Break my soul: why does Beyonce’s single have such an effect?

Break my soul: why does Beyonce's single have such an effect?

beyonce exits Break My Soul where she sings I just quit my job (…) damn they work me so damn hard “(“I just quit my job (…) damn they made me work so hard”.) A song that particularly resonates to the point of arousing a movement of “great resignation”.

A single that makes you quit

Beyonce had said in an interview for vogue want to come back with break my soul in the clubs of his youth. Indeed, this single which precedes his album Renaissance scheduled for July 29, is accompanied by rhythms and house sounds from the 90s, which lend themselves readily to voguing. Voguing is a style of socio-political urban dance, born from black-American LGBT circles. It is therefore with an air deeply linked to a militant history that the queen of RnB sings lyrics in tune with the times of resignation.

“Now I just fell in love, and I just qui 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”. (Now I just fell in love, and quit my job. I’m gonna find a new purpose. Damn they make me work too hard. Work at 9, then quit after 5. And they get on my nerves, c that’s why I can’t sleep at night). All on a sample of Big Freedia (Explode) which chants “Release your anger / Release your mind / Release your job / Release your time” (release your anger, release your mind, release your work, release your time).

And the lyrics have an undeniable resonance since on June 23, two days after the release of the title, the site The Face published five fan testimonials announcing that they had resigned in stride. “I was a senior partner for a Fortune 500 company (the list of the largest American companies, Ed.), explains Katt, 30. It’s hard to describe how I felt listening to the track! It looked very much like a sign. I had been going around in circles for some time, I felt very tired and unhappy. Vianna, 22, confirms: “It was a breath of fresh air from him (…) I feel super relaxed now that I left my job. I won’t have to live my life when the sun is down, and I can have my regular doses of vitamin D, as I don’t have to sleep during the day. I plan to be out all summer, dancing to his album.”

And on the networks, Internet users have fun:

The big resignation

And if this single has such an effect and resonates in this way, it is because it is part of a troubled period in the relationship of individuals to their work. According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 38 million Americans left their jobs in 2021. A trend that is continuing in 2022, as highlighted by the latest reports from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. In France too, resignations are up by +20% between July 2019 and 2021, with 89% of these resignations linked to burnout according to DARES.

More than a great resignation, it seems that we are going through a period of “great resignation”. After COVID, the confinements, in a period of environmental and geopolitical anxiety, it seems that employees are going through a period of loss of meaning in their work. COVID has contributed greatly to this with the arrival of telecommuting and a sudden awareness of time spent at work, like CNN presenter Christi Paul, who quit live this weekend to spend more time with his family. Also, a setback allowed by the pandemic which suddenly provokes a desire to develop other hobbies or an awareness of job insecurity. Also, questions about ecology in particular bring out with an unprecedented dimension the derisory aspect of adhering to a system that is reaching its limits, we remember the recent resignation of students from Agro Paris Tech.

So when work no longer makes sense, “Break My Soul” comes as a breath of fresh air in pop culture saturated with capitalist singles glorifying hard work and plenty of money.

End of the trial period for the girlboss

The term girlboss is a neologism popularized with the publication, in 2014, of the book by Sophia Amoruso, creator of NastyGal. A girlboss she is a woman who succeeds in masculine spheres. In the history of feminism this new icon comes as a promise of emancipation through work and this figure is excessively glorified in especially American pop culture, how can we forget Britney who explains to us in 2013 that if you want a Maserati, be sexy in a bikini we better work (bitch), and let’s not stop, let’s be a champion. In the 2000s, the United States transformed the myth of self made man in self made woman. And the trope is spreading everywhere, Kim Kardashian’s advice for women to “move our fucking buttocks and work”, the emancipation of women is done by money, by work, by social success. The girlboss was born and probably dresses in Prada.

But what Daisy Letourneur rightly recalls in her book We are not born man is that “the relation of women to masculinity can also be, when they are authorized to do so, to adopt its codes. but that even when they “manage to embody fragments of hegemonic masculinity, they live under the permanent threat of seeing themselves brutally returned to their femininity”. be a girlbossas much as believing in self made man American is to forget the social dynamics that operate within the not so perfect system of meritocracy. And if for ten years, pop culture has glorified a woman in costume, which reproduces in the feminine the same dynamics of domination and abuse classic within super-liberal workspaces, this figure begins to crack in the light of these emancipatory failures.

And if Beyonce marked a generation by explaining to us that those who run the world are the girls, she now returns with a much more interesting single on the place of our souls in a system that glorifies social success, ascent and the appearance.

The girlboss is dead, long live it girlboss !

Is she really dead? Because if the girlboss weakened somewhat, another more insidious one replaced it. For several years now, all the light has been on the self-lovethe body positivism. Messages of benevolent acceptances, which we hear on the radio with the voice of Lizzo, but which sometimes leave us perplexed. You no longer need to climb the ladder and be an authoritarian CEO to be an accomplished woman, on the other hand you have to love yourself, a cult of the self is underway but it is not without financial implications. With feminism, we can no longer make women buy by promising them a complexion, lingerie, an impeccable body for their husbands, no, we have done better and more insidious, all this but for ourselves. In this cult of beauty and appearance, capitalism still leads the dance. So when Beyonce comes to talk about soul, it’s a breath of fresh air. If she is not the first female voice to speak out against the faults of success story sold to us, it nevertheless remains a strong voice that suddenly clashes with the ultra-popular musical landscape glorifying supra-capitalism. No question of being beautiful in a bikini, of doing your nails, of having money that you can’t afford, just being in love, free and at peace with your soul. Much simpler life messages and more than being encouraged to be “that bitch” super rich as Yung Baby Tate kept telling us all last year with his music I am, viral on Tiktok. A return to basics, to love and to the soul that we won’t be broken, that’s why it resonates so much with a population in loss of meaning.

© Visual Christopher Harris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *