Renaissance (Beyoncé album)

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Renaissance
Beyoncé in a spiky silver metal body suit sits on top of a silver disco ball horse
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 29, 2022
Recorded2020–2021
Studio
Genre
Length62:14
LanguageEnglish
Label
Producer
Beyoncé chronology
The Lion King: The Gift
(2019)
Renaissance
(2022)
Cowboy Carter
(2024)
Alternative cover
For select vinyl releases, the artwork features Luca Giordano's 1690 painting La Conversion de Saint Paul behind Beyoncé atop a disco ball horse.[1][2]
For select vinyl releases, the artwork features Luca Giordano's 1690 painting La Conversion de Saint Paul behind Beyoncé atop a disco ball horse.[1][2]
Singles from Renaissance
  1. "Break My Soul"
    Released: June 20, 2022
  2. "Cuff It"
    Released: September 30, 2022
  3. "America Has a Problem"
    Released: May 19, 2023
  4. "Virgo's Groove"
    Released: June 2, 2023

Renaissance (also referred to as Act I: Renaissance) is the seventh studio album by American singer and songwriter Beyoncé. It was released on July 29, 2022, by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. Her first solo studio release since Lemonade (2016) and the first installment of her trilogy project, Beyoncé wrote and produced the album with Nova Wav, The-Dream, Symbolyc One, A. G. Cook, Honey Dijon, Beam, Tricky Stewart, BloodPop, Skrillex, Hit-Boy, No I.D., P2J and various other collaborators. Beam, Grace Jones and Tems appear as guest vocalists.

Beyoncé conceived and recorded Renaissance during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking to inspire joy and escapism in listeners who had experienced isolation and to celebrate a club era in which marginalized people sought liberation through dance music. With its songs seamlessly arranged like a DJ mix, the album blends post-1970s Black dance music styles such as disco and house and pays homage to the Black and queer pioneers of those genres. The album's lyrical content explores themes of escapism, hedonism, self-assurance and self-expression.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, Beyoncé's seventh consecutive album to do so, and is certified platinum. It also reached number one in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The platinum-certified lead single "Break My Soul" was released on June 20, 2022, and reached number one on several charts worldwide, including the US Billboard Hot 100. The album's second single "Cuff It" peaked in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and internationally.

The album received universal acclaim from music critics for its eclectic yet cohesive sound, joyous mood, and Beyoncé's vocal performance. It became the best-rated album of 2022, named the best album of the year by publications such as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone, which would later place the record at number 71 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.[3] Renaissance and its songs garnered nine nominations at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year) and won four awards, including Best Dance/Electronic Album, making Beyoncé the most awarded artist in the Grammy Awards history. In promotion of the album, Beyoncé embarked on the Renaissance World Tour, and released an accompanying documentary concert film. The second installment of the trilogy, Cowboy Carter, was released on March 29, 2024.

Background and conception[edit]

Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom.

— Beyoncé on Renaissance[4]

In the latter half of the 2010s, Beyoncé released several critically acclaimed, narrative-driven[5] projects that explored the legacies of Black musicians and artists,[6] including 2016's Lemonade; her 2018 Coachella performance and the Netflix film and live album that documented it; and 2019's The Lion King soundtrack album The Gift and its visual companion, 2020's Black Is King.[7]

Beyoncé told British Vogue that the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic changed her as a person, stating that she has "spent a lot of time focusing on building my legacy and representing my culture the best way I know how. Now, I've decided to give myself permission to focus on my joy."[8] Further, she called this period the most creative time in her life as she sought to escape feelings of isolation by recording new music.[4] As lockdowns began to end, Beyoncé told Harper's Bazaar that "we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again. I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible."[9]

Beyoncé sought inspiration in post-1970s Black ball culture, dance music and club culture.[10] Beyoncé noted that she was largely introduced to this culture by her "Uncle" Jonny, her gay cousin[a] who helped raise her until his death during the AIDS epidemic.[12][13][14] Further, she wanted the album to be a celebration of the underappreciated pioneers of dance music, whose contributions had been unrecognized in the mainstream.[15]

I had no idea what type of genre I would end up singing for [Renaissance], but I tried to stay open and open my palette and discover aspects of myself or create something new. [...] I always wanted to make a record that I could work out to [..] It's a little bit over an hour and it's exactly that. It just makes you wanna move, it makes you wanna dance, it makes you laugh, it makes you wanna fall in love and it makes you wanna be with your man or your woman, it makes you just wanna have some joy and have some fun and that’s really all I wanted to do. I felt like that was my mission and that was my assignment. I was inspired by so many incredible artists, I knew if I was gonna do an album that had Dance music elements, l would have to make it my own and mix a few things together, so I think it has elements of Disco, Techno, Electronic and Soul and still some elements of Hip hop. I wanted to give myself permission to just have fun, that’s the goal. Because I definitely had fun recording it.

