By Kehinde Adejumo | November 7, 2022
Photo Credit: PitchFork
Beyoncé is back at it again with her seventh solo studio album “RENAISSANCE.” Created during the height of the pandemic, “RENAISSANCE” celebrates themes of freedom and confidence throughout its 16 tracks. The album delves into the genres of house and dance in a way that Beyoncé has never done before. Down below I rank the songs on “RENAISSANCE” from the best to worst, but full disclosure, there are no bad songs on the album– they are all masterpieces.
From the moment “PURE/HONEY” starts, you are transported to the club swaying your hips in an effortless motion. The knocking sound that follows makes you want to nod your head while voguing. There is an underlying sensuality in the song, through lines like “it should cost a billion to look this good.” Beyoncé knows she’s untouchable. In “HONEY,”we are transported to 70s nostalgia with the drum/bass beat, and horns in the background that give the energy of being at the disco while simultaneously being in church. Everything becomes an event through the stomps in the background. “PURE/HONEY” makes everything a moment, and that is what makes it the best on the album.
2. “VIRGO’S GROOVE”
As soon as the beat hits, the listener is transported to an 80s rave. It’s clear that Beyoncé wants more time with her partner and is trying to sneak in some romance. “VIRGO’S GROOVE” is over six minutes long in total, all of it pure excellence. Lyrics like “I need more you and me and me on you, oh” make this song playful and carefree. You’re dancing in a 2-step on the stage when you hear “VIRGO’S GROOVE.” Beyoncé has a way of keeping this song fresh with the upbeat handclaps and ad-libs. I would say the line “You’re the love of my life” exemplifies this song perfectly. It’s sexy yet soft.
3. “ALIEN SUPERSTAR”
“ALIEN SUPERSTAR” starts out with a robotic voice. Beyoncé paints the scene for us: she’s in the VIP section in the club, drinking the most expensive champagne, and portrays herself as “one-of-one” and that no one is like her. The way she says “unique” shows you that she sees her lover unlike anyone she has ever met before. She only reserves her love for that one person, and in them has always imagined something higher than what she had before. I have truly never heard a song like “ALIEN SUPERSTAR.” The electronic chords, thunder in the background, and her buttery vocals makes me feel like I am at a fashion show or watching a James Bond movie.
4. “CUFF IT”
“CUFF IT” makes you want to dance on the sidewalk smiling. Lyrics like “Have you ever had fun like this?” makes the song very upbeat. It’s clear Beyoncé is on an adventure for the night. The rhythmic guitar makes the song feel like a 90s mall skating rink, in the best way possible. “CUFF IT” is very romantic but sensual with the “la la la” background vocals. This is the song you play before you and your crew go out. This is my personal favorite song on the album, because you just can’t help but smile when listening to it.
“COZY” makes me want to shake my hips and nod my head from side to side. Throughout the song, Beyoncé is describing someone who has been through a lot but is still a trailblazer. They hate her because she is comfortable in her skin. The line “I’m dark brown, dark skin, light skin, beige” shows the listener how black is beautiful. The only major critique of this song is that it is too short.
6. “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM”
Imagine you are traveling through a tunnel and spacey music comes on. That’s how the beginning of “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” feels. Curving your body side to side, this is a song that makes you feel effortlessly cool. Beyoncé knows she's being eyed and she likes it. Lyrics like “Love don’t get no higher than this” makes you feel like you are in a higher place. This is a song you put on when you are feeling untouchable. “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” is addicting and it’s hard not to dance to it.
7. “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA”
“PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” talks about more of the intimate parts of loving someone. It is slower than other songs on the album, and Beyoncé discusses the little things she knows about her partner. She wants all of him, even the bad parts. It’s just the two of them and they don’t need anyone else. It’s deeply personal with lyrics like “the face you make when I tell you that I have to leave.” All the three-part harmonies and runs make this song magical, and feel like a fever dream with the “I like it” background vocals. Plus, the transition to “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” is outstanding.
“HEATED” starts off with a festival vibe, of people dancing everywhere in a hot and crowded space. In this song Beyoncé is the “it girl.” People are trying to test her patience and she is getting “heated”. She is older and people can’t get to her as easily as they once did. She describes her body as a prize to be won as the song explores the theme of empowerment through the line “ten, ten, ten across the board.” She is definitely feeling herself here. “HEATED” is definitely one of my favorites because it makes you feel like you can’t be bothered.
9. “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND”
The beginning of “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND” is very haunting, as if you are in the woods. The song portrays an obsession with a romantic interest where the girl will do anything for him. The background vocals for the line “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND” is what gives the song an extra edge. The depths of this girl’s love for this guy show in the lyric “I’ll go and do the time if it means I’ll make you mine.” “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND” is a song that people with an all-consuming crush can relate to.
10. “BREAK MY SOUL”
When “BREAK MY SOUL” hits, you have to get up and dance. This is not a sit-down song. Beyoncé is back, and she lets us know literally and figuratively through the lyric “Bey is back and I’m sleeping real good at night.” In “BREAK MY SOUL,” Beyoncé needs new passion in her life and major changes. It’s an expression of passion and pain, and feels like a song you can play in church because of its sense of high energy. This is what you play after a long day of work or any time you need motivation.
If you are a fast walker, “MOVE” is for you. Slow walkers, you have been warned. Beyoncé makes it known that she is important, and that you better move out of her way. She is with her crew, and they own the night. “MOVE” makes you feel like you're on the dance floor and the professionals just walked in to show you up. It’s very in your face with lyrics like “stampede coming through.” This is definitely a song you play when you’re feeling untouchable.
“THIQUE” comes on and suddenly we are transported to getting ready for a big night on the town. She’s pushing the listener to go harder in their lives with the stuff they do. “THIQUE” talks about body positivity through the line “Girl look at your body.” The song paints a picture of the summer, meeting people we have a romantic interest in and getting out of college. The transition to the haunting song “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND” is sonically beautiful.
“ENERGY” starts off with a chill vibe. This is a song you listen to in your living room when you want to have high “energy.” When Bey and her crew pop out, in her words "everybody on mute.” “ENERGY” makes you want to shake your hips with the line “Froze from page Vogue, no pose” transforming the song into a photoshoot atmosphere where your friends are in the corner hyping you up. It’s a song you would blast in your car hanging out with the girls. Also, the line “Cause them Karens just turned into terrorists” is pure lyrical genius.
14. “I’M THAT GIRL”
“I’M THAT GIRL” lets you know that you’re the one everyone wants to be. Bey tells us she doesn't need material things. She just is “that girl.” It’s an effortless, angelic vibe that the song gives off with the lyric “Everything next to me gets lit up too.” However, Beyoncé is claiming she didn’t want to have the power of being the “it girl,” but she’s still the one people check for. The one thing that makes her real is her need for love. “I’M THAT GIRL” is a song you listen to when you want to tap into your inner power. It’s an alter ego you want to come to the surface. This is definitely a good wake-up morning song to start your day.
15. “CHURCH GIRL”
“CHURCH GIRL” feels holy even though it would not be played in a church. It has an uplifting feeling to it with the lyric “No one can judge me but me.” You’re letting go of all your past struggles and dancing through the pain. I imagine this being played at a garden party where everyone is dropping it like it’s hot and people are twerking in the corner. “CHURCH GIRL” is a rebirth.
16. “SUMMER RENAISSANCE”
“SUMMER RENAISSANCE” is the only way to end an album. Beyoncé plays a gender role reversal as the boss lady with lines “Make you take my name” and “ tat’ ya ring.” She knows the power she can have on this man. I would say this is the kind of song where you and your crush are in the same room. You look at them and think about all the things you want to do but won’t say out loud. However, it’s really the second half of “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” that hits. It feels like a fashion show with the lyrics “Versace, Bottega, Prada, Balenciaga.” Then the end of the song makes you feel rich. She knows she is “in her bag.”
Ranking of the album: 12/10
This album is a rebirth. It is called RENAISSANCE after all. Who you are before listening to this album is not who you are afterwards. It changes the way you see the world. You are more confident. You walk a little lighter with more joy in your step. This album elevates everything; it makes life an event. Everything is now a moment, thanks to RENAISSANCE. Beyoncé represents themes of femininity and sexuality in this album. It’s true what they say: No one can do it quite like Queen Bey.