It is best that I start with a disclaimer. I’m not a mega Beyonce fan. I am but a very casual listener of Queen Bey. Nevertheless, I was as excited as her fans were when she announced a return to the music industry with Renaissance.
Furthermore, the most fun part of the announcement was the mass excitement and commentary on twitter dot com. It was one of the moments that reminded me how fun pop culture could be. Additionally, I expect that Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance next year or an announcement of an album would cause the same amount of excitement and hysteria on social media.
However, I digress. I am here to talk about the album, Renaissance. The album’s lead single, “Break My Soul” dropped on July 22. I remember it being a very mundane day. And that was how the song felt. Mundane. Ordinary. I found it… underwhelming. “This isn’t lead single material”, I thought. Certainly not the lead single I expected from Beyonce.
Furthermore, public opinion on “Break My Soul” was mixed. Some people loved the song, quickly immersing themselves in the fictional reprieve thesong provided. Fictional because no matter how many times they screamed “you won’t break my soul”, they weren’t quitting that soul-sucking job. But they enjoyed it nonetheless.
I, like many others, was disappointed but held hope that the album would sound better and provide better context for the song. However, after a few listens, I fully engaged in the song’s energy. Soon enough, I was releasing my anger and mind and taking my new salvation. I was singing “you won’t break my soul” with as much passion as I could muster.
The full album came out on July 29, 2022, and I knew it wasn’t my thing from the first listen. I’m not a big fan of the sound of the album. It’s not a genre of music I ordinarily enjoy. In a way, Renaissance reminded me of Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia.
While listening to the album, I tried to keep an open mind. I didn’t want any bias to influence my perception of the album. It didn’t take long for Alien Superstar to work its extraterrestrial goodness on me. It was the first song that I enjoyed and knew was gonna feature on my future playlists. In enjoying Alien Superstar, I got a better perspective of the whole album and provided more context to Break My Soul.
Renaissance is an upbeat dance album with RnB and afrobeat infusions. Each song transitioned smoothly into the next and coaxed my imaginary inner party girl out. While listening to the album, I couldn’t help but picture dancing to the songs and singing the lyrics with my best friends in a club and I’m not even a clubgoer. Neither do I have best friends I can go to the club with.
The album evokes a sense of community and camaraderie. The lyrics demand that you revel in who you are, accept your alien superstar and live out the unique in you.
While the album’s sound isn’t my thing, I have come to appreciate its significance. People aren’t fans of feel-good music these days. If it isn’t making you relive your childhood trauma or triggering a deeply repressed memory, people refuse to believe it’s good or quality music.
It makes me immensely happy that Beyonce decided to put out a happy, feel-good, dance-pop album that we didn’t even know we needed. That when I’m looking for something to dance to in my room, I have Renaissance. That just for an hour, my self-confidence can rise.
The Recording Academy nominated Renaissance for 9 Grammy awards. The album was nominated for Album of The Year. “Break My Soul” was nominated for Song of The Year, Record of The Year, and Best Dance/Electronic Recording. “Virgo’s Groove” was nominated for Best R&B Performance and “Plastic Off the Sofa” is up for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
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