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We've gotta talk about Beyoncé's 'Renaissance'

CHERYL CORLEY, HOST:

And finally today, you should know by now that we couldn't end the show without talking about Beyonce. Her newest release, "Renaissance," dropped yesterday and has been garnering rave reviews. We asked music writer and critic Kiana Fitzgerald to walk us through some of her favorite tracks so far.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGO'S GROOVE")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Baby, come over.

KIANA FITZGERALD: So "Virgo's Groove" is just a wonderful little nugget of dance, disco, house, funk, soul. Like, it's just all encompassing of all the things that many people love, especially me. I love all the elements that she included here. And it's just as much Mary Jane Girls as it is Donna Summer. And by that, I mean, you know, there's, like, this very amorphous feeling of, you know, just wanting to express herself and wanting to get to a place where she can just be free and be as liberated as possible. And I think both of those acts represent that. So this song is one of my favorites. I feel like once I, you know, listen to this album again and again and again, it's going to be the one that I come back to. But overall, this song is magnifique.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGO'S GROOVE")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Right here, right now, iced up, bite down, baby, lock in right now. I want it right here, right now, cuddled up on the couch, motorboat, baby, swerve around, slow-mo comin' out my blouse. I want it right here, right now. Baby, come over. I can be the one that take you there. I can be the one that takes you there on this magic ride.

FITZGERALD: It's very apparent that she is indebted to this music. And she, I think with this album, just came right out and said, this is who I am, this is who I'm influenced by. And I want you guys to hear the beauty and what I see as beautiful as well.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA")

BEYONCE: (Singing) It's the way you wear your emotions on both of your sleeves, oh, to the face you make when I tell you that I have to leave.

FITZGERALD: "Plastic Off The Sofa" is pure love and soul. And it's so apparent that she's singing to her man, Jay-Z, and she's just having such a wonderful time reveling in her love for him and reveling in her adoration of him and even in her adoration of herself. This song is kind of a playful tribute to their relationship. So I think this one kind of stands out from the rest because I think this one is more of a soulful rhythm. And she definitely uses this to its fullest capacity in order to, like, let folks know how much she's in love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA")

BEYONCE: (Singing) We don't need the world's acceptance. They're too hard on me. They're too hard on you, boy. I'll always be your secret weapon in your arsenal, your arsenal.

FITZGERALD: So her 2016 album, "Lemonade," which directly focused on her kind of difficulties that she was facing in her relationship at that moment, I feel, is worlds away from where we are today, not only because of all the things that have occurred since 2016 to now but also because they've healed, and they've come together. So for her to come out with this album, you know, in 2022 years later and feel like, you know, she's absolutely head over heels in love and she feels like she has so much to express in terms of amorous adoration and all these fuzzy feelings inside, I feel like she's giving us permission to forgive and giving us permission to also move on.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURE/HONEY")

BEYONCE: (Singing) It's pure. Bad, bad, bad to the left. Money, money to the right. You can both, meet in the middle, dance all night. Take it all off or just a little, if you like. It's pure. It should cost a billion to look this good.

FITZGERALD: So "Pure/Honey" is all ballroom everything. This is such a dedication to Black and brown queer culture. She samples a Kevin Aviance song subtitled "The Feeling," and it's just a quintessential queer house track.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURE/HONEY")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Bossy B, bisous, right then left cheek, mwah, future, renaissance, study my technique, all the pretty boys to the floor.

BEYONCE: This is really her moment to just let free and let us do the same. And I feel like the song is kind of the crux of what she's getting at with this entire album, which is she's paying tribute to a community and a culture that loves her. And now she's finally, like, reciprocating that love in a very, very concrete way.

CORLEY: That was music writer and critic Kiana Fitzgerald talking about Beyonce's new album, "Renaissance," which is out now. And if you'd like to hear more of Kiana's thoughts, tune into NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. They'll be doing a deep dive on Beyonce's album in an upcoming episode. You can find that wherever you get your podcasts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURE/HONEY")

BEYONCE: (Singing) The devil's on my shoulder, as taboo as you want it, nasty is my guilty pleasure, nasty, nasty girl, if you give this a squeeze, baby, it's pretty... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.