The GuardianThe Guardian

Beyoncé returns with Renaissance: a play for the mainstream and a strike against perfectionism

By Michael Cragg

28 Jul 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Have you listened to Beyoncé's new album yet? Here, The Guardian breaks down the album and Beyoncé's new approach to her music.

A new Beyoncé album is always a blockbuster event – a moment of pop culture unity in a fractured landscape. The difference with this week’s Renaissance, however, is that it is one that fans have had time to prepare for. While 2013’s Beyoncé and 2016’s Lemonade both arrived with little to no warning, her seventh album has followed a more traditional roll-out: it was announced six weeks ago in conjunction with a Vogue cover and followed by a single, the 90s house throwback Break My Soul. Beyoncé even joined TikTok earlier this month – the de facto promo tool for any contemporary pop star.

Renaissance will be closely scrutinised for what it says and how much it sells. Short of the unlikely event of Rihanna releasing her follow-up to 2016’s Anti, Renaissance is 2022’s most anticipated superstar album and one that has already seen the 40-year-old pop star return to the upper echelons of the singles charts. In America, Break My Soul became Beyoncé’s first solo Top 10 single in six years and placed the former Destiny’s Child star alongside Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney as the only artists in Billboard history to achieve at least 20 Top 10 songs as a solo artist and 10 as a member of a group. In the UK, meanwhile, Break My Soul currently sits at No 4, marking her first foray into the Top 10 since 2013’s Drunk in Love.

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