The Queen B, Beyoncé, enlivens the summer season with a full-length album tailored to the ballrooms of the urban club scene and inspires voguing to a whole new height paying homage to dance floor devotees and the musical styling of House Music!
Pop music has been due for a shake-up, a rebirth! The global pandemic had obliterated nightclub culture keeping the dance floor faithful indoors and away from social events. Only recently have circuit parties and music festivals returned to event calendars. The largely outdoor spectacles have the advantage of minimizing the probability of a super-spreader COVID event. Artists have had to find creative ways of expressing themselves, and some have taken to isolation as a way to stimulate their connections, reminding us that we are meant to get together.
As one of the most versatile artists to have emerged from the decadent 90s era of mostly manufactured teen pop and earned her way out of the girl band branding that put her on the top of the music charts as one of the charter members of the girl group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has always kept her ear close to the changing tide of pop music. She’s also effectively influenced music with her impassioned connection to pop/r&b the likes of Michael Jackson, with the performance ferociousness of Tina Turner, and the commerciality and unpredictability of Madonna, while charting her own path.
During quarantine, Beyoncé channeled her energies and inevitably decided that dance music’s spirit was moving her and that she would reimagine herself as the mother of one of the most fashionable houses fierce enough to challenge the ballroom — angling to take home the top prize! On her latest full-length album project entitled RENAISSANCE in this the first of three acts, Queen B has scored 10s across the board, with her ode to funk, disco, and house music and capitalizing on the strength of a community that has largely appeared disenfranchised, but no longer.
The overall themes on the album’s 16-track setlist deliver a mantra of acceptance, expression of one’s own authenticity, and most importantly finding that uniqueness; it’s a celebration of joyful realization that in order to survive you have to share all that is most definably “you” with the world. Beyoncé doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the paralyzing fear that might be holding anyone back but insists that it’s worth stepping up to it, and facing those demons — otherwise, you are destined to feel the heel of that boot on your neck for as long as you allow it to keep you in its thrall.
Comfortable in Her Skin
Inhabiting the force of those that have come before her, Beyoncé accesses the DNA of soulful funk sounds introduced by Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC, the synth-disco inspiration of Giorgio Moroder and his muse, Donna Summer, and the rhythmic dance/pop fusion that ignited Madonna’s innovation. RENAISSANCE is leaps and bounds beyond just a tribute or examination of dance music through the last several decades, it is a re-imaging of what the genre is going to be compared to in the next millennium.
We all knew that Beyoncé had it in her! To have so many times during the course of her career dipped her toes in the beats per minute and rallied her audience to the club scene, to now wholeheartedly embrace the dance genre so provocatively and with such pure dimension, it is warp speed ahead of any expectation. The setlist plays like a party album, and as the promised “Act I” of a supposed trilogy, the artist is daring her fans to sit on the sidelines. The debut single “BREAK MY SOUL” is a resolute anthem and call to arms — “Release ya wiggle!” And yes — we will!
Though it keeps its feet very closely grounded on the disco dance floor it walks alongside all those that have stepped foot on the ballroom and revealed their epic selves, clearing the way for any and all that are prepared to follow and make it their own — RENAISSANCE has decidedly bent every rule of the dance genre and begs the next innovators to go even further. “COZY” is a relentless floor-thumper that has a generously hypnotic drive and is an instant crowd-pleaser. It feels familiar and on-brand for the artist, and rhythmically explosive. It’s how anyone would like to get their evening started.
To her credit, Beyoncé exposes her musicality and is fearless in her effort to emerge as an innovator. It’s what makes her such an interesting artist and ensures her legacy. When compared to Madonna, who was often criticized for her existential marketing instincts and accused of appropriating musical styles, Madonna’s innovations in the music industry paved the way for pop artists, especially female acts, to step forward. Beyoncé has taken the note, walked through the door, and unscrewed the hinges, widening the space and letting loose!
Release the Wiggle!
The summer circuit season may not have had the resurgence that it needed, but it's been resuscitated and its life force has been extended. Beyoncé releases RENAISSANCE at an extremely pivotal time in 2022; the music world has needed an album of this type and substance. This album is an acute blend of various dance genres, exasperated by House and Disco, with influences that are so ingrained in the legendary gay club sound of the 80s and 90s elevating their obscurity into the mainstream. This isn’t a feat so easily translates to success. Not every artist has that type of a Midas touch.
Madonna’s dalliance with electronica on her Grammy-winning 1998 release Ray of Light reinvigorated her legitimacy as a prolific musician, with a fearless approach to exploring her musicality. Beyoncé is now on a similar trajectory with RENAISSANCE destined to redesign her reach across the pop-music spectrum. This Act I has every earmark to rise above the dance-melee of releases of this season, and will likely guarantee the artist her first Dance Album of the Year Grammy win; a close competitor to Drake’s recent release Honestly, Nevermind which is also a departure for the R&B/Hip-Hop artist.
Most of all this is a signal to all artists to fearlessly challenge their own viability and elasticity in the music market. As Beyoncé has always demonstrated, she hasn’t allowed herself to be built into a corner by label demands or the dictation of their marketing regimes. She has indelible control of her music and image, especially how her music is released and to whom it is marketed. RENAISSANCE ACT I is the beginning of her profound evolution, and how music will be proliferated into the next cycle. Fortunately for us, music is on the verge of striking a new pose!
Check out the music video here for the first single off of RENAISSANCE “BREAK MY SOUL”:
RENAISSANCE ACT I | by Beyoncé is available to download on iTunes and additional digital music store outlets. Download from iTunes here.