving a point with her talent. Imagine Bey-quality harmonies and vocal runs on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” a couple of cocky, shit-talking verses for her own rendition of Drake’s “God’s Plan,” and a Renaissance-era spin on Dua Lipa’s “Levitating.” Perhaps the “Video Phone” singer can even transform Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” earworm into a masterpiece that completely realigns the music canon. While it might be hard to imagine her voice on some of these hits of yesterday, peep how she just sonically transformed an already perfect song, “Jolene.” Of course, in keeping with her plan to shift the music industry back to a physical sales model, Act III will only be available to purchase through big-box retailers and small record stores. No streams.  —E.B.

Sanga Ternt Rappa: Beyoncé Comes for Kendrick’s Pulitzer

Beyoncé’s last two albums have been all about reclamation, but Act III? This a reminder:  Queen Bey, who manages to outrap everyone when invited to do so, is releasing a rap album of her own. As a 1980s baby who came of age as rap became pop, Beyoncé has had a front-row seat to the ways the commercialization of hip-hop has often misconstrued, used, and diluted it. On Bey Boy, the trinity’s last installment, she gets to the roots of the genre and gets real in 16s that take her myriad of critics head on. She tackles social issues with a new forthrightness, like on standout track “Whose Flag?” that draws a clear throughline between America’s imperialism abroad and racism at home. She gets real boom-bappy, too, with production from the Alchemist, DJ Premier, and the late J Dilla’s archives. Sure, there are intricate vocal flourishes and stacked hooks scattered about, but Bey Boy is straight bars. M.C.

Sloop John Bey

We loved how elegantly Beyoncé incorporated “Good Vibrations” into “Ya Ya,” making Cowboy Carter’s genre-destroying high point its own teenage symphony to God. So how about Act III looks even further out to sea: an album of surf-rock. Many are clamoring for Beyoncé to do a rock record, but zeroing in on the surf subgenre would have bros and Bettys alike stoked. Enlist Los Straitjackets as the backing band and let it rip. The photo shoot alone would be worth it: Beach Blanket Beyoncé! Or tap the Wondermints, the L.A. band that gave Brian Wilson his own third act, for a more orchestral beach vibe. Who wouldn’t want to hear Beyoncé rewrite “California Girls” like she did “Jolene”? Or recast any number of Beach Boys hits. If she’s proved anything with her daring reclamation of country, it’s that she wasn’t just made for these times.  ­—J.H.

AbBey Road 

If you enjoyed what Her Majesty did with “Blackbiird” on Cowboy Carter, that’s just the beginning, because for her next act, it’s her full-on album of Beatles covers: AbBey Road. The cover art is four Beyoncés walking across Abbey Road — all of them looking back at Drake, because she’s got more slaps. CowBey McCarterney reworks the Fab Four’s catalog into her own personal statements: “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Ono Sideboards,” “Chardonneigh Fields Forever,” “Mother Destiny’s Child,” “Nothing Real Can Be Threatened and Nothing to Get Hung About,” “I Want Me (I’m So Heavy),” “You Always Give Me Your Money,” “Plastic Knowles Band,” and the 23-second acoustic snippet at the end, “Her Majesty’s a Clever Girl. “ If you play it backwards, you can hear her voice say, “Here’s another clue for you all: Becky was Paul.” —R.S.

An Ode to the Girl Group

If Renaissance explored the roots of house music and ballroom culture and Cowboy Carter highlighted the Black origins of country music, then Act III will reminisce on Beyoncé’s own musical beginning: the girl group.

Her next act will capture Beyoncé reuniting with her Destiny’s Child groupmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for an entirely new song that celebrates their start. She’ll also pay tribute to some of the most iconic Black girl groups of the past. She’ll feature her hero Diana Ross (remember how she came out with her during Bey Day?) on a reimagined version of the Supremes’ “Baby Love.” Expect a sample of the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman,” as well.

