Smoke Hour ★ Gems
Elite Daily ranked all the features on Beyoncé's latest album, 'Cowboy Carter.'
Beyoncé's Cowboy Carter Collaborations, Ranked

Let’s get lost in the features.

Welcome to Beyoncé’s KNTRY Radio Texas. The radio station is home to Cowboy Carter, the second act in her ongoing trilogy of albums. True to Beyoncé’s sonic genius, this record rivets with a reminder that she can make any genre her own. The singer cruises through the sounds of the American South on Cowboy Carter, blending country and blues-y rock in a way that feels like an overdue music history lesson. Luckily, she’s invited country’s most iconic and newest stars to help her teachings.

On the album’s interludes, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson act as a guiding spirit. In between soft lullabies and brash production, other surprising acts such as Miley Cyrus and Post Malone find a comforting home. Newcomers such as Brittney Spencer, Tanner Adell, Shaboozey, Tiera Kennedy, and more make some impressive impressions. And fittingly, Beyoncé invites another Carter — her daughter, Rumi — to make her album debut.

In honor of Cowboy Carter’s release, here’s a ranking of all the album’s collaborations.

“Protector” With Rumi Carter
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Cowboy Carter begins on a crescendo (“Ameriican Requiem”), before slowing to softer production. Or, as Beyoncé’s 6-year-old daughter Rumi Carter says, “a lullaby.” Rumi appears in the first few seconds of “Protector,” a tender ballad about Beyoncé’s devotion to protect her until she’s ready to spread her wings.

“Smoke Hour” & “Smoke Hour II” With Willie Nelson

Make room for another Texas icon: Willie Nelson. On the first “Smoke Hour” interlude, listeners are introduced to the album as a station called KNTRY Radio Texas. After flipping through several bluesy-rock snippets (think Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Down by the River Side” and Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene”), Nelson comes on the mic to introduce Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

Nelson later returns for “Smoke Hour II,” where he defines himself as the person listeners go to for “some good sh*t.” The music in question? Beyoncé’s next track, “Just For Fun.” These interludes are full-circle moments for Beyoncé, who wore a t-shirt featuring Nelson on the cover of Texas Monthly in 2004. Now, two decades later, to hear him compliment her foray into country? That’s what dreams are made of.

“Dolly P” With Dolly Parton
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Dolly Parton’s presence on Cowboy Carter was expected. However, it was still a sweet surprise to hear her briefly slow down the album with an interlude. On the fittingly titled “Dolly P,” Parton talks about a woman with “flamin’ locks of auburn hair” the world has come to know and despise: Jolene. She then compares her to the “hussy with the good hair” — ahem, Becky — before introducing the next track: Beyoncé’s riff of “Jolene.”

Though short, “Dolly P” is an iconic reminder of how songwriting can influence artists’ across many genres. To hear Beyoncé use her warm runs to talk her sh*t on a country record? Even Parton herself was gagged.

“Just For Fun” With Willie Jones
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On “Just For Fun,” Beyoncé and singer Willie Jones (who’s also known for experimenting with different sounds of country) unite for some gorgeous harmonies. Though heavily relying on guitars, there’s an underlying wave of gospel that comes in the end of the track, and it fits their voices well.

“Blackbiird” With Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy & Reyna Roberts
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Let’s slow the tempo again. On “Blackbiird,” a cover of The Beatles’ 1968 ballad of the same name, Beyoncé sings alongside four rising Black women country singers: Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, Tanner Adell, and Reyna Roberts. (Adell’s name might sound familiar to BeyHive, as she teased her appearance on the album in February.)

It’s a treat to hear their voices unite in light melodies and harmonies, as this track was originally written with Black women who were present in the Civil Rights Movement in mind. In Barry Miles’ 1997 book Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney said: “This was really a song from me to a Black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.’”

“Spaghettii” With Linda Martell & Shaboozey
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When the world needed her most, Rapyoncé returned with a winking smirk. On “Spaghetti,” Beyoncé uses Linda Martell’s — a Black country legend — quotes about genre to make one thing clear: She will always be her own genre. She’ll never let her creativity solely attach to one sound, and that’s what makes Beyoncé’s discography so intriguing. With a biting cadence, Beyoncé raps that “she isn’t a regular singer,” but an untouchable star.

Obviously, she isn’t alone in affirming her status. Shaboozey, a Nigerian-American country rapper, eases in with a verse. Though it’s brief, it’s a welcome introduction to his talent.

“Levii’s Jeans” With Post Malone
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On the swaying “Levii’s Jeans,” Beyoncé surprisingly taps Post Malone to seduce listeners. Malone’s voice ripples in its usual auto-tuned; however, it’s a bit more subtle on this track.

“Sweet Honey Buckin’” With Shaboozey
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Shaboozey is back with another stellar feature. On the infectious “Sweet Honey Buckin’,” the rapper flaunts his love of cowboy culture over a stuttering Jersey beat. There’s a saddle mention here, a saucy nod to his heavy bank account there — it’s simple yet hypnotic enough to make your head sway side to side. Beyoncé then returns to the mic and transforms the track into a pulsing dance number that’s reminiscent of Renaissance.

“II Most Wanted” With Miley Cyrus
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This a collaboration the world needed. On “II Most Wanted,” Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus unite to highlight their greatest vocal talents. Beyoncé toys with her higher register, while Cyrus settles comfortably in the lower notes. There’s no uncomfortable overlap or overpowering — just two powerful singers gliding like honey against a soft guitar.