It’s shaping up to be one of the biggest music events of the entire year, and we’re just days away from it.
On July 29th, Beyonce will release her seventh studio album ‘Renaissance’, and if the lead single ‘Break My Soul’ is anything to go by, fans could be in for a new dance-oriented era of the pop/r’n’b superstar’s career.
The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Lemonade’ - not counting her 2019 live album ‘Homecoming’, her collaborative album as The Carters with Jay Z in 2018, or her soundtrack album ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ in 2019 - will be released on July 29th.
Details on the album - who she’s worked with, when it was recorded, who are its producers - are very thin on the ground, but here’s what we know so far about it.
THE LEAD SINGLE
It wasn’t just us who were surprised by ‘Break My Soul’; Beyonce doing ‘90s house is what the kidz would call 'a flex'. Yet it 100%, completely, totally works. She sampled Robin S.’s 1993 hit ‘Show Me Love’, as well as New Orleans rapper Big Freedia’s 2014 song ‘Explode’ - and showcased a new sound that may well signal a new direction for Bey.
WHAT HAS SHE SAID ABOUT IT?
Last year, she told Harper’s Bazaar that the pandemic and political upheaval had played a role in the new album’s shape. “With all the isolation and injustice over the past year, I think we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again,” she said. “I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible.”
Her recent Instagram post elaborated on that musing, saying: “Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration. I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are.”
Release the wiggle? We’re preparing to dance.
Variety, meanwhile, allege that they’ve got an inside scoop on how the album might sound and claim it’ll include ‘dance and country-leaning tracks’, while British Vogue say that it’ll feature “influences from 1990s garage, 1980s "excess", and a "glittering retro-futurism’.”
WHAT’S THE TRACKLISTING?
1. ‘I’m That Girl’
3. ‘Alien Superstar’
4. ‘Cuff It’
6. ‘Break My Soul’
7. ‘Church Girl’
8. ‘Plastic Off The Sofa’
9. ‘Virgo’s Groove’
13. ‘All Up in Your Mind’
14. ‘America Has A Problem’
16. ‘Summer Renaissance’
WHO HAS SHE WORKED WITH ON THE ALBUM?
There doesn’t seem to be any guest appearances on the tracks - that we know of so far, at least - but there’s a huge number of familiar names in the songwriting credits.
Drake is listed as a co-writer on the track ‘Heated’; soul star Raphael Saadiq is also involved
Meanwhile, Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder are listed as co-writers on closing track ‘Summer Renaissance’ - will we hear a sample of ‘I Feel Love’ or ‘Love to Love You Baby’, or even ‘Hot Stuff’ on that track?!
She has worked with Sonny Moore aka Skrillex on ‘Energy’, which also lists The Neptunes aka Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo as writers.
Another track, ‘Alien Superstar’, features writing credits for everyone from Jay Z to Labrinth to Dave Hamelin of indie-rock band The Stills.
‘Cuff It’, meanwhile, was co-written with Nile Rodgers of Chic and Raphael Saadiq, amongst others, while ‘Church Girl’ lists James Brown as a co-writer, which suggests that we’ll hear a sample of some sort from the Godfather of Soul on that track.
Other acts with production or songwriting credits include R’n’B artist The-Dream, Michael Pollack (Justin Bieber, Katy Perry), producers BloodPop (Lady Gaga), Mike Dean (Lana Del Rey, 2Pac, Kid Cudi, Madonna, Travis Scott), Neenyo (Drake), Hit-Boy (Kanye West, Lil Wayne), Syd (formerly of Odd Future) and Nija Charles (Beyonce & Jay Z, Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande).
Phew! That’s a lot of names - but it is shaping up to be one of the biggest albums of the year, after all.
HOW LONG IS IT?
It’s 16 tracks long with a running time of 62:14.
THE COVER ART
That’s a very striking cover, right? As many have noted, it recalls the legend of Lady Godiva, who is said to have ridden naked through the streets of Coventry on horseback in the 13th century, with only her long hair covering her.
Others have drawn parallels with Bianca Jagger (former wife of Mick), who famously rode a white horse into Studio 54 in the 1970s (although she later disputed actually riding it in and said she just sat on it.)
The multidisciplinary artist Nusi Quero (who was also responsible for Grimes’ elaborate back tattoo, and is best known for his 3D-printed corsets) designed her outfit.