Writing club anthems is not new territory for Beyoncé (see: “Get Me Bodied,” “Party,” “Single Ladies,” “Green Light,” “Freakum Dress,” etc., etc.). However, with her newest release, Renaissance, the icon delves fully into the history of dance music across decades, resulting in a sonically mesmerizing work that builds upon the greats of the past.
Renaissance opens with “I’m That Girl,” which makes crystal clear that Beyoncé exists in her own lane, and that her only competition is herself. This declaration is further affirmed with the exhilarating “Cozy,” which makes the singer untouchable as she exudes comfortability not only in her own skin, but her status as one of our greatest living artists. With this level of self-assuredness comes a heightened sensuality, backed up with blood-pumping erotic imagery. To quote Beyoncé: She’s “feelin’ herself”—fully, and without reservation or apologies. It’s an undoubtedly sexy track, infused with a contagious confidence.
Queen B lets loose in songs like “Church Girl,” a rowdy anthem for the girls who bust it down in the clubs on a Saturday but arise for a morning prayer on Sunday. Beyoncé mixes bass-boosted bars with smooth-as-silk vocals, resulting in a constantly enticing flow. In this moment, it’s worth noting the exquisite transitions between each song, which allow Renaissance to exist as a nonstop musical experience. When the album inevitably makes its way to DJ playlists, there will be no need for tweaking, just pressing play.
Ultimately, Renaissance was made for the clubs. It’s a work that should be consumed in communion, skin-to-skin with strangers on a lit up dance floor. Beyoncé harnesses influences from genres such as disco, funk, and house to create a work that’s perfect for bumping and grinding. The vibe is insatiable on tracks such as “Virgo’s Groove,” which takes the listener on a glossy, swirling thrill ride. And on songs like “Thique,” a thumping track meant for shaking ass, Beyoncé celebrates the body and all it has to offer. Throughout, the insatiable momentum of Renaissance never wanes, as seen in the penultimate track “Pure/Honey,” a highlight of the album.
Beyoncé closes the album with “Summer Renaissance,” sampling the one and only Donna Summer. Grace Jones joins her on the song “Move,” making Renaissance a conversation between Bey and the icons who came before her.
While Lemonade exists as a love letter to Black women—their history and experience—Renaissance continues this message, bringing queerness and transness into the fold. The influence of Black dance music and ballroom culture is impossible to ignore in Renaissance, and Beyoncé pays homage with the inclusion of LGBTQ artists such TS Madison, Big Freedia, Honey Dijon, Moi Renee, MikeQ, and Kevin Aviance. Within the lyrics, Beyoncé utilizes ballroom slang such as, “Category: Sexy bitch,”and “Cunty.” While stepping into a new era, she graciously honors other legacies.
In a message shared prior to the release of the album, Beyoncé wrote: “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.” She achieves this in full with Renaissance, which cultivates a space of expression, self-love, and difference.