She’s That Girl: How Beyoncé uses surprise and reinvention to stay on top

fFor Beyoncé fans, the agonizing wait for a new album is over. After a month-long rollout, including the release of lead single Break My Soul in June, the US artist has officially released her seventh studio album. Renaissance. When she revealed the project’s title last month, she stated her intention that it would serve as a safe space for her creativity, free from judgment. “A place where you’re free from perfectionism and overthinking,” she said. “A place to scream, let go, feel freedom.” On 15 tracks, she shows us exactly what she meant. A sizzling mix of ballroom, disco, house and soul, Renaissance is a celebration with no whiny ballads in sight. From opener “I’m That Girl,” Beyoncé tells us: She’s grown up, she’s liberated, and she doesn’t answer to anyone but herself.

The album could herald the beginning of a different era for the 40-year-old pop powerhouse. But even more RenaissanceThe launch of is an example of Beyoncé’s creative choices making waves around the world. Despite a last-minute leak that made the album available early for those who couldn’t wait, the majority of fans held out until the clock struck midnight on Friday, July 29th. Of course, a Beyoncé experience has to be authentic. Within minutes, the album rocketed to the top of the charts and unified social media timelines in a way only a Beyoncé release can. Whether you’re a super fan or more neutral about the Bey phenomenon, there’s no denying that she uniquely handles the public’s attention. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

For those immersed in the Beyhive, there’s little debate about the moment Beyoncé’s power became an undisputed fact. The journey began in 2003 when a stint with Destiny’s Child gave her the space to launch as a solo artist Dangerous in love. Later the release of “Single Ladies” by her I’m Sasha Fierce Double album made the phrase “a ring on it” an indelible part of engagement announcements. But the moment that really signaled Beyoncé’s future as the reigning queen of pop came on the morning of December 13, 2013, when the then 32-year-old released her fifth album on iTunes. Simply titled BEYONCE, The record came complete with music videos, collaborations and merchandise – and without warning.

At that time, the idea of ​​surprising the world with a full-fledged project without advertising was novel. Album rollouts were carefully planned affairs, with singles consistently teased out as a preview of the project as a whole. Artists were expected to present their product to the world through interviews, magazine covers, live performances and TV spots. BEYONCE was a game changer, and its publication generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. Beyoncé’s co-stars, including Taylor Swift, Eminem, and Drake, have since used the same method to release albums in a way that’s sparked just as much debate — if not more — than if they’d started the traditional album campaign. Until 2015, Friday was the globally agreed release day for new music – the success of BEYONCE is widely credited with influencing this decision.

Her love of good surprises continued in 2016 with Formation. Not only was this song and video first shared on the internet via an unlisted YouTube link, the content itself proved to be something that demanded immediate attention. With lyrics like “I love my negro nose and Jackson Five nostrils,” a video loaded with references to Southern black culture, and footage of cops raising their hands in a “don’t shoot” gesture, “Formation” was it first time Beyoncé had actively integrated experiences with black people at the forefront of her creative work. A virus SNL Sketch on “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” poked fun at the outrage of conservative viewers — of course, her race has never changed, but “Formation” was a departure from the largely unpoliticized work she’d delivered in the past.

Then Beyoncé squeezed some more lemons and that’s it lemonade, the 2016 visual album that explored themes of infidelity, defiance, anger and forgiveness while drawing attention to the specific generational issues of black women. Perhaps most shocking were the personal stories woven into the record, including hints that Beyoncé’s husband — rapper and business mogul Jay-Z — had been unfaithful. For a woman who has always kept her personal life so private, and still does, this was an extraordinary glimpse into her behind-the-scenes life.

Beyoncé in the artwork of her new album “Renaissance”

(Mason Poole)

It may have been six years before she released another solo album, but Beyoncé has barely left the cultural discourse since. There was Everything is love, her collaborative, forgiving album with Jay-Z. Her spectacular 2018 Coachella slot, which featured a marching band and traditions from America’s historically black universities and colleges, was nominated for an Emmy upon its release on Netflix in 2019 entitled: homecoming. Then, The gift saw Beyoncé collaborate with African artists for an eclectic album to tie in with the live-action film The Lion King. 2020, Black is king provided the opulent visual compilation and, like the projects before it, had the internet dissect songs and scenes for weeks.

Almost three decades into Beyoncé’s career, Renaissance shows us another facet of this bold, incomparable artist. Although years of politics and fear have been the main characteristics of her work, this time her sexy side is in the spotlight. Predictions of what “Church Girl” is go right out the window when she orders us to “drop it like a thottie” while celebrating her growing fortunes (both ass and cash) on “Thique.” House music is the beating heart of this new record, and the sampling of queer icons like Big Freedia, Ts Madison and Honey Dijon give the record an energy that’s decidedly upbeat and confident. It’s only the first in a planned trilogy, so one thing’s for sure: Beyoncé’s power isn’t going away anytime soon. She’s That Girl: How Beyoncé uses surprise and reinvention to stay on top


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