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Six years after 'Lemonade,' 'RENAISSANCE' rebirths Beyoncé's status as Queen Bey

Beyoncé's comeback with “RENAISSANCE” proves she's one of pop's greatest forces and greatest talents.  – Photo by BEYONCÉ / Twitter

At the end of July, Beyoncé dropped her highly anticipated seventh studio album “RENAISSANCE,” and the world is still recovering.

This album comes six years after her critically acclaimed, award-winning album “Lemonade,” which changed the landscape of the music industry and has been named No. 32 on a list of the best albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

"RENAISSANCE" marks Beyoncé’s newest critical and commercial success, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart, marking the biggest debut by a woman this year. The album has also received critical acclaim, earning a Metacritic score of 91.

All of the praise and acclaim is warranted — this album is nearly perfect. Beyoncé generally never misses when it comes to music releases, and she definitely delivered on this one.

The album channels an array of genres such as house, disco, R&B and pop, often referencing the histories of these genres and paying homage to the trailblazers who popularized them. The production of the album as a whole is reminiscent of a DJ set as every track transitions from one to the next flawlessly.

While every track on “RENAISSANCE” deserves praise, there are a few absolutely phenomenal standout tracks that completely transcend the depth and longevity of the album.

The first attention-grabbing track on the album is “ALIEN SUPERSTAR.” This song sounds completely different from anything Beyoncé has ever released, and it has quickly become one of my favorite songs by her. 

The song begins with a fast pumping beat and a slightly jarring vocal sample, but it creates the perfect introduction to the vibe of the track. Throughout the song, multiple references are made to the ballroom scene of the late 20th century, paying homage to the Black and Latino queer and transgender youth who created and pioneered the movement.

“ALIEN SUPERSTAR” also interpolates the chorus of Right Said Fred’s late ‘90s hit “I’m Too Sexy.” With lyrics such as “I'm too classy for this world, forever, I'm that girl,” Beyoncé is reminding us all that she is a music and pop culture icon.

Transitioning from house to afrobeat, “ENERGY” featuring Jamaican American rapper BEAM offers a fresh vibe while still maintaining the organized chaos of the album's previous tracks.

While some of the production can also sound somewhat jarring on "ENERGY" upon first listen, it works so well in the context of the song and the album as a whole. BEAM’s vocals in the chorus are simple yet effective and create an addictive feel to the melody of the track.

The album’s lead single “BREAK MY SOUL” is an honorable mention in this body of work. On its own, I was less than impressed in comparison to Beyoncé’s past singles, but it works flawlessly within the context of the whole album.

“CUFF IT” is also a phenomenal honorable mention, and is a part of my most frequently played rotation on “RENAISSANCE.” It offers powerful vocals and a gorgeously concocted disco instrumentation that is slightly addictive.

Even though "RENAISSANCE" is strong as a whole, I believe the two strongest songs on this project are “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” and “VIRGO’S GROOVE,” located back to back on the album’s tracklist.

“PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” delivers a beautifully calming R&B groove, thanks to its funky bass line and lovingly erotic lyrical content. This song paints a gorgeous picture of the raw and authentic emotions that come with being deeply in love with your partner, and I absolutely love it.

There’s nothing better than the vibes that come along with listening to “VIRGO’S GROOVE.” The track has elements of disco, R&B and funk, all of which play together phenomenally. The song features a simple yet effective melody, extremely catchy chorus, a fun call and response type production throughout the chorus.

“VIRGO’S GROOVE” is enticingly addictive and has become one of my absolute favorite songs in Beyoncé’s discography.

While “RENAISSANCE” has some songs that beat a little too far off the path for my liking, it overall is a really cohesive and immersive listening experience. While I prefer other albums from Beyoncé’s discography, such as “Lemonade,” this album contains a multitude of phenomenal works that will continue to grace my future playlists for years to come.

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