— Beyoncé in pre-recorded audio speech at 'Club Renaissance' 2022 party.[16]

Renaissance was heavily influenced by Studio 54.[17] Beyoncé wanted to challenge listeners with songs of longer length, bridges, vamps and melody in a musical landscape where it was lacking.[16] "Thique" was originally made in 2014, but did not fully materialize until 8 years later on the album.[18]

Cover artwork[edit]

The cover art has been compared to Lady Godiva, an 1898 painting by British artist John Collier.

On June 30, 2022, Beyoncé revealed the album's cover art, shot by fashion photographer Carlijn Jacobs, on her social media accounts. In the image, she is seated atop a mirrored disco ball horse[19][20] (dubbed "Reneigh" by fans[21][22][23]) in a 3D printed silver bodysuit designed by Nusi Quero.[24] The piece is helix-shaped, detailed with spikes and embellished with crystals.[25] Critics interpreted the equestrian pose as an allusion both to John Collier's 1897 painting Lady Godiva and to photographs of Bianca Jagger riding a horse into Studio 54.[26][27]

An alternate cover image for the vinyl release features Beyoncé atop the same horse, but "wearing a white cowboy hat with a silver headpiece that hides her hair" and "sparkling silver chains that drape her arms and legs, as white, feathery poofs hang along the body of the horse".[1] Behind her lies Luca Giordano's 1690 painting La Conversion de Saint Paul, depicting the Conversion of Paul the Apostle.[2]

Composition[edit]

Beyoncé collaborated with several progenitors of dance music on the album, such as Grace Jones (left) and Nile Rodgers. (right)

According to critics, Renaissance has an "innovative" and "playful" approach to genre,[28][29][30] blending and shifting between several styles, primarily various genres of post-1970s black dance music.[31][32][33][6][15] Described as a dance,[33] house,[34] disco,[35] pop and R&B album,[29] its songs incorporate elements of a wide variety of sub-genres, namely bounce, Detroit techno, dembow,[36] reggaeton,[36] garage,[37][38] Afrobeats, boogie,[39] funk, gospel, Miami bass, psychedelic soul, hip hop, trap, gqom, new jack swing, Jersey club,[28][30] Chicago house,[33] deep house,[39] electro house,[40] hip house,[28] synth-pop, hyperpop,[41] dancehall, and nu-disco.[33][42]

The tracks are connected by seamless transitions facilitated by beatmatching, evoking a DJ mix.[35][43] This reflects "the shifting moods and the physicality of the dance floor" rather than "the constraints of a radio station or a playlist", according to The New Yorker's Carrie Battan.[44] Some tracks also have unconventional song structures, containing multiple tempos and movements.[28][45][46]

Lyrically, Renaissance contains themes of escapism, self-assurance, self-expression, hedonism and pleasure,[35][47][48] with Beyoncé inspiring joy and confidence in listeners.[49] According to The Guardian, it "urg[es] listeners to wholeheartedly embrace pleasure", particularly referencing joy in Black culture.[30] The album's lyrics emphasize dance as both a measure of personal catharsis and a liberating spiritual practice.[50]

Beyoncé collaborated with, sampled and interpolated several progenitors of dance music on the album, including both mainstream and underground artists. This made the album a celebration of Black and Black queer dance culture, with Vulture's Charlie Harding likening it to "a DJ set curated by house-music pioneers".[51]

Promotion and release[edit]

Beyoncé originally intended to release Cowboy Carter as the first installment of her trilogy project, but explained that "with the pandemic, there was too much heaviness in the world", and so released Renaissance first, because "[people] deserved to dance."[52]

Beyoncé began to tease a new album on June 7, 2022, by removing her profile picture from all of her social media platforms.[53][54] Four days later, the text "What is a B7?" appeared on the homepage of the singer's official website.[55] Fans noticed that the website also had placeholders for her upcoming seventh and eighth studio albums.[56] Beyoncé officially announced the album and released the pre-sale for Renaissance on her website and digital streaming platforms the following day.[57][58][59]

After first joining TikTok in December 2021, Beyoncé posted her first video, a compilation of people (including American rapper Cardi B) "dancing, vibing, and singing along" to Renaissance's lead single, "Break My Soul", on July 14, 2022.[60] Further, she made her entire catalog available for use on the platform,[61] attracting significant media attention.[62][63][64] Two days before the scheduled release, on July 27, the album arrived in retailers in France and eventually leaked onto the Internet.[65]

The album was released on July 29, 2022. Upon the album's release, Beyoncé posted a note on her website revealing that Renaissance is the first part of a trilogy project that she recorded over the past three years, during the COVID-19 pandemic.[66]

Critics opined that Renaissance appeared to be getting a more conventional rollout than a number of Beyoncé's previous albums, which were surprise releases, an approach Beyoncé herself was credited with popularizing. The New York Times wrote that the album's rollout reflected its throwback themes and music, with Beyoncé eschewing an exclusive digital release and instead releasing elaborate vinyl and CD packages.[67] This ushered in a revival of CD sales, according to Billboard.[68]

However, despite Beyoncé's decision to forego a surprise release, Renaissance's rollout quickly proved to be unconventional and disruptive in several other ways. Beyoncé kept her public appearances to a minimum, foregoing interviews and promotional efforts, and mostly keeping her communication limited to subtle clues, Easter eggs, and messages placed throughout her online media. She has also completely avoided promotional live performances for the album until the Renaissance World Tour. Her only other performance following the album's release was a private concert at Atlantis The Royal in Dubai, UAE in January 2023, but, despite anticipation, the set list did not contain any material from Renaissance. Most notably, Beyoncé has eschewed a traditional release schedule for music videos. As of now, there are no official music videos available to accompany the songs from the album as part of its promotional efforts.[69]

Singles[edit]

On June 20, 2022, Beyoncé announced the album's lead single, "Break My Soul", would be released at midnight Eastern Time on June 21, to coincide with the 2022 summer solstice.[70][71] The song appeared on music streaming service Tidal hours early, on June 20, and a lyric video was later released on YouTube.[72][73] The song peaked atop the US Billboard Hot 100, making it her twelfth total career chart topper (eighth as a solo artist) and her first song without an accompanying artist to do so since "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" in 2008.[74] On August 5, 2022, Beyoncé released a remix exclusively through her online store, before releasing it to streaming services; "The Queens Remix" is a collaboration with Madonna, sampling and interpolating her 1990 song "Vogue". It features Beyoncé name-dropping Madonna and many iconic black women during the song's rap verse.[75]

On September 21, 2022, Hiphop-n-more reported that "Church Girl" would be released as the album's second single; a week later, it was announced that it would be simultaneously released alongside "Cuff It" as the next two singles.[76] "Church Girl" was scheduled to impact rhythmic contemporary radio on October 4, 2022,[77] but the release failed to materialize whereas "Cuff It" was released as the sole second single, being sent to radio in France on September 28, 2022.[78] It impacted rhythmic and urban contemporary radio stations in the United States on October 4, 2022.[77][79] The song peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the 21st song in her solo career to reach this milestone, and 31st overall.[80] On April 11, 2023, the song became Beyoncé's longest-charting solo Hot 100 hit.[81] Charting for a 34th week on the Hot 100, the song surpassed her previous hit with Lady Gaga, "Telephone" which released in 2010 and charted for 33 weeks.

A remix of "America Has a Problem" featuring Kendrick Lamar was released through digital and streaming platforms on May 19, 2023, as the third single. The remix debuted at 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[82] "Virgo's Groove" impacted Italian radio stations on June 2, 2023, as the radio follow-up to "Cuff It" and fourth single, overall.[83]

Tour[edit]

Beyoncé performing at the Renaissance World Tour in 2023

On February 1, 2023, Beyoncé announced the Renaissance World Tour via her Instagram account. The concert run began on May 10, 2023, at Friends Arena in Stockholm. It is her first solo tour since The Formation World Tour in 2016. The tour quickly received widespread acclaim, with Rolling Stone dubbing it a "once-in-a-lifetime show from one of pop's greatest live performers".[84]

Visuals[edit]

When Renaissance was first released, Beyoncé stated through a press release that she wanted fans to focus on the music, rather than any visual components, but confirmed that visuals were eventually forthcoming.[85] On August 9, 2022, Beyoncé released a teaser video for the album's opening track, "I'm That Girl", that included a rapid montage of over twenty outfits that news outlets interpreted as previewing the various impending music videos for each track on the album. Some scenes included Beyoncé recreating Moi Renee performing her 1992 song "Miss Honey", Beyoncé and 2 dancers fronting La Conversion de Saint Paul, and Beyoncé in a hedge maze labyrinth.[86][87]

9 months later, Beyoncé embarked on the album's companion tour on May 10, 2023. Part of her tour visuals additionally included a message stating that, although fans were demanding visuals, "a queen moves at her own pace".[88] During her concert in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 17, 2023, Beyoncé addressed a fan's sign inquiring about the visuals, responding, "You are the visuals, baby."[89] Jeff Sneider of Above the Line reported on August 31, 2023, that a visual album for Renaissance, directed by Nadia Lee Cohen, was secretly filmed and is being shopped to various studios and streamers. He described it as an art film that is "weirder" than Beyoncé's previous works, Lemonade (2016) and Black Is King (2020).[90]

The last show of the Renaissance World Tour at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on October 1, 2023, closed out with a trailer for Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé. Released on December 1, 2023, the film features highlights from the tour and documentary footage from the development of both the album and the tour.[91][92]

