Beyoncé’s new single “Break My Soul” from her upcoming album, “Renaissance,” is a dance hall banger that makes you want to get up and move. The single was the biggest debut for a solo single by a female artist in 2022.
But there’s more to this track than meets the eye – its production borrows heavily from house music.
House music is a genre that first developed in the 1980s in Chicago before spreading to other cities in the United States. She became popular in underground clubs and distinguished herself with her electronic and up-tempo beats. House music also has more region-specific subgenres, such as Detroit techno music and Jersey sound. More importantly, it’s a central part of black queer culture and Beyoncé’s new version brings it to the mainstream.
House has already seen mainstream success, but that’s mostly come from European transplants: DJs like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia. It is extremely rare for American house music to produce a mainstream hit. C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”, which reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991, is one such example.
What makes Beyoncé’s new hit so different from previous house music crossovers or house-inspired hits is that she so openly and unapologetically acknowledges the queer influence on house music and stays true to the roots of like, kind of a recovery of white DJs who like to make oontz oontz beats.
The track features black queer idol Big Freedia, a bouncy music pioneer who previously featured on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” in 2016. Beyoncé lyrically and creatively brings house music in its purest form to the mainstream. mainstream music industry.
By sampling Robin S.’s “Show Me Love” and using Big Freedia’s vocals, Beyoncé isn’t giving us a watered-down, more marketable version of house music — she’s doing it defiantly, without giving in to the pressure. She gives us a purely creative disc and not on the sale of units or on virality.
Other artists have achieved success by focusing on house music. Controversial Azealia Banks is widely credited with bringing more attention to the genre after her critically acclaimed hit “212” in 2011. However, her social media antics and penchant for stepping up with other celebrities have prevented wider acceptance of the genre.
The driving beat of house music with its musical stings and electronic sounds made it popular in clubs, but less successful on the radio. But after an unprecedented global pandemic has prevented many from hitting the clubs like they once did, the new era of house music may be hitting the radio as people try to replicate that exhilarating rush of the underground club scene. in their own home.
Beyoncé isn’t the only artist experimenting with house music. Drake’s surprise album “Honestly, Nevermind,” which he released on June 17, is also heavily influenced by the genre.
But the album failed to match the success of his previous projects with only three songs debuting in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 (“Certified Lover Boy” had nine). Not only was the release itself unexpected, but the content itself was a surprising departure from a traditionally single-genre artist.
While the album itself isn’t bad, it’s hard to figure out who the audience is. His mainstream fans enjoy his singing/rapping hip hop he’s known for and house music fans probably won’t put Drake on their list of top house music artists.
And further, by relying on the same producers he’s always had and not including any hallmarks of queer or house artists, Drake’s foray into house music comes across as dishonest.
House music is undeniably on the rise right now. This new focus on house music also comes at a time when its conventions are perhaps more popular than ever. Quick bursts of dancing sounds are perfect for TikTok, an app that seems to make or break projects.
Drake and Beyoncé’s use of stylistic markers of house music moves her into the mainstream, making it the sound of this summer.
Colin Crawford is a sophomore at Medill. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to publicly respond to this editorial, send a letter to the editor at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all Daily Northwestern staff.