There's a Timely Mental Health Message in Beyoncé's New Summer Smash
Hey, queen. Girl, you have done it again — constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly.
Me? Write a Beyoncé story without starting it with that famous Michelle Obama line? Come on now. You had to see that coming.
ICYMI, Beyoncé just released the song of the summer that my neighbors will inevitably hate because I can’t stop playing it.
The upcoming album, newly dubbed “Renaissance,” seems to be a reference to how we’re moving into a renaissance of sorts, inspired by the continued years of being plagued by a global pandemic, amongst all the other worldwide issues we’re dealing with and living through. It makes sense that this album will be primarily a dance record with pulsing beats all around.
Let’s break down the importance of these lyrics, and the mental health and wellness messages we can pull from them.
“Now, I just fell in love
And I just quit my job
I’m gonna find new drive
Damn, they work me so damn hard
Work by nine
Then off past five
And they work my nerves
That’s why I cannot sleep at night”
The first verse starts off with her setting the scene. She has this new love that fills her up, but everything around her drains her. Dramatically. To say that she’s worked hard is an understatement, but her job is continually asking for more as if she hasn’t done anything at all. The job, unlike the love, is full of nothing but pain, stress, and anguish to the extent that she’s losing sleep which is a legitimate sign of chronic stress and burn out.
Sidenote: I love this fantasy world where Beyoncé works a nine to five. Could you imagine being on Zoom casually with her and hearing Blue, Rumi, and Sir in the background? Do you think Jay randomly shouts “HOV” when walking around? I wonder if they have pets.
Anyways… into the pre-chorus!
“I’m lookin’ for motivation
I’m lookin’ for a new foundation, yeah
And I’m on that new vibration
I’m buildin’ my own foundation, yeah
Hold up, oh, baby, baby”
She’s looking for something new. Something to fill her cup. Something that makes this dismal, annoying, capitalistic life worth it. On top of looking, she’s actually putting in the work and building up this new life brick-by-foundational-brick.
After the chorus of “You won’t break my soul,” we hear Big Freedia project:
“Release ya anger, release ya mind
Release ya job, release the time
Release ya trade, release the stress
Release the love, forget the rest”
Do you think I could just send this chorus to my manager in an email saying, “Hey sorry, I can’t work here anymore. Big Freedia and Beyoncé said I need to ‘release my job’ and what she says goes,” or am I taking these lyrics too literally?*
*For legal reasons that was a joke. Please don’t take me seriously. I like it here I promise.
The idea of releasing it all is so refreshing. It’s not saying, “Get through it cause you’re strong.” Instead, it’s campaigning to release what doesn’t serve us. Screw being “strong” and “resilient.” Walk away. This fresh breath of positive nihilism is freeing. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but we don’t have to fight or hold on. We can release it.
The second verse is full of partying and dance type lyrics that remind me of keke-ing with all my friends at the bars downtown, so I’m going to jump to the third verse.
“If you don’t seek it, you won’t see it
That, we all know (Can’t break my soul)
If you don’t think it, you won’t be it
That love ain’t yours (Can’t break my soul)
Tryin’ to fake it, never makes it
That, we all know (Can’t break my soul)
You can have the stress and not take less
I’ll justify love
We go round in circles, round in circles
Searchin’ for love (Round in circles)
We go up and down, lost and found
Searchin’ for love
Looking for something that lives inside me
Looking for something that lives inside me.”
What do I even say about this? Besides damn.
I swear it’s like she was looking in my diary when she was writing these lyrics.
What I love about this verse is how it feels as if she’s putting power back into our hands.
In today’s world, there are so many things out of our control. Rent and gas prices are basically mortgages, the economy is unstable, COVID-19 is tap dancing through people’s immune systems wreaking havoc, there are a few global conflicts continually happening, and we’re expected to just continue on as if nothing is wrong. We are made to keep pushing and working as if everything is right in the world when it’s not.
I’ve written before about how we shouldn’t feel bad for choosing and chasing joy in times of crisis, and I think she embodies that in these lyrics — how joy is a right that we are all entitled to even when shit hits the fan. Our thoughts can get dangerously cyclical when it comes to the state of the world, and that’s no good for our mental health.
She’s not ignoring that in this song. She’s saying control what you can, release what doesn’t serve you, and never forget to keep fighting for your joy and your love. This song is a beacon of light for anyone who needs it where we can vibe out, dance, and sing the frustration of our life away. Work can suck. Relationships can be hard. Finances can be a chore to put it lightly, but no matter what happens they (whether it’s the government, our abusers, our bosses, etc.,) can’t break our soul. No matter who they are, they can’t do that. Our soul is ours and no one else’s, and my pretend cousin Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter wanted to remind us of that.
Some of the best most influential works of art came after the darkest periods of history. Who knows if we’re actually there now, but this song gives me hope that maybe we could be and that maybe brighter days are just around the corner. I’m willing to wait for them, and in the meantime when things feel overwhelming, I just have to remember they can’t break my soul.
Lead image courtesy of Beyoncé’s YouTube channel