Renaissance Couture[edit]

In July 2022, Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing was inspired by Renaissance to sketch designs that related to the songs and lyrics. Rousteing refined the sketches during a vacation in August and proposed to Beyoncé and her stylist Marni Senofonte to create a couture collection in collaboration. Over the next five months, they developed a Balmain x Beyoncé couture collection inspired by the history of the house and the performer's musical heritage. The collection includes 16 pieces for the 16 tracks on the album, two of which were worn by Beyoncé at the Grammys and the BRIT Awards in early 2023. Rousteing described the collaboration as historic, expressing his gratitude to Beyoncé for launching the collaboration and partnering with him to design a collection that reflected the power of the album's compositions. Rousteing noted that he is the first Black person to lead a Parisian couture house and that he believes Beyoncé is the first Black woman to oversee a collection from a Parisian couture house.[93] Beyoncé fronted the April 2023 edition of Vogue France to promote the collection.[94]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.6/10[95]
Metacritic91/100[96]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[97]
And It Don't StopA+[98]
Clash9/10[99]
Entertainment WeeklyA[100]
Exclaim!10/10[49]
The Guardian[101]
MusicOMH[102]
NME[103]
Pitchfork9.0/10[104]
Rolling Stone[39]

Renaissance received universal acclaim from music critics,[105][106][107] many of whom praised its cohesive yet eclectic production, joyous nature, vocal performance, and celebration of post-1970s Black dance music.[108][109] Renaissance is the most highly lauded album of 2022, topping many critics' year-end lists.[110] On review aggregator Metacritic, Renaissance received a score of 91 out of 100 based on 26 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." On review aggregator AnyDecentMusic?, the album has a rating of 8.6 out of 10 based on 25 reviews.[95]

Veteran critic Robert Christgau hailed Renaissance as "the album of the year" and Beyoncé's "finest album", calling it unconventionally political, "erotically explicit, knowledgeable, and felt", with each song a "shrewdly differentiated pop smash".[98] Characterizing it as a "modern classic" and Beyoncé's most impressive album, Exclaim!'s Vernon Ayiku wrote that Renaissance is "the sound of a once-in-a-generation superstar performing at her peak".[49] According to Kyle Denis of Billboard, Renaissance is an "absolutely stunning body of work", and perhaps Beyoncé's most innovative and experimental album with her "most nuanced vocal performances" to date.[28] NPR's Ann Powers described it as "Beyoncé's Sistine Chapel", with its "stunning" design and detail, multifaceted nature and "timeless" impact.[110]

Describing the album as "intergenerational musical exchange that landed like a cultural comet", Okayplayer's Robyn Mowatt praised Beyoncé's ability to bring together dance legends (such as Grace Jones and Nile Rodgers) with contemporary underground musicians.[111] The Line of Best Fit critic David Cobbald described the album as one of Beyoncé's best, noting that it is a departure from her previous work. Cobbald praised the album for celebrating "underappreciated architects" of disco, house and funk music.[112] Music journalist Kate Solomon, writing for i, dubbed the album a "dazzling tribute to underground and underappreciated Black culture" and a dancefloor record aimed to heal "the pain and anguish" of the COVID-19 pandemic.[113] Melissa Ruggieri described it "a danceteria devoted to hedonism, sex and most importantly self-worth" in USA Today.[48]

Wesley Morris of The New York Times noted Beyoncé's "galactic" vocal performance, delivery and range.[114] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times called the album "the year's smartest record [and] also its most deep-feeling", praising its rhythms, harmonies and vocals.[115] Pitchfork critic Julianne Escobedo Shepherd called it "a challenging, densely-referenced album" that forays into dance and club music more successfully than similar projects by Beyoncé's peers.[104] Marcus Shorter of Consequence wrote that Renaissance is "damn close to perfect" with its "infectious and not overbearing, elegant, but not shallow" songs.[116] John Amen, writing for PopMatters, complimented the album's contemporaneous production, dubbing it "a litany of samples, allusions, and tributes" but with "more style than substance" at times.[117] Resident Advisor's Kiana Mickles praised Beyoncé's use of experimental production and genres on the album but wrote that it "falls flat" when Beyoncé references Black/Brown queer ballroom culture.[118]

Featured, sampled and interpolated artists[edit]

Producer Kelman Duran, who received permission from the late Memphis rapper Princess Loko's family and main collaborator Tommy Wright III to use her catalog of songs in his productions, sampled a song of hers with Wright (1994s "Still Pimpin") to create dembow and reggaeton-infused opening track "I'm That Girl".[119][120] Jamaican singer Grace Jones was featured on the track "Move"; Jones said how she does not usually collaborate with other artists, but agreed to work with Beyoncé because she is "a beautiful person, a beautiful talent" and she attends the same church as Jones' brother.[121][122] American television personality Ts Madison, whose viral video clip "Bitch, I'm Black" is sampled on "Cozy", expressed gratitude to Beyoncé for allowing her to "let me use my voice" and "let it be known that we are all Black in totality" to a global audience.[123] Other artists who expressed gratitude for being included on Renaissance include Kevin Aviance, whose song "Cunty" is sampled on "Pure/Honey";[124] and ballroom commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy, whose chants are borrowed from the 2009 DJ MikeQ track "Feels Like" on "Pure/Honey".[125]

While many artists felt honored to have their work sampled on this album, a few took issue with it. One of them being American singer and songwriter Kelis, whose 2003 single "Milkshake" was interpolated on "Energy". Beyoncé sought permission from Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of the Neptunes – the sole writers, producers, and rights owners of "Milkshake" – who subsequently cleared the interpolation. Kelis voiced anger about this, claiming that the Neptunes made her sign an exploitative contract and that she should have been notified of the song's use in advance. In response, the interpolation was removed from "Energy".[126] British tabloid The Sun claimed that English pop duo Right Said Fred said that Beyoncé did not seek permission to interpolate their 1991 single "I'm Too Sexy" on "Alien Superstar". In response, Beyoncé's representative said that the accusation is false, with permission being sought on May 11, 2022, and granted on June 15, noting that the duo had previously spoken of their gratitude for being on the album on social media.[127] Other featured producers on the song include Sonny John Moore, A.G. Cook, Nile Rodgers, Honey Dijon, and Green Velvet.[citation needed]

Additionally, the song "Heated" was met with criticism online for its use of the word "spaz" in its lyrics, which disability advocates said is an ableist slur.[128] Other users online said that "spaz" has a different meaning in African-American English and is synonymous with "freaking out".[129][128] Beyoncé announced the following day that the word would be removed from the song, with the word soon being replaced with "blast".[130]

Accolades[edit]

At the end of 2022, Renaissance appeared atop several critics' lists ranking the year's top albums. According to Metacritic, it was the most prominently ranked record of 2022, and the album that was listed at number one by the most publications (25 publications).[131] Renaissance was the most nominated album at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, receiving eight including Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. This tied Beyoncé with Jay-Z as the most Grammy-nominated artists of all time. Her four wins made her the most awarded artist in Grammy history with 32 wins, surpassing the previous record of 31 that was held for 22 years by Hungarian-British conductor Georg Solti.[132][133] Rolling Stone placed Renaissance at number 71 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.[3]

Awards[edit]

Organization Year Award Result Ref.
American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Album Nominated
Favorite Soul/R&B Album Won
Danish Music Awards
2022
International Album of the Year Nominated [135]
People's Choice Awards The Album of 2022 Nominated
Soul Train Music Awards Best Album of the Year Won
BET Awards
2023
Album of the Year Won[b]
Billboard Music Awards Top Dance/Electronic Album Won
Top R&B Album Nominated
Fonogram – Hungarian Music Awards
2023
Foreign Modern Pop-Rock Album of the Year Nominated
GAFFA Awards (Denmark)
2023
International Release of the Year Nominated
Grammy Awards Album of the Year Nominated
Best Dance/Electronic Album Won
iHeartRadio Music Awards R&B Album of the Year Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Album Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Album of the Year Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Album Won
Urban Music Awards
2023
Best Album Nominated

Year-end rankings[edit]

Selected year-end rankings of Renaissance
Publication List Rank Ref.
Entertainment Weekly The 10 Best Albums of 2022
1
The Guardian The 50 Best Albums of 2022
1
The Hollywood Reporter The 10 Best Albums of 2022
1
Los Angeles Times The 20 Best Albums of 2022
1
NPR Best Albums of 2022
1
The New York Times Jon Pareles' Best Albums of 2022[c]
1
The Observer Kitty Empire's 10 Best Albums of 2022
1
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2022
1
Rolling Stone The 100 Best Albums of 2022
1
Vulture The Best Albums of 2022
1

Commercial performance[edit]

Renaissance was a commercial success.[158] Upon release, Beyoncé became the first artist in history to simultaneously chart at #1 on 23 or more Billboard charts.[159] Renaissance garnered the record for the one of the most single-day streams for an album by a female artist on Spotify in 2022, with over 43 million streams,[160] Within three months of its release, Renaissance amassed over 1 billion streams on Spotify.[161] It was also the 17th best-selling album of the year according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).[162] Renaissance was the number one most streamed album worldwide on Deezer in 2023.[163]

United States[edit]

Renaissance debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, with 332,000 album-equivalent units—the second biggest 2022 album debut by a female artist and the third-biggest overall.[164][165] In doing so, Renaissance became Beyoncé's seventh consecutive studio album to debut at number one and the first album released by a woman in 2022 to reach number one.[164] Already the first artist to have her first six albums all debut at number one, she became the only female artist whose first seven albums did so as well.[166]

