From Alien Superstars and metallic to dive bars and yeehaws, Beyoncé is back! This time around, the 42-year-old megastar is ushering in a new era. After reclaiming house music and shifting the culture with 2022's larger-than-life RENAISSANCE: Act i, Bey is back & ready for Act ii with her eyes set on the world of country. Much speculation has been bubbling about what this new era would consist of following the Renaissance. Queen Bey began to confirm the theories and fan ideas of a country album with her appearance at the 66th Grammy Awards. Wearing fresh pieces from Pharrell Williams' latest Louis Vuitton collection and a bold white cowboy hat, she had many began believing she was transitioning to the country realm. Following the award show, on Sunday, (Feb 12), the mother of 3 100% confirmed the rumors and theories during the Super Bowl when she released not one but TWO brand new countrified singles, "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold 'Em."
Before the biggest night in the NFL, social media began swirling with rumors that the Houston native had a Super Bowl commercial this year with Verizon. Everyone knows that the commercials are one of the best parts of the Super Bowl (aside from the halftime show). This year the queen partnered with Verizon and dropped a huge bomb on the world releasing the singles following the commercial (where at the end, you hear her say "Now drop the new music."
Taking no time to fully immerse herself into the country realm, "Texas Hold Em" is upbeat, fun, and truly the epitome of country. With the banjo flaring, and the hoedown energy blazing, Beyonce tells listeners to "don't be a b***h" and take it to the floor to boogie to this country anthem. Like an urbanized, polished grown woman version of Hannah Montana's iconic Hoedown Throwdown, Beyonce lets her hair down, lays her problems to the dirt, and instead takes her time enjoying a night on the town and the dive bar to release the stresses of life. Honestly, it's country as hell... and it works for her still.
On the contrary, the latter, "16 Carriages" delivers one of the most beautiful ballads Beyonce has ever created. Subdued and slower, Beyonce breathily tells us this story of her life, the pursuit of her dreams, the sacrifices, and the pain of loss she's experienced since 15 years of age. She breaks down having to leave her home to do what she loves. Despite loving it, her life is not perfect. She notes having to grow up rather than enjoying the purities of being a child. She recounts her father's infidelity, and her watching her mother's pain while navigating her own pain of feeling overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed. Despite it all, she refuses to succumb to life's obstacles. Over a chilling guitar and electrifying production, she sings, " Sixteen carriages driving away/While I watch them ride with my fears away/To the summer sunset on a holy night/On a long back road, all the tears I fight."
Her voice shimmers. She glistens on this track and listeners can hear the maturity and beauty in her voice as she bellows about losing her innocence at 15 as she embarked on her path to becoming the global, worldwide sensation that we have come to know her as now. Her pain flows throughout the track mimicking the themes of heartfelt truth, loss, and resiliency that are seen and heard in country music. While both songs are glorious, 16 Carriages changes you as you listen to Beyonce open her heart on the wax. Melodious, pristine, and truly magnificent, Beyonce delivers one of the best songs of her career (I said what I said). There is magic, power, healing, and truth that flow through your body as you listen to this song. Her delivery is literally chilling and simply unparalleled. Her vocal control, execution, and passion are noteworthy. She creates a moment that will never be forgotten with this record. It is raw. It is honest. It is art.
While Bey has not given us the title of Act ii, we can rest assured that new standards will be set, boundaries will be crossed, and a new vision of expression is coming with this new era. The new album is expected to drop on Friday, March 29th and the world is utterly ready with their hats on and boots polished. There is nothing more to say besides that there simply will never be another on this earth like Beyoncé.