How Is Beyoncé's New Single, "Girls (Who Run the World)"?

Slate's Culture Blog
April 19 2011 3:51 PM

How Is Beyoncé's New Single, "Girls (Who Run the World)"?

A version of Beyoncé's new song, "Girls (Who Run theWorld)," has leaked online. (It's reportedly the lead single from herforthcoming studio album her fourth which is setfor a June release .) It samples heavily from the jittery, sweaty dancehall hit " Pon de Floor " by Major Lazer , a.k.a. producers Diplo and Switch.

The empowerment war cry which celebrates those "strongenough to bear the children, then get back to bidness" sounds a lot like something we might expect from frequent Diplo/Switchcollaborator M.I.A., though with fewer outright political references. ( Stillsfrom the video shoot also suggest an M.I.A.-ish military aesthetic : Beyoncé sportsa look that the Cut's Amy Odell describes as "desert-warrior-meets-marching-band flag girl.") I'm enjoying the song,though that may be because it's been numbing my brain into submission. As acelebratory song, it's a bit joyless. Judge for yourself:

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(This link was working when we posted, but YouTube videos withthe song have been getting yanked all day.)

Reactions across the web have been decidedly mixed:

Gawker :"No, this song does not rule the world. In fact, we would like the world tospin backwards so that we could prevent this musical dud from ever happening."

Vulture :"[I]t's kind of a monster - aggressive and intense and totally committed in allthe ways you'd hope for the first big move in a new promo run from one of ourmost cherished pop stars. That means it's as immediately familiar as it isbluntly effective; we have given in to it already."

Hairpin : "[I]t's ... good? Right? Is it good?"

VillageVoice : "Girls" is fun to listen to and will probably inspire lotsof  peppy YouTubetributes  as it spools across the web, but there's also somethingexhausting about it that goes beyond its cheer-team beats. It doesn't seem somuch like a song as it does a collection of movements, of snippets that can bebroken down into iTunes previews. Make all the jokes about compositional ADDbecoming more of an epidemic in this currently overstimulated age that youwant, but more and more pop songs seem like they should heed  CocoChanel's advice  and take one accessory off before leaving the house ..."

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