“Girls (Who Run the World),” reportedly the first single from Beyoncé‘s forthcoming album, leaked last night, and one thing’s for sure: Sasha Fierce is definitely not trying to sound like much else on the radio right now.
(For the moment the song is streaming at The Fader, but just a heads up, the stream may not last long.)
The track’s brief piano intro, akin to that of Lady Gaga‘s “Telephone” (on which Beyoncé featured), is a fake-out: after five seconds, the air is sonically sucked out of the track and replaced with a thumping dancehall snare sampled from Major Lazer‘s 2009 single “Pon de Floor.”
What follows is a pounding track, full of sidechained compression, but not trance-y in the least. Mostly the track is a call-and-response chant of “Who run the world?” “Girls!” but several pointed comments on empowerment are skillfully weaved into the lyrics, without feeling out of place: “I’m repping for the girls who’re taking over the world/ have me raise a glass for the college grads”—not to mention a shout-out to those “strong enough to bear the children then get back to business”—sit comfortably in the same song as “I think I need a barber/ None of these b*****s can fade me.”
In a way, this track is the flipside of The Prodigy‘s 2004 single “Girls,” another compression-heavy club track with a “girls” chant. But while The Prodigy’s Broken Glass sample is about “telling stories about all the young girls,” Beyoncé’s track restores the girls’ own subjectivity.
The “Girls”-chanting is further justified by the bridge, for which the beat falls back and the lyrics get as grandiose as the leaked video stills: “My persuasion can build a nation/ In this hour our love we can devour/ You’ll do anything for me,” the practically Cleopatra-channeling Beyoncé coos.
All in all, the single is fairly unprecedented, in its collision of Caribbean club beats and diva-rapping with girl-power anthem tropes (that don’t rely heavily on sexualization). Who knows how it will fare against the surfeit of RedOne and Dr. Luke Euro-house hits? One thing’s for sure: the song is certain to strike a chord.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]