Following its release, all tracks from Renaissance charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the chart dated August 13, 2022. All 15 new tracks debuted inside the top 70 of the chart, while previously released lead single "Break My Soul" ascended to number one,[167] making Renaissance Beyoncé's second album to chart all of its tracks simultaneously after Lemonade achieved the feat in 2016.[168] Additionally, Renaissance became Beyoncé's first album since I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008) to achieve multiple top ten singles in the United States, with "Break My Soul" and "Cuff It" peaking at number 1 and 6 respectively.[169]

Renaissance received 179.06 million streams in its first week, the eighth-biggest of the year overall, and the most of Beyoncé's career.[164] In terms of traditional album sales, Renaissance posted the fourth-largest sales week for an album in 2022 with 190,000 albums sold. Additionally, the album sold 26,000 vinyl copies in its debut week.[165]

Renaissance went on to spend its first 14 consecutive weeks within the top 10 of the Billboard 200. It returned to the Top 15 after a boost following the 65th Annual Grammy Awards.[170]

Internationally[edit]

By its second day of release, Renaissance was outselling the rest of the week's top five bestselling albums combined in the UK.[35] The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, becoming Beyoncé fourth album to do so as a solo act, and her fifth including Destiny's Child. The album also debuted at number one on the Official Vinyl Albums Chart.[171]

In Ireland, Renaissance debuted atop the Irish Albums Chart, becoming Beyoncé's fifth number one album in the country. Simultaneously, "Break My Soul" also peaked at number one on the Irish Singles Chart, allowing Beyoncé to score an Irish chart double.[172]

In France, Renaissance debuted at number one on the SNEP albums chart, becoming Beyoncé's first number one album and her fourth top-ten album in the country. Previously, 4 was Beyoncé's highest-charting album in the country, peaking at number two in 2011. Additionally, the album was the first album by a female artist to top the chart in 2022.[173]

In Canada, Renaissance debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, becoming Beyoncé's third consecutive album to do so and her fourth number one album overall.[174]

In the Netherlands, the album landed atop the Album Top 100, becoming Beyoncé's third consecutive album to reach the summit in the country. The album has so far spent three non-consecutive weeks at number one, following its return to number one in its 11th week on the chart.[175]

In Australia, the album debuted at number one on the Australian Albums Chart, becoming Beyoncé's third consecutive number-one album in the country after Beyoncé and Lemonade.[176] Additionally, seven tracks from the album debuted in the top 50.[177] It spent two consecutive weeks at number one, becoming her first album to do so since Beyoncé.

In New Zealand, Renaissance debuted at number one on the New Zealand Albums Chart, becoming Beyoncé's second consecutive number one album in the country following 2016's Lemonade, and her seventh top ten albums in the country overall.[178]

In Brazil, the album achieved massive success and was awarded diamond certification by Pro-Música Brasil.[179]

Impact[edit]

Upon release, Renaissance sparked conversations and essays on the history of dance music and its roots in Black culture.[180][181]

Several industry fellows reacted positively toward the release. American singer Crystal Waters, who helped make house music mainstream in the 1990s, said she was "ecstatic" when she heard Beyoncé's new music and expressed gratitude for how she is shining a light on underappreciated house singers.[182] Chicago house DJ Ron Carroll described Renaissance as a "trailblazing" album that has reintroduced house music to the radio and encouraged other musicians to follow Beyoncé's lead.[183] Aluna Francis of English electronic music duo AlunaGeorge lauded Renaissance for its impact on dance music and its Black creators. Francis explained that throughout her career, she had hoped and fought for the widespread recognition of Black musicians' place in dance music. Francis wrote that this revolution has now occurred following the release of Renaissance, with Beyoncé breaking stigmas and declaring that dance music is Black music, in turn encouraging listeners to reflect on the visibility and exploitation of Blackness within dance genres. Francis added that Renaissance could greatly benefit the investment and growth of communities around the world which allow Black dance music to thrive.[184]

Other musicians also praised the album for its impact and musicology. British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding said that her then-upcoming album Higher Than Heaven is a dance and house album in the same vein as Renaissance, with Beyoncé taking those genres to a global level.[185] She later said that Renaissance restored her faith in pop music after the genre was heading in a bad direction.[186] American singer SZA said that the album was the biggest risk a mainstream artist has taken in recent years.[187] American musician Sufjan Stevens praised the production on the album, telling Stereogum: "The wizardry on that album is so awesome and frustrating for me as a musician because even if you took out her vocals, I'm still obsessed; I'm still intrigued by the engineering and production that's going on and the harmonic relationship between chords."[188]

Beyoncé's mention of Telfar and Birkin bags in the closing track "Summer Renaissance" caused searches for both items to increase on Google Trends and multiple re-sale websites.[189]

Considered by many music critics and journalists to be the favorite for Album of the Year at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, Renaissance's loss to Harry Styles's Harry's House was widely considered a "snub" or upset, with some critics ascribing Beyoncé's repeated losses in this category to the Recording Academy's overlooking or misunderstanding of Black female musicians and African American musical styles.[190][191][192]

Track listing[edit]

Renaissance track listing
No.TitleLyricsMusicProducer(s)Length
1."I'm That Girl"3:28
2."Cozy"
3:30
3."Alien Superstar"
3:35
4."Cuff It"
  • Beyoncé
  • Andrews
  • Coney
3:45
5."Energy" (featuring Beam)
1:56
6."Break My Soul"
  • Beyoncé
  • Gesteelde-Diamant
  • Ross
  • Carter
4:38
7."Church Girl"Beyoncé
3:44
8."Plastic Off the Sofa"
4:14
9."Virgo's Groove"
  • Beyoncé
  • Kali
  • Jesse Wilson
  • Solomon Cole
  • Daniel Memmi
  • Beyoncé
  • Kali
  • The-Dream[b]
6:08
10."Move" (featuring Grace Jones and Tems)
3:23
11."Heated"
4:20
12."Thique"
  • Beyoncé
  • Gesteelde-Diamant
4:04
13."All Up in Your Mind"
  • Beyoncé
  • Stevens
  • Nichols
2:49
14."America Has a Problem"
  • Beyoncé
  • Gesteelde-Diamant
  • Carter
  • Beyoncé
  • The-Dream
  • Dean[a]
3:18
15."Pure/Honey"
  • Eric Snead
  • Count Maurice
  • Kevin Bellmon Richard Cowie Tucker
  • Andrews
  • Coney
  • Gesteelde-Diamant
  • Saadiq
  • Jerel Black
  • Michael Cox
  • Beyoncé
  • BloodPop
  • Nova Wav
  • Saadiq[b]
  • The-Dream[b]
  • White[b]
  • Dean[b]
4:48
16."Summer Renaissance"
  • Beyoncé
  • Boggs
  • Coppin
  • Diagne
  • Lawson
4:34
Total length:62:14

Notes

  • ^[a] indicates a co-producer
  • ^[b] indicates an additional producer

Samples and interpolations[edit]

Source: Billboard[193]

  • "I'm That Girl"
  • "Cozy"
    • contains an excerpt of "Bitch I'm Black" by Ts Madison
    • contains a sample of "Get With U", written by Curtis Alan Jones and performed by Lidell Townsell & M.T.F
    • contains a sample of "Unique", as performed by Danube Dance featuring Kim Cooper.
  • "Alien Superstar"
  • "Cuff It"
  • "Energy"
    • contains an interpolation of "Ooh La La La", written by Mary Brockert and Allen McGrier and performed by Teena Marie
    • contains a sample of "Explode", written by Freddie Ross and Adam Piggot and performed by Big Freedia.
    • contains an interpolation of "Milkshake", written by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo and performed by Kelis (later removed on digital and streaming versions).[194]
  • "Break My Soul"
    • contains elements of "Show Me Love", written by Allen George and Fred McFarlane and performed by Robin S.
    • contains a sample of "Explode", written by Freddie Ross and Adam Piggot and performed by Big Freedia.
  • "Church Girl"
    • contains a sample of "Center of Thy Will", written by Elbernita Clark and performed by The Clark Sisters.
    • contains elements and interpolations of "Where They At", written by Jimi Payton, Dion Norman, and Derrick Ordogne and performed by DJ Jimi.
    • contains elements and interpolations of "Think (About It)", written by James Brown and performed by Lyn Collins.
    • contains elements of "Drag Rap (Triggerman)", written by Orville Hall and Phillip Price and performed by the Showboys.
    • contains a sample of "Mister Magic" written by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter and performed by Grover Washington Jr.
  • "Heated"
  • "America Has a Problem"
  • "Pure/Honey"
    • contains a sample of "Miss Honey", written by Andrew Richardson, Count Maurice, and Moi Renee and performed by Moi Renee.
    • contains a sample of "Cunty (Wave Mix)", written by Eric Snead and Jerel Black and performed by Kevin Aviance.
    • contains a sample of "Feels Like", written by Michael Cox and Kevin Bellmon and performed by MikeQ & Kevin Jz Prodigy.
  • "Summer Renaissance"

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording locations[edit]

Personnel[edit]

