“Bey is back and I’m sleepin’ real good at night.” With this lyric, we are officially in Beyoncé season. With a driving beat that calls people back to the dance floor to kick off Summer 2022, Beyoncé’s first single, “Break My Soul,” from her upcoming album, Renaissance, made its debut on June 21. Within hours, the single rose to the number one spot on iTunes in at least 30 countries—the biggest debut for a female artist so far this year. And this week, Beyoncé became the first woman, and the third performer of all time, to enjoy 20 Top Ten titles as a solo artist and at least 10 Top Ten tracks as a member of a group on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
While the album art is unfortunately not safe for work, Beyoncé’s first single from Renaissance is must listening, so pull out your headphones or ask Alexa to play it, stat.
With “Break My Soul,” Beyoncé once again showcases her roots as a Black woman from the South, this time paying particular homage to house music and bounce music, a style of New Orleans hip hop music that originated in the late ‘80s. The four-four rhythm samples Robin S.’s 1993 hit "Show Me Love” and vocals from bounce icon Big Freedia (who is also included in her song “Formation” on Lemonade). While drawing from these influences, “Break My Soul” is at the same time undeniably new and timely.
Coming after the summers of 2020 and 2021 were dampened by social distancing and less community involvement, “Break My Soul” celebrates a return to the public square. As Beyoncé sings during a bridge in the song:
“And we back outside / You said you outside, but you ain't that outside / Worldwide hoodie with the mask outside / In case you forgot how we act outside.”
Leave it to Beyoncé to officially declare the start of summer with an appeal for everyone to get outside and back in their communities.
“A new foundation”
At its basis, “Break My Soul” is a powerful anthem with lyrics that almost seem like they’ll come alive when echoed by an audience. It feels more than great to sing, “You won’t break my soul,” not alone but in concert with all humanity, declaring that no matter how tough the past few years have been, we are able to overcome. Or try the pre-chorus, “I'm lookin’ for motivation / I'm lookin’ for a new foundation, yeah / And I'm on that new vibration / I'm buildin' my own foundation.”
Not only does this song has a catchy beat, it boasts relatable lyrics that ring true to those who suffered through pandemic lockdowns, career burnout, ore who simply put the “pedal to the metal” in their daily lives despite overwhelming news stories and societal changes, that desperately needed to be mentally processed.
“I just quit my job”
Beyoncé touches on this feeling of being “over it” in the first verse: “And I just quit my job / I'm gonna find new drive / they work me so damn hard / Work by nine / Then off past five / And they work my nerves / That's why I cannot sleep at night.”
These are fitting words for how many of us feel—practically exceeding expectations, as mere hours after “Break My Soul” was released, people began to engage on social media expressing the inspiration to make a fresh start: “First, Beyoncé had us dumping our boyfriends. Now she has us quitting out jobs?! Queen of independence!!” And, “me quitting my job today bc Beyoncé told me to.”
While very humorously memed, the song apparently did seriously influence some people to quit jobs that they had been considering leaving for years (furthering the already present Great Resignation). Overall, this song has at least caused fans to reconsider the corporate “grind” culture and look for new motivation and maybe even “a new foundation,” as Beyoncé sings, instead of settling for a job that burns you out with little to no reward or benefit.
Perhaps this work will be a celebration and return to the positive energy of Beyoncé’s previous studio albums before her Lemonade era. While Lemonade is widely regarded as one of the most brilliantly formed bodies of musical work of the 21st century, its themes carry the weight of her husband’s infidelity, second guessing her marriage, and the healing of broken trust. This album might signify a rebirth.
With Renaissance slated to be released on July 29, audiences can look forward to the R&B and pop diva making a return centered on joy and good vibes. The thumping beat combined with relatable, crowd-beltable lyrics makes this first single a memorable track that promises a fantastic B7 era. If “Break My Soul” is any indication, “Bey is back,” and she’s bringing us along for the ride.