On the majority of the record, though, Bey will tap Nineties R&B on songs including a collab with TLC’s Chilli and T-Boz in tribute to the late Left Eye, produced by Missy Elliott. Don’t be surprised to see an Xscape, SWV, and/or En Vogue interpolation, either. 

She’ll also use her album to uplift British R&B trio FLO, the future of the girl group. Oh, and she’ll duet with former Fifth Harmony star Normani on another track. (I was gonna say she’ll reunite 5H, but we’re being realistic here.)  — T.M.

Crowning the Queen of Rock and Roll’s Successor 

There’s a growl in the way that Beyoncé delivers those “Ya Ya” lyrics about a man keeping faith in his heart and a pistol on his dashboard. The song spans a myriad of references and influences, but the imprint of Tina Turner is unmistakable. Beyoncé has often cited the trailblazing musician as one of her greatest inspirations. “When I was a kid and I saw her tapes, I wanted to be like her,” she once said. She’s even referred to the Queen of Rock and Roll as “the ultimate.” That growl, and the way that Beyoncé unleashes this other side of herself vocally as she traverses genres, is one of Turner’s greatest gifts to music. 

It’s the same release we hear in Miley Cyrus’ gritty, unmistakable snarl, or in Hayley Williams’ voice when she’s gloriously unraveling across Paramore’s records and redefining the boundaries between pop and rock. We’ve heard Beyoncé bulldoze these parameters on B’Day’s “Ring the Alarm” and Lemonade’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” her Jack White-assisted ode to feminine rage. For all of these women, rock is more than just bringing in a thicker bass line or more guitars. It’s about release — vocally, spiritually, physically. And it’s about more than using loud instruments to signify anger. We know how much Beyoncé loves to sing about love. Rock is the perfect outlet for that, too — for communicating something that can be so primal and entirely consuming without discernible rhyme or reason.

To delve into classic rock would be obvious, and in some ways restrictive to an artist as clever and imaginative as Beyoncé — though the motorcycles and leather-forward aesthetic approach would make for some fiery visuals. But there’s a hunger for understanding and connection in the glittering snarl of pop-rock and all its malleable contours. It’s where innovating pioneers like Tina Turner, Talking Heads, and Prince — each wielding a different use of the genre — converge. It’s due time for us to see how Beyoncé defines it for herself.  —L.P.

For Those About To Rock

For Beyoncé, genres are not constraints. Instead they’ve served as historical contexts from which her boundless creativity emerges, since well before her declared Renaissance arrived. In her genre-bending world, it only makes sense that Beyoncé is going to all-out rock next, this being far from her first rodeo and a space she’s long inhabited. With her excellent ear for fucking with styles and making them her own, and rock & roll being an amalgamation of Black American music that was appropriated from its progenitors, it is a worthy next stop for reclamation.

But where could she go next in a genre so vast with subgenres that all could benefit from the Bey touch? She tipped her hat to Chuck Berry on Cowboy Carter, and it makes sense that the man who pioneered rock & roll would also be included in a Beyrock album, as would other pioneering Black artists from rock’s bluesy bedrock origins. Trixie Smith, Bessie Smith, Little Richard, Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe are among just a handful of artists Professor Bey could sample in her essential musical history lesson.


There are plenty of living legends she could invite for collaborations, such as Sly Stone, Vernon Reid, Slash, Tom Morello, and Grace Jones. There’s also the doo-wop of it, the gospel, funk, and soul of it. Rockabilly, punk, riot grrrl, new wave, glam rock – a cornucopia of styles and eras ripe for Beyoncé’s take. Or how about hearing her channel Labelle, Betty Davis, X-Ray Spex, and, of course, Tina Turner?

She could flip the script on rock songs named after women — that could be an album in itself. Where Beyoncé takes Act III is anyone’s guess, but it’s a good bet that it will be an exhilarating ride. –A.L.


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Freelance journalist covering Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Bylines in the South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asia, The Telegraph and other outlets. Past TV work for ABC News US, Al Jazeera English and TRT World. Previously reported out of Taiwan.