  • Beyoncé – vocals (all tracks), programming (tracks 1, 15), horn (15), vocal production
  • Beam – vocals (4, 11), drums (5)
  • Grace Jones – vocals (10)
  • Tems – vocals (10)
  • The-Dream – background vocals (1, 11), synthesizer (3, 4, 9), programming (7, 14), drums (13, 15)
  • Kelman Duran – programming (1, 11)
  • Stuart White – programming (1), drums (7, 11, 12, 15)
  • Mike Dean – synthesizer (1–3, 13, 14, 16), drums (13), programming (16)
  • Nija Charles – background vocals (2)
  • Chris Penny – keyboards (2, 3), programming (2–4)
  • Honey Dijon – programming (2–4)
  • Luke Solomon – programming (2–4)
  • Dave Giles – vocals (2)
  • Blu June – background vocals (3, 15)
  • Raphael Saadiq – bass, clavichord, drums, strings (4); horn (15)
  • Nile Rodgers – guitar (4)
  • Sheila E. – percussion (4)
  • Daniel Crawford – piano (4)
  • Scott Mayo – saxophone (4)
  • Lemar Guillary – trombone (4)
  • Jamella Adisa – trumpet (4)
  • Al Cres – drums (5)
  • Skrillex – drums (5)
  • Nova Wav – synthesizer (5)
  • Big Freedia – vocals (5, 6)
  • The Samples[d] – choir (6)
  • Jason White – conductor (6)
  • Caleb Curry – vocals (6)
  • Danielle Withers – vocals (6)
  • Jasmine Patton – vocals (6)
  • Jorel Quinn – vocals (6)
  • Kim Johnson – vocals (6)
  • Kristen Lowe – vocals (6)
  • Sabrina Claudio – background vocals (8)
  • Patrick Paige II – bass (8)
  • Derek Renfroe – guitar (8)
  • Leven Kali – synthesizer (8), background vocals (9, 16)
  • Annika Gesteedle-Diamant – background vocals (9)
  • Ashlee Wingate – background vocals (9)
  • Kye Young – background vocals (9)
  • Laylani Gesteedle-Diamant – background vocals (9)
  • Ari PenSmith – background vocals (10)
  • Tatiana "Tatu" Matthews – background vocals (11)
  • Calev – guitar (11)
  • Cadenza – programming (11)
  • Hit-Boy – programming (12)
  • Lil Ju – programming (12)
  • Jameil Aossey – drums (13)
  • S1a0 – drums (13)
  • BAH – programming (13)
  • BloodPop – programming (13, 15), synthesizer (13)
  • DIXSON – background vocals (15)
  • Kenneth Whalum – saxophone (15)
  • Lee Blaske – strings (15)
  • Keyon Harrold – trumpet (15)
  • Colin Leonardmastering
  • Stuart Whitemixing, recording
  • Andrea Roberts – engineering (all tracks), recording (11)
  • John Cranfield – engineering
  • Brandon Harding – recording (1, 2, 4–7)
  • Chi Coney – recording (3–5, 11, 15, 16)
  • Hotae Alexander Jang – recording (4, 15), engineering assistance (15)
  • Russell Graham – recording (4)
  • Steve Rusch – recording (4)
  • Chris Mclaughlin – recording (6)
  • Delroy "Phatta" Pottinger – recording (10)
  • GuiltyBeatz – recording (10)
  • Jabbar Stevens – recording (13)
  • Matheus Braz – engineering assistance
  • Mariel Gomerez - A&R
  • Ricky Lawson - A&R/Project Manager

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Certifications and sales for Renaissance
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[257] Gold 35,000
Belgium (BEA)[258] Gold 10,000
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[259] Diamond 160,000
Canada (Music Canada)[260] Platinum 80,000
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[261] Platinum 20,000
France (SNEP)[262] Platinum 100,000
Hungary (MAHASZ)[263] Gold 2,000
Italy (FIMI)[264] Gold 25,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[265] Platinum 15,000
Poland (ZPAV)[266] Platinum 20,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[267] Gold 20,000
Sweden (GLF)[268] Gold 15,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[269] Gold 100,000
United States (RIAA)[270] Platinum 1,000,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release history for Renaissance
Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
Various July 29, 2022 [271][272]
Japan September 14, 2022 CD Sony Music Japan [273]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Edward Rittenhouse Jr. was nephew of Beyoncé's mother Tina Knowles-Lawson. Tina stated that, although Beyoncé and her sister Solange referred to him as "Uncle", Johnny was her nephew, not her brother.[11]
  2. ^ Tied with SZA's SOS.
  3. ^ The New York Times released three year-end album rankings by three of their music critics. Renaissance was one of only two albums, alongside Rosalía's Motomami, to be ranked on all three lists, placing second on Lindsey Zoladz's list and fifth on Jon Caramanica's list in addition to topping Pareles'.
  4. ^ The Samples choir consists of Alexandria Griffin, Anthony McEastland, Ashley Washington, Ashly Williams, Chelsea Miller, Deanna Dixon, Erik Brooks, Fallynn Rian, Herman Bryant, Jamal Moore, Javonte Pollard, Jonathan Coleman, Naarai Jacobs, and Porcha Clay.

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