Well! It’s “Rise Up,” a full song from Beyonce that you can actually buy on iTunes and listen to on the subway or whatever, so that feels like it should be well worth celebrating, doesn’t it? It should!
Even if the song is taken from the soundtrack for an animated film for which Beyonce voiced a part, and the song itself is a fairly undifferentiated inspirational ballad (even one penned by Sia and produced by Hit-Boy), at least it’s not for a commercial or guest feature! It’s an actual, real song, with a beginning and middle and end, and a melody and a hook and a bridge, and you can go buy it right now if you feel so inclined.
So why does this feel so disappointing? Well, it might be because we all know this isn’t a Beyonce song — not really. It’s just a song that Beyonce happens to be singing. There’s a difference. And it does the job serviceably, sure, by providing a big beatific ascent of a melody with blandly inspirational lyrics about being yourself or whatever.
But it feels almost alarmingly conventional, a kids’ soundtrack song, meant for being half-ignored while you file out of the movie theatre (and also to be greedily gobbled up by stans, I guess). It’s really not for anyone looking for a casual listen of a great new Beyonce song. And if you’ve gotten spoiled by the subtlety and complexity and dynamism of ballads like, oh, “If I Were A Boy” or “I Miss You” or “Scared of Lonely” or even the melodrama and bombast of “Halo,” this probably isn’t going to feel very good to you. It didn’t to me, at least.
So Beyonce, please just come back and be Beyonce again.