Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

Beyoncé – My House

Beyoncé drops too late for the Jukebox revival? Never mind, Wayne’s made sure we’re across it…


Aaron Bergstrom: It can be disorienting to remember that Beyoncé exists on the same plane of existence as the rest of us. After all, she’s the alien superstar. She’s one of one. Imagine Beyoncé eating a sandwich. It’s not like she doesn’t have influences, or contemporaries, but she’s taken great pains to create a personal aesthetic of otherworldly perfection, and to position her most recent albums as self-contained objects that arrived fully formed, the product of a singular genius. She is above us, beyond us. Then you hear the first thirty seconds of “My House” and you realize, “Oh. Right. Houston.” Beyoncé is from Houston. She comes from a lineage that is Southern, Texan, and influenced by identifiable strains of late-’90s and early-’00s hip hop. She does it better than pretty much anyone else, and by the end of the song she has transformed those fairly mainstream reference points into something that probably only she could make, but still. Real person, from Houston. Probably eats sandwiches.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: We tend to grade artists on a curve after a certain point. Beyoncé has been making hits since two months before I was born — how am I supposed to compare her to anyone aside from her? In this context “My House” is too much and not enough all at once. Beyond its literal status as an end credits song, the song still feels like a multilayered rehash — emulating not only the thrills of Renaissance but also her long tradition of tossed off, post-album cycle excursions in swag rap. “My House” is fun but in its own way slightly threadbare — it piles on boasts and hooks with an almost haphazard glee, with little regard to how these parts hold together. It’s impressive, but only to the extent that “My House” feels like Beyoncé operating at roughly 50 percent of her usual capacity. 

Alex Ostroff: A slightly less fluid version of the “Pure/Honey” trick of stitching together two disparate songs. “Pure” started off as a cunty ballroom track, then shifted into the impeccable Vanity 6 riff of “Honey” — and, importantly, Beyoncé convincingly embodied both modes perfectly. “My House” begins as aggressive rap and pivots into a minimal blippy-bloopy house track. Historically — since at least a decade ago — one would expect Bey to pull off the first half of this off more easily than the second. But after immersing herself in the sounds of Renaissance, she’s more compelling imperiously telling the audience to get the fuck up out her house over top of chanting vogue crowds and gospel choirs. The first section has promise, but I can’t help but wish the instrumental loop was a Homecoming-style marching band with a full drumline and a bunch of tubas instead of synths. Mostly, it makes me wish that Act II fulfills the promise of that “I Been On (Remix)” with Bun B, Scarface, et al. by giving us an entire chopped and screwed Houston rap album of Bey spitting fire.

Nortey Dowuona: The drum programming on this starts off frustratingly bad. If it had been done by an actual drum line before cutting the coals, it would sound good, rather than demo arrangements done to prepare for the rehearsals. The actual arrangement below the chant sounds good — it’s just so flat it can’t move, pump or jam. The mediocre choir chorus does work a cappella – it sounds full by at least four voices and ends on a warm note — and the delicious bass stab towards the back end of the song does help, but it’s already too late. This is why we rehearse, and why some songs have good ideas but don’t make the album. Would you take off “Plastic Off the Sofa” for this?

Wayne Weizhen Zhang:

  1. Alien Superstar [10]
  2. Heated [10]
  3. Pure/Honey [10]
  4. Plastic off the Sofa [9]
  5. I’m that Girl [9]
  6. Cuff It [9]
  7. Cozy [9]
  8. Virgo’s Groove [8]
  9. America Has a Problem [8]
  10. Break My Soul [8]
  11. Church Girl [8]
  12. Thique [8]
  13. Energy [8]
  14. My House [7]
  15. Move [7]
  16. All Up in Your Mind [7]
  17. Summer Renaissance [7]

*Subject to change

Katherine St Asaph: One producer Beyoncé continually re-hires is The-Dream, even as her former, once-feted collaborators disappear from her unsparingly curated house. Hey, about that, remember how he was accused of assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend last decade? But it’s not like this was enjoyable before I knew who produced it, either.

Will Adams: Basically Renaissance‘s “7/11“: a throwaway track, only mildly fun, ultimately a distraction from its otherwise exquisite parent album. That alone is enough of a disappointment from Beyoncé; in light of recent pushback, though, a lyric like “let’s heal the world, one beautiful action at a time” makes it that much more eyebrow-raising.

Taylor Alatorre: When I was young, I used to annoy my dad all the time during TV commercial breaks, asking why McDonald’s or Coca-Coca had to run advertisements when every living person on the planet already knows what they are. Of course, at the age of seven, I had no knowledge of concepts like brand perception, market share, consumer loyalty — for me the only purpose of an ad was to inform you that a product exists. However, there is something to the idea that companies often devote an excessive share of resources to marketing and PR as opposed to improving the quality of their goods and services, so maybe my seven-year-old self wasn’t completely off-base. It is in that spirit that I ask: why does Beyoncé need to release a song like this when she is Already Beyoncé?

Alfred Soto: Enough already.

Brad Shoup: She’s most believable on “get the fuck up out of my house”: she strings the vogue and Dirty South sounds together like a top-of-the-line security system. I guess anything could be a revolution if you’re the sun.

Ian Mathers: I think the thing that most surprised me about “My House” is that it doesn’t just sound like an end credits song, it sounds like a whole bunch of them. The part where the track downshifts feels just like when the credits cut from the maximalist, triumphant “credits song” that tends to get promoted as such to another track (usually by another artist, or maybe even just from the score). You can practically hear it switching to the part where each line of the credits has like four people in a row. But, crucially, it sounds like it does so for one hell of a movie.

Micha Cavaseno: Y’know, of all the nostalgia ticks for Beyoncé to hit on a recent single… I wouldn’t exactly have figured we’d get proto-crunk Atlanta Rap in the style of Hitman Sammy Sam while doing the cadence of Chuck Roberts to be something she’d go for. Transitioning it into electro-house rather than indulging in a brief detour over to Atlanta Bass is understandable, but I can’t help but that might’ve been a perfect piece de résistance. Nevertheless, it’s perfectly solid music that features Knowles really continuing to rely on dancefloor rollers instead of pop smashes or R&B storms to keep her concerts heavily anchored. She’s clearly transitioned into a touring event rather than a mainstream presence, and it makes perfect sense the more she transitions into her “mother” stage: career, personal life, Beyhive Queen analogies, the gay icon definition… whatever perception you prefer. Beyoncé is now a force to herself in the way that few pop stars are lucky to solidify themselves as, and Knowles knows that her ship runs on fuel and showcase, less on staking and striving.

David Moore: I didn’t begrudge Renaissance its world-beating rep, but at the same time there was something inaccessible to me about the project; the whole thing seemed like if you ever tried to really touch it, someone would brusquely remind you to stay behind the rope. More than any other celebrity archetype, Beyoncé reminds me of a television star of the ’90s who made the prestige move to cinema and never looked back, even as television and cinema merged into the same formless blob of Engaging Artistic Narrative Content: she’s like George Clooney or Jennifer Aniston, carrying the torch of a pop culture upward mobility that everyone says they’ve moved past even though they still treat the legacy holdouts with the reverence of a bygone era. Of course, Beyoncé’s music is usually much better than anything George Clooney or Jennifer Aniston does. (Usually.)

Oliver Maier: A microcosm of the Renaissance experience: expertly put together, more structurally inventive and surprising than the vast majority of pop music currently doing the rounds, never electrifying.

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Leave a Reply