The music of the year reminds us of the beauty of the same life

Yesterday July release of RenaissanceBeyoncé’s seventh studio album, her management team announced in a press release that the recording would not include images as part of the rollout. “This is an opportunity once again to be a listener, not a viewer,” it wrote. The choice is odd, if slightly disappointing, given the only fact that Beyoncé persists as one of the leading visual designers of our time. The sudden release of the singer’s eponymous album in 2013 and Lemonade, in 2016, accompanied by a spectacular set of music videos that rewrite the rules of modern art. (Collection of videos for Lemonade premiered as a movie on HBO.) Today, when she “speaks” outside of the album cycle, it’s mostly through expertly curated Instagram posts that have since become a theme. subject to countless fan theories. So the fact is Renaissance will enter the world without its own visual language, it’s hard to understand.

Visuals are the dominant record in this era. We exist in and on screens. We aspire to be known to the world, and our most advanced social media apps allow for such an exchange. YouTube is our search platform, a bottomless video marketplace that gives everyday users the ability to create what they want, to be who they want to be. For a time, Instagram was a glamorous woman who couldn’t live without. Influencers have built an entire economy around the concept of being followed. Recently, TikTok has become the the new frontier of cultural production, where motion pictures flash on our iPhones with compelling, practically irresistible dynamics.

As the digital age becomes an inevitable part of my daily life, social media enlarge my view exponential, a near-comprehensive prism that I look through. It’s a province for me to explore and test for meaning; The meaning is often derived from all manner of visual displays. Like I have written before, pictures make us real. Memes and GIFs are the authoritative vernacular in most of my group chats. Some nights I stalk the web of grid-connected apps with a feverish obsession, gliding through the possibilities of what I see and promising everything those square snapshots are. — the angular faces, the cropped brown bodies — could bring. Even the clunky streaming age of TVs has provided so much content and images that I’m constantly gobbling up. The images are all around us. It seems natural to yearn for more, to find new permutations to define yourself.

But then I listen Renaissance. And listen and listen and listen. And I understood. Its songs aim to live within us, not necessarily as a reflection of Beyoncé’s artistic invention but as a reminder of our own great ability despite the hardships around us. She is not alone in this creative endeavor. Other artists this year have attempted to take a similar detour, making music experienced on a more similar, human level.

Sometimes, listening to Drake can feel like watching a History Channel filtered through TikTok. A shameless bum who, as an eager student of the past, his six solo albums is a fusion of global influences, a blend of scenes, sounds and sensibilities. of local. Most recent, Honestly, it’s nothingreleased unexpectedly in June. Like Renaissance, what I love about it is the way it enters the neon fog of the dance floor, looking for a more analogous moment when the digital terrain doesn’t dictate how we interact, create, and create ourselves. Dear. In Drake’s case, he drew inspiration from the music of Baltimore and Jersey clubs, setting the mood by producing virtuoso pieces from famous stars like Black Coffee. Bad Bunny and Kendrick Lamar’s respective albums also called us to stand up and move forward this year. Even now I can hear it; The tremors of Bad Bunny rapping “Titi me pregunto,” its own kind of summer mantra, burst from the streets, New Yorkers energy more alive than ever. It is the sound of one city, of many cities around the world, finding its way back.

It’s been five months since its release Renaissance, and the call to image hasn’t subsided one bit. But that longing misses the point. RenaissanceIts spirit was never about what it could envision purely through Beyoncé’s eyes. We are her canvas, our bodies in motion, our pleasure to realize, are the images we seek. Music — bubbly, black, and completely weird — has transformed us into avatars of our own creativity and meaning, a prism of joy and resilience. Whether it is while singing the lines “comfortable in my skin” in “Cozy”, randomly uttering “unique!!” or even lose yourself in the sparkling production of “Virgo’s Groove” on Friday night, which is where the album comes to life most and where it is viewed. Those are lasting images. RenaissanceThe most compelling image will always be of us, together, celebrating ourselves.

In March, I lost a friend to suicide, and by the end of the summer I had lost my grandmother to dementia. There are also other losses. It was a year where everything felt big, dark, and finite. The music that called me, that saved me, does the opposite: It’s bright, messy, and incredibly vulnerable. It provides clarity. It lifted the remaining fog. The best musicians of the year got us moving again—not to the office, the bygone invention of pre-pandemic life, but back to the world, and back to the dance floor, where close arms The love of friends and the new fire is like a sensuality, and the swoosh of the bodies together like an aromatic oil. We all radiate with electricity and intention. We all rebuild our lives in the constant, dense aftermath of death.


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