Hallelujah, Beyoncé has bestowed on us another gleaming gem of a song. A morsel to whet our appetites for the coming Renaissance album (and, with any luck, accompanying visual album) and a potent dance beat to complement the sunny weather. But 'Break My Soul' is more than just the first track of a fresh 16; it's a carolling death knell for an unhealthy cultural movement.
For generation 'Harder, better, faster, stronger,' the last couple of decades have pushed us to breaking point. As millennials - despite being labelled lazy avocado brunchers by Boomers with kids and mortgages at 22 - inflation, overpopulation and peer pressure combined to create the perception that if you weren't working yourself to the bone, you weren't doing it right.
We've been waking up at 5am to Tabata train, quaff a matcha smoothie and RT the morning headlines before spending the rest of the day wrestling with exhaustion (and its horrible cousin burn-out) to become a 'slashie' with three different careers, a 15K strong Insta following and a self-published 'how to' eBook. Constant comparison has made us feel guilty about not doing as much as the next person and fierce professional competition has spurred us to stay late every night at the office. If we weren't yet on the property ladder, we blamed ourselves for not trying hard enough and getting our heads down to inch pound by pound closer to a deposit. Such was the hold of 'grind culture'.
But as with all waves of behaviour, tides change. And these two years of extraordinary disruption have initiated a serious vibe shift. Forced indoors by Covid-19, we've reacquainted ourselves with family time, a commute-free day, self care and, dare I say it, a little bit of peace and quiet. Government restrictions might have lifted, but we've begun self-imposing a different set of rules. We're going back to the Linda Evangelista mantra of not doing things unless they feel truly worth our time. While Evangelista famously didn't get out of bed for less than £10,000 per day, the rest of us are considering whether opportunities to leave the house will contribute to our personal growth, whether they will mess with our carefully cultivated balance and whether they might bring us any joy or fulfilment.
Thanks Daft Punk for the beat that accelerated our ladder-climb, but we're listening to Beyoncé now, and she's telling us to quit our jobs.
True to form, Queen Bey's new track articulates everything we've been feeling; that work robbing us of our joy, stopping us from sleeping at night and generally squeezing the life out of us is something we don't have to stand for. That the constant grind isn't healthy and doesn't allow for all the things we've remembered are important to us too, now that we've had a minute to take stock of them.
Now I just fell in love
And I just quit my job
I'm gonna find a 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
I'm looking for a new foundation, yeah
And I'm on that new vibration
I'm building my own foundation, yeah
The new flex is building a life that feels purposeful for you personally, while giving you time to pause, rest up, find love (familial or romantic, whatever your flavour), keep your soul intact and have a good time. With terms like 'Slowmaxxing' worming its way into popular lexicon - celebrating the joy of dialling down the speed of even the most basic activities like moisturising your legs or brewing a tea - and a generally sparse uptake of summons to return to the office full-time, it's clear that Beyoncé is onto something big. Instead of going 'round in circles, round in circles', the movement we're riding is inviting us to slow down, 'let down [our] hair' and get 'back outside'.
Beyoncé's song isn't just a summer anthem, it's a vibe for the next decade, and 'I'm telling everybody'.
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