After a career spent nearly breaking the internet accidentally with her new releases, Beyoncé finally decided to try and do it intentionally... or at least that's the way it seemed during Super Bowl LVIII.
It started with an ad for Verizon 5G, one which featured Tony Hale of Arrested Development and Veep fame kiddingly saying to Beyoncé, “I’ll bet you can’t break that,” to which she responds in the only way you knew she ever would: “Bet I can!”
Cue a flurry of events by Beyoncé designed to break the internet: starting a lemonade stand; issuing a sax-driven instrumental jazz album entitled Let’s Get Saxy under the name yoncéB; creating an artificial version of herself called Beyonc-AI; releasing a suspiciously Barbie-esque movie called BarBey; kicking off her campaign for Beyoncé of the United States; and becoming the first woman to launch the first rocket for the first performance in space.
None of it works.
At this point, Beyoncé all but growls, “Ugh, you ain’t gonna break me,” and the commercial ends with the rocket hurtling away as we hear her say via voiceover, “Okay, they ready. Drop the new music!”
Which brings us to "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages," the two new Beyoncé songs that dropped before Super Bowl LVIII had even finished.
The songs in question confirm that, indeed, the renaissance is not over: they’re teasers for Beyoncé’s new album, Renaissance: Act II, which is set for release on March 29. They also find her delving into country music in a big way, which is something that had been rumored for some time, and she’s not afraid to throw a bit of twang into her vocals. (Not that it’s probably that big a stretch, given her Houston roots.)
As recently as last week, Newsweek ran an article entitled "Beyoncé May Be Transitioning to Country Music," which provided a timeline dating back to 2016 that provided a myriad of reasons which explained the viability of such a project coming to pass.
"Beyoncé was interested in country; I think she had had a really bad experience at a country music award show, and she wanted to research its African-American roots," Renaissance tour stage designer Es Devlin said in the article. "She discovered that 50 percent of cowboys were black, in the 19th and early 20th century, and country music, of course, has been largely appropriated. She wanted to reappropriate American and country music from a Black perspective, hence the cowboys and why they are wearing red. They are her eliding those two ideas of redlining in those towns and the cowboys."
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Aside from the fact that both of the new tracks feature contributions from producer Raphael Saadiq, precious little is known about Renaissance: Act II beyond the obvious country influence on the material, but it's doubtlessly only a matter of time before further details emerge...provided, of course, that Beyoncé did not, in fact, break the internet with the release of these two songs.
(Spoiler alert: if you're reading this, she apparently didn't.)