On Tuesday, my favorite Creole and (most of) yours, Beyoncé, released her new single, “Break My Soul.”
The song, which samples the early '90s hit "Show Me Love" by Robin S and features vocals from Big Freedia, is off to a promising start. It immediately hit number one on the iTunes charts in 30 countries. The song has since debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Spotify chart with 1.99 million streams and No. 5 on the global Spotify chart with 5.145 million streams—the latter serving as the biggest debut for a solo song by a female artist in 2022. Even for Beyoncé, racking up those kinds of numbers so swiftly so many years into a career is no easy feat, especially when the single in question is over four minutes long in an era where most hits seem to barely span 45 seconds.
As someone who’s been stanning Beyoncé since the very start of her career, I am happy she is blessing us with new music that’s already being met with great fanfare.
However, I have a confession: I don’t love the song.
I know, I know: I’m never going to be sent an Ivy Park box with hoochie daddy shorts after speaking ill of the queen’s work in public. I have to live in my truth, though. Even if it gets me stung. I will figure out atonement later on.
With the first single, all I could muster was a slight shimmy and a polite smile.
It’s not that I don’t like or appreciate house music (or know it’s Black roots, social media historians). I’m gay, limber, and have held on to my Megan knees as best as any elder millennial can. I will happily spin and drop around to a good house song when the mood strikes.
It’s just that when I heard rumors of Beyoncé going back to more uptempo tunes, my mind immediately raced to B’Day. I was hoping for songs like “Kitty Kat,” “Suga Mama,” “Get Me Bodied,” or “Freakum Dress.” Even with Freedia’s inclusion, “Break My Soul” doesn’t capture that kind of energy.
Maybe some of that is on the forthcoming album, which I still eagerly anticipate.
Writing in British Vogue about the new album, titled Renaissance, Edward Enninful described it as: “Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul. As ever with Beyoncé, it is all about the intent. I sit back, after the wave, absorbing it all.”
That sounds great, but with the first single all I could muster was a slight shimmy and a polite smile.
I feel the same way about the track as I do most of Drake’s new album in that I guess it’s alright, but I really don’t feel like voguing or heading to a hotel lounge somewhere in Tulum to fully take it in.
If I had to choose between the two, obviously Beyoncé’s single is superior. As much as I’ve enjoyed Drake over the years, there comes a point where a person has to accept that unless they take a couple of vocal lessons, bars are better for their records than belting. That said, while Beyoncé can never sound bad, the song reminds me that more often than not, Beyoncé does better covers when she performs them live. That’s when you hear more of the depth and grit in her voice.
She sounds fine on “Break My Soul,” but “Show Me Love” is such a gorgeously sung song that one hoped Bey would make her generation’s answer to it, which I’m not sure this is.
Robin S. herself is quite happy that Beyoncé sampled the track, however. Robin recently spoke with Good Morning Britain about the sample, saying, “Thank you so much for giving me my flowers while I’m still alive. I’m honored and excited to see what else can happen.” She’s also revealed that her team has received non-stop inquiries about licensing her “Show Me Love” master recordings for various purposes following the release of “Break My Soul.”
I’m sure those inquiries will only rise now that the song is being celebrated as a “great resignation anthem.” About that: I love my lord and gyrator, and I like the idea of her speaking for the masses, but I never understand grand proclamations like those. And Beyoncé, as hard a worker as she is, grew up with money, was rich as a teenager, and married someone else rich. Y'all better be careful taking the advice of the one percent in these times of inflation and looming recession (but fuck that job…I get it).
Of course, this is all just my opinion and it’s okay to recognize that something not being for you doesn’t mean it isn’t any good at all.
Most of the people I know align with Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s opinion of the track, which she tweeted: “Queen @Beyonce, you’ve done it again! ‘Break My Soul’ is the song we all need right now, and I can't help but dance and sing along while listening to it. Can’t wait for the album!”
On that same platform, I noticed a lot of people turned into Mister from The Color Purple and started calling folks essentially poor, Black, and ugly for not appreciating what the most famous Houstonian and fake Houstonian have each offered the masses. You can say whatever you want, but my adoration for my lord and gyrator will never waver.
I’ll admit that if nothing else, the hook hasn’t left my head since I heard the song. Maybe it will grow on me. Maybe she will put a root on me and force my hand.
As an original BeyHive member, I’m going to chalk this up to this single for me being more like “If I Were A Boy” and “Run The World (Girls)” than “Crazy In Love.” I’m sure the album will give me everything I need; the first offering just may be better suited for some more than others.
Still, I’m happy most people are happy about the song given these are miserable times and sometimes all you can do is dance it off to what you think is the best song.
Hopefully the next one is mine.