Beyoncé Announces New Country Album, ‘Act II,’ After Super Bowl Commercial

The pop superstar used a Verizon ad to tell fans fresh music is on the way. A country-themed follow-up to “Renaissance,” which she referred to as “Act II,” will arrive on March 29.

After days of speculation and online sleuthing by fans — just another week, in other words — Beyoncé used her appearance in a Super Bowl commercial on Sunday to announce that she would soon be releasing new music.

In a Verizon ad that ran shortly after halftime, Beyoncé joked with the comedian Tony Hale about doing something that would “break the internet” (i.e. Verizon’s 5G network). She ran through a few riffs, like “Beyonc-A.I.,” a Barbie-like “Bar-bey” and a presidential “BOTUS.”

Then she said, “Drop the new music,” before the commercial ended. Soon after, Beyoncé’s website updated with the announcement that a new album, identified as “Act II,” would be released on March 29.

It appeared to be the second part of Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album project, and perhaps one with a country-rock theme, given the sound and look of two new songs, “Texas Hold ’Em” and “16 Carriages,” that quickly appeared online.

“Texas Hold ’Em” begins with rapid-plucked guitar and moves into a stomping beat, with Beyoncé rhyming “Texas” and “Lexus” and singing lines like, “It’s a real live boogie and a real live hoedown.” On “16 Carriages,” an epic ballad, the guitars swell with organ-loud percussion as Beyoncé sings about looking back at a life after losing innocence “at an early age.”

The visuals for both picture Beyoncé in cowboy hats — a feature of last year’s Renaissance World Tour and Beyoncé’s continued style signature, as seen last week at the Grammy Awards.

As with the first “Renaissance,” the new album announcement represents a kind of shift in communication for Beyoncé. She released her 2013 album, “Beyoncé,” with no warning — instantly grabbing global attention and setting off a music industry craze for surprise “drops.” Its follow-up, “Lemonade,” in 2016, was teased by a Super Bowl appearance but still made an instantaneous splash. In the “Renaissance” era, Beyoncé’s revelations have been more like conventional advertisements.

When Beyoncé unveiled “Renaissance” in July 2022, she posted a statement on Instagram that explained it was merely part one of a “three act project” that she recorded during the pandemic. She referred to that album as “Act I,” and described it as “a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world.” That album, with a 1990s retro dance theme, went to No. 1 and was the centerpiece of her tour last year, which sold $580 million in tickets, according to the trade publication Pollstar — second only to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

Beyoncé dabbled in country music on “Daddy Lessons” on her 2016 album “Lemonade,” and a remix featured the Chicks. She teamed with the Nashville group for a performance on the Country Music Association Awards that November, which received a mixed reception from country fans online but was vigorously defended by the singer’s loyal fans.

This post was originally published on NY Times

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