“Okay, they ready, drop the new music”, are the words that sent the world into a frenzy at the end of Beyoncé’s elaborate Super Bowl LVIII Verizon Ad. Just moments after this, fans were shocked to find a new post on Beyoncé’s social media, announcing the March 29th release of her next album (tentatively titled act ii), the second installment to a three-part project that began with 2022’s RENAISSANCE. As if this announcement wasn’t enough of a surprise, Beyoncé dropped two new singles entitled “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES”. Yet again reinventing her sonic landscape, the two tracks find Beyoncé diving deep into her own expression of country music, creating instant classics in the process.

    “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM”, which was briefly teased just minutes before its release in the act ii announcement trailer, is an upbeat, playful track driven by classic country banjo, guitar, and heavy drum kick sounds. As Beyoncé makes a tribute to her Texas roots, her signature and incomparable vocal arrangements build a luscious, warm, and infectious soundscape. The track has quickly taken the world by storm, spawning numerous viral trends and topping charts simultaneously. If this wasn’t enough, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” marks the first country song by a black woman to ever go number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Making important history as she moves forward, Beyoncé has proved yet again on “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” that there is only one Queen B.

    “16 CARRIAGES” finds Beyoncé in a grounded and reflective state, delivering one of the most stunning songs in her entire catalog. As she looks back on her own whirlwind of a career that began at such a young age, Beyoncé expresses the hardships of growing up quickly in the public eye and the importance of resilience throughout life. As the mid-tempo track builds a comforting and breathtaking experience for the listening, Beyoncé sums up the message of the track through the lyrics, “Had to sacrifice and leave my fears behind, For legacy, If it’s that last thing I do, You’ll remember me, Cause we got something to prove, In your memory, On the highway to truth, Still see our faces when you close your eyes”. This bittersweet reflection combines nostalgia with the knowledge of healing, striking a chord that is not always easy. In doing so, this song is the perfect match for anybody who is on their own personal healing journey.

    As an artist who is constantly evolving, exploring new sonic landscapes, and is devoted to transparency and honesty, the first taste of Act II feels like quintessential Beyoncé. 

“TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” serve as two different expressions of country, and display Beyoncé’s versatility in its totality. With vocal and lyrical deliveries like no other, Beyoncé proves time and time again that she is on a tier of her own. As the release of Act II creeps closer and closer, the first tastes of Beyoncé’s eighth studio album stand to prove that she may be about to release the most important album of her career thus far.
- Logan Bandi

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