Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Beyoncé – Break My Soul

Us? Break?


Aaron Bergstrom: I wrote a whole thing about stan culture fatigue and the awkward politicisation of pop music by the terminally online, let it sit overnight, then went back and deleted it. Now is not the time or the place for that, and I am not the person. Find joy where you can. This rules.

Edward Okulicz: Great sound, but there’s a reason your list of huge hits with those ingredients tops out at two (“Show Me Love” itself, plus Livin’ Joy’s “Dreamer”) — you also need a great song on top. It’s not for want of other great ingredients here too — Beyonce is using her voice in a really interesting way here and Big Freedia is used so smartly here too — she’s a sound effect that has no use greater than exhorting you to move and feel great. But the actual song on top has no weight or strength. I bet a hypothetical second try at this would be incredible, but Beyonce is a flawless goddess, so there would never be one.

Nortey Dowuona: Every Beyonce song is good by dint of her singing on it in any capacity. The only problem is if the groove, (apparently added under Robin S’s largely willing but unknowing nose) lets her down, which it lowkey does since it clings very heavily to the neat 2 note melody as it sinks to the bottom and the thumbed kick, barely carried by the Big Freedia vocals and the weak piano stabs settle upon the ocean floor, next to Beyonce’s sweetly sung echoes and the way too settled in the trench choir, who first appear when the song finally launches into a low baseline wave up into a soft serve synth cloud and makes it rise – then drops back down into the 2 note melody, and drops the choir too far into the trench – too scared of letting them overwhelm Queen Bey? That ain’t outsiyde.

Andrew Karpan: Salvation for those who want it, I kept getting tied up in the two different takeaways from “Break My Soul.” The studied, respectful appropriation of “Show Me Love” details out the pure kind of yearning that animated the original, which had somehow both persisted and was augmented by its later eurohouse trappings. Even on the dance floor, the club or your living room, there was a collective wanting for love, the song seemed to say, an echo that reverberated like the beating of a heart. It was not surprising that Beyoncé would largely throw this out, a diligent rejection of vulnerability sometimes seems to be at the very center of the lasting appeal of the Destiny’s Child singer, who has used this austerity to become a timeless totem of popular culture. Sometimes, it’s best to think of everything as a job, if only to better appreciate the joy of getting paid.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Did you know that Beyoncé has problems, too? Apparently–and there hasn’t been a lyric in recent memory that quite captures the problematic zeitgeist like “Now I just fell in love/And I just quit my job/I’m gonna find new drive/Damn they work me so damn hard”? Regardless of what you think of the Beyoncé industrial complex co-opting the language of labor, “Break My Soul” is undeniable in it’s soulful effectiveness. The Robin S sample hits as hard as the Charli XCX track, but whereas Charli cheekily flipped the original’s theme of longing in favor of rejection, Beyoncé builds upon the motif with the help of Big Freedia. Robin S’s cry that “If you’re looking for devotion, talk to me” has been turned into an anthem about self-devotion that works in a personal, political, and self-referential level. (There had to be a million working titles: “Release Your Anger,” “Release Ya Job,” “Own Foundation,” “New Salvation,” or “Motivation”). “Break My Soul” takes itself seriously, but also has enough sense of humor and levity to have Beyoncé say something like “Queens in the front/Doms in the back.” This is what house music catharsis sounds like in 2022.

Thomas Inskeep: Beyoncé, you’re married to Jay-Z, hip hop’s first billionaire; don’t try to sell me on “I just quit my job.” Between that, the Big Freedia samples, the Robin S interpolation, and the “queens in front/doms in the back” lyric (what?), this feels like the definition of pandering, mostly to the queer community; the fact that this came out during Pride Month doesn’t help matters. And before you even think of telling me that Bey has brought dance music back or some such bullshit – just don’t. I expect so much better from her.

Alfred Soto: As a myth-busting gesture and maybe even a dance track, it works (I have not danced to it because Miami clubs = COVID). She can hire the best beat makers in the biz yet she releases a track that wouldn’t have gotten white label treatment in 1996, let alone a Junior Vasquez remix. Fine, though. Diminished expectations often work.

Reader average: [4.85] (7 votes)

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One Response to “Beyoncé – Break My Soul”

  1. Not bad, but unconvincing, which is something that just puts me off in my judgement, as unreliable as it is. My guess is that it’s on the way cleanness gets mistaken for mechanicalness, either when Beyoncé needs to eat her bread by the sweat of her brow in her attempt to carry on the house ethos, or when the neat production ponctuates it all with piano, synths and beats that sound skeletal, but never threatening enough.