Opinion: Beyoncé, this is better than a bubble bath

The track is Bey’s first single from her seventh solo album, “Renaissance,” and it’s precisely in the vibe of her stressed-out, post-pandemic audience. “Damn, they work too hard for me, I work at nine, then five,” she sings over a churning instrumental that recalls the hysterical anxiety familiar to someone who’s committed to too many projects, so she found herself gasping for breath when the deadlines came. falling around them.

As always, Beyoncé has her finger on America’s racing pulse, and in the grand tradition of burnout anthems, she’s produced a song full of energy. Like Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”, there’s no suggestion of stopping to rest. With a sound designed for lively clubs at 2am, “Break My Soul” recognizes the nightmare that is passing through overwhelming pressure and offers a rhythm to keep you awake while you do it.

The song marks a sharp turnaround from Beyoncé’s 2016 hit “Formation,” which exemplified the “rise and crunch” mentality that dominated the 2010s with lyrics like “I dream, work hard, work hard until I own it.” As famous for her relentless work ethic as her talent, Beyoncé was the perfect figure for the hustle and bustle culture of that decade – typified by the meme “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé.” If you worked with Beyoncé, that was literally true: in the 2011 short film “Year of 4,” which documented the making of the singer’s fourth album, Beyoncé proudly declared, “If I’m not sleeping, no one is sleeping.”

However, despite a level of wealth and celebrity that isolates her entirely from the real world, Beyoncé seems to have come to grips with the fact that her denizens are tired of routine. The fantasy that we are only a certain number of sleepless nights away from fulfilling our ambitions has crumbled, and we don’t want to be driven into action by the rare freaks of nature or privilege that chased their dreams and actually caught them.

When Kim Kardashian told Variety in March that the secret to success was “Take your [expletive] [expletive] Get up and work,” her cranky, sleep-deprived audience raged in response. Kardashian later insisted the quote was taken out of context, but the damage was done. whose success is obstructed by sexist and racist systems that ensure that, for for some, the race to the top is significantly smoother than for others.

That’s why burnout music has to be lively and challenging. Floating exhortations to slow down and take care of yourself would be unbearable when, for many of us, dropping tools to rest is not a viable option. You can tell within the first 10 seconds of “Break My Soul” that Beyoncé – and arguably everyone who worked with her – sweated blood for this record. Even though she’s tempered her philosophy on paper since “Formation,” one suspects that, in reality, producing music for a fanbase accustomed to nothing but hits still requires a courageous willingness to work until the job is done.

David Bowie and Queen shared this fanaticism when they produced their 1981 hit “Under Pressure” in a haze of competition, bickering and – as Far Out Magazine put it – amidst “animosity, wine, cocaine and vocal battles”. Never underperformed, Dolly Parton penned her iconic 1980 single “9 to 5” on the set of the film for which it was the soundtrack, tapping the baseline with her nails between takes playing a put-up desk. It’s no accident that both songs inject energy and life into the listener – it’s a far more useful result than wallowing in the fatigue and relentlessness of it all.

Everyone who hears “Break My Soul” understands that Beyoncé lives an enchanted life. She says she “fired” the job, and we know that if she really did, she already has enough money to fund a thousand pensions.

But burnout songs are not instruction manuals. They are expressions of frustration that are, of necessity, created by people with far more energy and resources than people intended to hear them. It would be agonizing if Beyoncé produced a record about being tired that actually sounds tired, complete with serious suggestions that we all take a bubble bath. Who has time? We’re outdoing ourselves – so bring on the beat with caffeine and adrenaline, and let’s yawn and stretch and try to come alive.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: