Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” Is Exhilarating | Big Indy News
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Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” Is Exhilarating



Zia: I’m not really a nightclub kind of gal, but I would roll up to one in a cute dress and some chunky heels just to dance to Renaissance. Beyoncé’s albums have a way of beautifully capturing the zeitgeist in which they are released, and this one is right on the money. The world has had a very hard two, three years for a number of reasons, and we needed a collective reason to just let go and be free, even if only for just an hour and two minutes. You can hear the amount of work and attention to detail she put into this, and it makes me even more hype for the next two parts of this project.

Alexa: Estelle encapsulates it best: What an exhilarating and full-bodied album. It sounds corny to say, but it really does sound like Beyoncé herself had a blast making this record, and it’s a gorgeous, celebratory departure from the ultra-masterful but heavy message of Lemonade. I’m looking forward to listening to this album as I cake myself in eyeliner ahead of a night out with friends, already sweaty from summer humidity and pleasantly nauseous from an Aperol spritz I drank two hours prior.

Also, sorry to bring Drake’s name into the chat, but while listening to this album I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Renaissance and Honestly, Nevermind. Both albums move the two artists into a more house-inspired direction. Both are made by industry powerhouses who’ve dominated music history for so long that they no longer have anything to prove to anyone. But one of them used that creative freedom to let loose and create a glowy, innovative new style, and one of them made the song “Texts Go Green.”

Haha, Alexa. What are your initial favorite songs?

Estelle: I first listened to this in full without looking at the tracklist, and the sequencing is so seamless it’s initially difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins — which is to say, I really freaking love the whole thing. The sequencing is perfection. Must throw in a word for “Church Girl,” which feels like throwback Destiny’s Child pop cheekiness. Plus, it’s representation for horny youths who think about boning during Mass.

I love it when Beyoncé goes somewhere unexpected, so when I got to the “All Up in Your Mind” / “America Has a Problem” / “Pure/Honey” run I lost my mind. The A.G. Cook internet pop of it all, the farty, grinding bass — I wanted to be in the club immediately. I also loved seeing her step away from simplistic political messaging. I actually have a huge soft spot for songs like “Run the World” and “Flawless,” but instead of generically inspiring lyrics in this shitty global moment, we have a song called “America Has a Problem,” and the first line is “Heard you got that D for me” … Pulitzer!!!!!!!!

Amber: “Alien Superstar” was the first that made me be like, OK, Ms. Knowles-Carter, new sound unlocked! It feels like three songs in one; we’re vogueing at a ballroom competition, we’re at Kanye’s proposal to Kim Kardashian with a 50-piece orchestra playing Lana del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” and we’re soaring through space on a rocket ship to a whole other world. Then it’s straight into “Cuff It” and we’re levitating until we see stars?!? Incredible. “Heated” and “Thique” will both be on heavy rotation in my living room club. Also loved “Cozy,” I know it’s going on when I’m having a bad day and need a bit of “Comfortable in my skin / Cozy with who I am / I love myself, goddamn” energy. Will it replace the video of Beyoncé performing Love on Top while pregnant with Blue Ivy as my personal pick-me-up? TBD.

Zia: The way “Cuff It” faded into “Energy” and then into “Break My Soul”? Sensational. My soul ASCENDED. I’m already a sucker for songs that fade into each other but this was something special. At one point I didn’t even realize the song had changed because the transitions were that smooth. And given the album’s strong house vibes, it was a perfect way to pay homage to the genre.

Alexa: “Cuff It.” “CUFF IT”!!!!!!!!!

Any obvious clunkers?

Amber: “Plastic Off the Sofa.” The only thing going for this track is that it gives you a breather in between the bangers, time to sip water and get back to the dance floor.

Alexa: Gonna respectfully disagree with Amber and say that the hook on “Alien Superstar” sounds identical to that song that goes, “I’m too sexy for my shirt,” so much so that I looked up whether Beyoncé was forced to give Right Said Fred a songwriting credit. Also, I adore “Plastic Off the Sofa,” so I guess that Amber and I are simply nemeses.

Zia: “Move” didn’t do too much for me. It felt like a standard track thrown into the DJ’s mix that you step-touch in the club to. Not to say it’s a bad song, but it didn’t bring what the other songs brought.

Estelle: I respectfully decline to answer this question.

This album has a lot of guest writers, from Drake on “Heated” to Syd from the Internet on “Plastic Off the Sofa” to Jay-Z of course. Who do you think brings the most to the album here? I’d be remiss to also not mention the controversy over Beyoncé and co. sampling Kelis’s 2003 megahit “Milkshake” without Kelis’s permission on “Energy,” one of my favorite songs on the album.

Alexa: For me, the accusations by Kelis are a fascinating reminder that the Beyoncé we see and celebrate is not always the same person calling the shots in the studio about her creative work. (This, by the way, is fine! People aren’t their public images! Is your Instagram profile the realest version of yourself? Unlikely!) Beyoncé’s gone to great lengths in the past to emphasize her magnanimous relationship with her collaborators, which makes this tension with “Milkshake” feel less like an oversight on Beyoncé’s part and more like a legal decision made out of overconfidence. I’ll be interested to see how Beyoncé and her team react to these accusations, if they do at all.

Separately, I try not to acknowledge Jay-Z on principle, but I do have to say I appreciate his contributions on Renaissance as a songwriter rather than as a featured artist. After his public thrashing on Lemonade, it feels intentional that he didn’t have an opportunity to quip about how hard it is to be a husband and a father on an album clearly made for women to dance their ass off to in the club.

But I feel like the real collab stars of this album are the producers: Honey Dijon’s house and electronic fingerprints feel like they’re all over this record, and “All Up in Your Mind” doesn’t feel like it would be possible without A.G. Cook’s iconic pulsing synths. Introducing these producers into Beyoncé’s roster of collaborators pushes her sound into new, really refreshing territory.

Estelle: It’s difficult for me to think of writers as opposed to other collaborators, like the musicians she’s sampled here, because this record is so obviously in conversation with classic tracks and other genres and even an era in full. But I think Beyoncé and Big Freedia are a match made in heaven; I’m always delighted to hear the NOLA legend’s incredible voice add that bounce texture to Bey’s silky pop. Renaissance proves how great a fit The-Dream is for her in this moment — he cowrote a good chunk of these songs, and that’s part of why it just feels like such a sensual, velvety, dance floor mirage.

The controversy over the Kelis interpolation is an unfolding news story that we’ll be watching but at the very least it’s a sobering reminder of how hawkish the music industry is and how hard fought publishing rights and ownership can be.

Where do you rank this album compared to her others?

Estelle: I respectfully decline to answer this question too, except to say that I always feel like I’m in good hands with a Beyoncé solo joint. Every album changes your idea of what she’s capable of while retaining an ironclad sense of her identity and skill. Narrative, control, and progression drive her musical output, so I always trust that we’re going somewhere new. And we really did! Renaissance is so full of cool shit. I feel like I haven’t heard her do some of these things with her voice before. I feel like we haven’t heard some of these melodies or sounds or flourishes from her before.

Amber: Lemonade remains to me her opus, but this album is such a light to that shade — both in that it’s not a literal examination of her cheating husband, but also musically it seems more like she’s just searching for the sounds that get her wiggling. In so many ways this feels like the inevitable next step after The Lion King: The Gift, the 2019 soundtrack Beyoncé produced and curated, which was a group project of artists led by the queen yet was about a Disney movie. She’s still got the collective of artists, but now she’s in charge of the story.

Zia: Any ranking I give will inevitably lead to ~discourse~, so I respectfully decline to do so. But I will say that Beyoncé is at her best when she has the space to be creative, experiment, and just have fun. The fun element, I think, is the most important here. I feel like in the music industry, artists sometimes get caught up in trying to make the perfect album that checks all of these predetermined boxes and the real freedom and artistry of music gets lost in the sauce. That is not the case here. You can hear the joy and release coming off of Bey in waves and it all just works. So while I won’t rank her albums, I do think Renaissance is one of her best projects. It holds up to its predecessors and is definitely going to be in rotation for years to come.

What do you think Beyoncé was trying to accomplish with this album in particular?

Estelle: She wanted us to “release the wiggle.” Yeah, I’m wiggling. To return to her sense of purpose as an artist, it’s clear she tried to push herself while invoking the familiarity of the past — both in terms of musical history and her own aesthetic. Overall, the approach is different from Lemonade, which was such a personal album: so full of fury, with lyrics and vocals that were sometimes spotlit and intimate, and other times high-flying and showy. This feels more like a collective experience, both in how it was made and how it’s supposed to be experienced. It’s also pure escapism, highly (but not explicitly) calibrated with the devastation of our moment — sure, we had the “release your job” moment with “Break My Soul,” but Renaissance is not an attempt at social commentary. It’s relentless, undeniable vibes designed to gas your serotonin receptors.

Amber: Renaissance feels like such a reflection of the times though — we’re in year three of a horrific pandemic that has killed over 1 million people in this country alone, laws against LGBTQ people are being introduced across the country daily, and Beyoncé is like, “We need some fucking joy in here, let’s pay tribute to Black gay elders and get dancing.” — “liberated, living like we ain’t got time,” as she sings in “Heated.” I mean yes, she also wants to remind us that no one else is on her level — opening the album with “These motherfuckers ain’t stopping me” is a choice! — but it also feels like a collective call to action to find joy as an act of resistance, even if you can’t ever forget that she is the one leading it.

Alexa: I think I’m going to need to listen to this album 40 or so more times before I have a coherent answer to this question. However, I will say that in terms of Beyoncé’s branding and public image, this album feels like the final destination for yearslong buildup she’s been doing to solidify her status as an untouchable, godlike fixture in pop culture. I think back to the stretch of releases, from Beyoncé to Lemonade to Homecoming, and the gradual increase in imagery and lyrics asserting herself as not just that bitch, but the bitch. Renaissance feels like the natural next step in her openly marking her territory as the defining artist of our era.

Zia: I’ve recently been diving deep into stories about Frankie Knuckles, Loleatta Holloway, and the other pioneering singers and DJs of house back in the ’70s and ’80s. I am consistently blown away with what they were able to create back then at such a tumultuous time for Black Americans and LGBTQ people. The influences of house music can be found in so many different genres of music, so it’s fitting Beyoncé would pay respect to the foundation of what so much of her music is based upon. Plus, as the genre grew in popularity, house’s Black roots were largely forgotten and never properly attributed, and I think it’s so important that someone on her level is putting the genre back in the spotlight, this time with strong reference to its style, origin, founders, and its newest generation.

Which song do you most want to see a music video for?

Estelle: “Move.” The song is a really clear directive. I need Beyoncé to spiritually top me. There’s so little of the summer left.

Alexa: Beyoncé, do the brave thing and make a short film for “Virgo’s Groove.” Bring back the roller skates from “Blow,” add a group choreography scene involving at least 70 people, include a slow-motion shot of someone applying lipstick at an ornate Jazz Age–esque gala.

Zia: “Cuff It” for sure. As soon as I heard this song, I knew this was gonna be an instant classic. It makes me nostalgic for early 2000s pop Beyoncé but still keeps the sexy adult energy. To me, “Cuff It” is like the hot older sister to “Blow” from Beyoncé. And ever since she posted her drop-day Insta post, I am CRAVING some Donna Summer–esque disco visuals.

Amber: “Thique”! I want thick thighs on yachts.●

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Joe Sugg sends hidden message to Dianne Buswell as he spends Christmas with his family



Andrea Caamano

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell might be thousands of miles apart this Christmas, but they are still very much on each other’s minds.

Whilst the Strictly Come Dancing pro partner has been gushing about reuniting with her parents, her brothers and her nieces, and hitting the beach, Joe has returned to Somerset to spend time with friends and family.

The 31-year-old has been documenting his “wonderful trip to the shire” and couldn’t help but send girlfriend Dianne a hidden message.

VIDEO: Dianne comments on having children with boyfriend Joe

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Whilst gushing about his stay “at the amazing Court Farm”, a lovingly restored 16th Century farmhouse in Somerset, Joe sent Dianne a décor hint, revealing: “I kinda want our house to look like this!

Joe has travelled to Somerset to see family and friends

The gorgeous bedroom, as shown in a photo posted on his Instagram Stories, boasts a superking bed under a vintage chandelier, with an authentic barn door which opens onto a bathroom with both a huge walk-in shower and contemporary roll top bath.

Joe also praised the log burner, keeping him warm during his stay. “You cannot beat a good log burner this time of year,” he wrote.

The couple fell in love whilst taking part on Strictly Come Dancing

The theme would no doubt work well in Joe and Dianne’s country home in Sussex. The couple met on Strictly in 2018 and swapped their London flat for their first home together complete with a beautiful garden boasting uninterrupted country views.

Joe went on to reveal to his followers that he was visiting Lacock, a village in the county of Wiltshire.

“Forever grateful for this beautiful village where I grew up,” he said.

He then visited The Lacock Bakery and showed its gorgeous window display, which featured a copy of his book, Grow: How Nature Can Restore Balance in a Busy World.

“I used to go to this bakery as a toddler in my pushchair and now look! I left a special message in this book,” he remarked.

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A look inside ABC star David Muir’s intensely private personal life



Hannah Hargrave

ABC star David Muir has long kept fans guessing about his personal life, refusing to share details online or across social media sites like many of his colleagues. But fans do know that David is still on the market and he’s not married, although it remains unclear if he is even dating.

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In fact, as the video below explains, despite being connected to several other high profile TV personalities, there’s only one certain someone who does take up David’s time…

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Despite numerous reports of romance for the World News Tonight anchor, David has always refused to publicly address his love life, but has been vocal about a number of leading ladies who he holds dear to his heart.

Kelly Ripa is one of those special people, so much so that the Live with Kelly and Ryan star paid a heartfelt tribute to David in her book, Live Wire.

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An extract from the book – which is released on 27 September – was posted on Kelly’s Instagram Stories over the weekend, and the message is included on a page of acknowledgements.

It read: “To David Muir, you are the backbone and moral compass I need sometimes.”

Kelly and David have been close friends for years

His fellow ABC star, Amy Robach, is also a firm favorite of David’s and they have been known to spend time together both on and off-screen.

His sister, Rebecca, is close with David and he calls his many nieces and nephews his “squad,” and says he’s incredibly proud of all of them.

At home, it’s his beloved gun dog, Axel, who has his heart, as he regularly shares adorable photos with the pup, who he is clearly besotted with. 

That’s not to say he hasn’t had his fair share of marriage proposals though! Not a day goes by when he isn’t flooded with compliments from his adoring fans on social media. 

But alas, the dedicated journalist is practically married to his job, leaving little time for love!

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Al Roker sparks emotional reaction as he mourns sad loss



Jenni McKnight

Al Roker shared some sad news with fans on Thursday as he paid an emotional tribute to an influential figure in his life.

The Today star – who made a shock departure announcement this week – took to Instagram to pay his respects to legendary Jamaican-born Philadelphian producer, arranger, and songwriter Thom Bell, who sadly died aged 79, although his cause of death has not been disclosed.

WATCH: Al Roker’s health battle revealed

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Sharing a photo of Thom, Al wrote: “Legendary Philadelphia producer Thom Bell passing away at 79. His music was the soundtrack of my life.

“From The Spinners, The O’Jays, The Delfonics, The Stylistics to Elton John, he was part of that distinctive Sound Of Philadelphia. Thank you for your gift.”

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Many of Al’s followers were saddened by the news and left crying-face and praying hand emojis in the comments as well as paying their own emotional tributes to the late music star.

Al paid tribute to Thom Bell

“Such a tremendous loss of an amazing talent that was able to capture and create a sound like no other,” replied one. A second wrote: “Rest in Peace. Love the music you shared with us. Prayers for his family.”

A third shared their condolences while also wishing Al a speedy recovery, writing: “Sad news – wonderful legacy. I hope you are continuing to feel better and stronger. @todayshow is not the same without you.”

It’s been a particularly hard time for Al over the past few weeks, as not only has he been recovering after having blood clots on his lungs, but he also faced the devastating news that his sister Patricia had passed away shortly after he was discharged from hospital.

Al is recovering at home with his family

The TV star, who has been a part of Today for over 25 years, was admitted to the hospital shortly after Thanksgiving due to blood clots and remained hospitalized for over two weeks.

Al, who has taken an absence from the show ever since, gave an update to viewers from home last week. “It has been a tough slog. I’m not going to lie. It has been the hardest one yet and I’ve had my share of surgeries.

He continued: “I have a lot of things and people to be thankful for. It gives you a profound sense of gratitude for this outpouring of prayers and thanks.”

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