Beyoncé: Renaissance Woman


via Beyoncé

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter reclines on a transparent horse in front of a Renaissance-style painting while singing into a microphone. Beyoncé’s latest album, released July 29, 2022, is escapism at its finest, combining house, disco, soul and R&B influences.

When Beyoncé Knowles-Carter debuted in 1998, it was the heyday of CD players and Walkmans. Although that might seem like a lifetime ago to Los Altos High School students, Beyoncé’s fusion of both nostalgic and innovative sounds has kept her relevant and influential, especially on her latest album, “RENAISSANCE.” With a sample from the ’70s disco star Donna Summer and appearances from legends Grace Jones and Madonna, it’s clear that Beyoncé’s idea of a renaissance may not be what you had in mind. 

Forget corsets and nobility Beyoncé is resurrecting ’90s house music and unforgettable ’70s disco grooves. The inspiration from Michael Jackson and Motown Records, as well as homages to the gay subculture of the 20th century, blend with her modern take on music. From track to track, she stunningly simulates the carefree and youthful sounds of MJ’s 1979 “Off the Wall,” and stacks harmonies like the soulful Isley Brothers. Flamboyant melodies with commanding basslines tip a hat to sounds that shaped the culture, while tracks like “CUFF IT” and “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” embody the heart of disco. 

Beyoncé’s message is clear: she wants you to stand up, then drop it down.

While paying tribute to music that paved the way, she still makes sure to keep her teen-through-millennial audience in mind. “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” certifies her as a hit maker in 2022’s music scene,  as she croons, “I’m too classy for this world, forever I’m that girl.” Could there be a statement that embodies 2022 more?

The somewhat annoying trend of “brag rap” isn’t lost on Beyoncé either, but her boasts make perfect sense, elevating the deeper messages behind the album. She has never shied away from candid and empowering lyricism; on this album, it’s more straight up than ever. “Nobody can judge me but me, I was born free,” she says on “CHURCH GIRL;” Monday I’m overrated, Tuesday on my d*ck,” she vocalizes on the pulsating “HEATED.” 

Beyoncé embodies the hallmark of a great artist: she holds the ability to meld past art with current trends, while still creating a distinct and unique sound. While holding firmly onto commercial success and TikTok-worthy beats, she hasn’t forgotten the infectious sound that is just classically Beyoncé. 

A true entwinement of past and present, “RENAISSANCE” is a puzzle. Each song builds upon a larger storyline, harmonizing to create a crystal-clear picture. As track eight, “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA,” melts into “VIRGO’S GROOVE,” Beyoncé’s cleverly formatted fairytale progresses without a hitch. 

One thing is for sure Beyoncé is more in love and liberated than ever. This is the most explicit she’s has ever been on an album, but the intimacy and honesty of each raunchy interaction turn the moment gracefully on its head. Take “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA,” the album’s quintessential ballad. “I think you’re so cool, boy, I love that you can’t help but be yourself around me.” Beyoncé is practically starry-eyed with emotion, ’70s style. Yet we’re also gifted the sultry, unmistakable innuendos reminiscent of Beyoncé’s earlier single, “Partition.” With unabashed lyricism, “THIQUE,” where she sings about “that oochie coochie, la la,” makes listeners wonder if the song was secretly meant for her 2013 self-titled release. 

On her first project of the new decade, Beyoncé invites listeners to a one-woman Renaissance Fair. “RENAISSANCE” continues the saga of Beyoncé’s endearing fascination with being a Virgo, and comes equipped with visuals fit for the Sistine Chapel. But beware, in true time capsule fashion, you’ll have to leave your worries at the door and pull on a pair of gogo boots.