Beyonce is one of the greatest pop artists of all time, with her very name being synonymous with excellence and superstardom. The aptly named “Queen B” has been ubiquitous throughout the pop charts for almost 20 years, with each subsequent project and album garnering more hype than the last. So, it was no surprise that when Beyonce announced she would release a new album, “Renaissance,” the expectations were stratospheric. Nonetheless, the album left critics and audiences alike gushing with praise. Its unapologetic take on everything from politics to body image to sexuality showcases an artist at their peak.
One of my favorite aspects of an album is its ability to sound like a complete and coherent work. Too often, an album will sound like a collection of singles and not a unified project. “Renaissance” overcomes this problem, allowing songs to have different styles while still sounding like they belong together.
The songs are catchy and radio-worthy earworms that contain the politically and socially conscious lyrics we have come to expect from Beyonce. For example, “Cozy” discusses confidence and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, while “Alien Superstar” is all about confidence in one’s sexuality and sexual abilities. “Energy” is packed with politics, making references to former president Donald Trump leaving office – “voting out 45” – and the Jan. 6 insurrection – “Cause the Karens just turned into terrorists”.
“Break My Soul” is the standout track on this album. It manages to stand out as a triumphant and defiant dance anthem in an album chock-full of dance anthems. It is guaranteed to see heavy rotation at countless clubs and house parties. “Church Girls” utilizes gospel vocals while celebrating good girls gone bad. “Heated” sermonizes about positive body image, and “Thique” is an absolute bass boosted, speaker busting song that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser wherever it is played.
With the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down and the world cautiously returning to business as usual, people are eager to throw themselves into clubs and parties to make up for the time lost in quarantine and isolation. It is said that history does not often repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes. During the 1920s, people partied lavishly, tired from World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic. During 2022, this behavior is returning after another devastating pandemic. Seizing upon the public mood, Beyonce created a thundering album that captures the public’s post-pandemic longing for social interaction.
Just as jazz provided the background music for an era in American history, “Renaissance” will become the soundtrack for the neo-Roaring ’20s. While the album runs a little long, its exceptional fusion of socially conscientious lyrics and catchy pop tunes will make it a classic for decades to come. Although pop music is not my forte, in the words of the greatest doctor of our time, Stephen Strange, “Try me, Beyonce.”