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NO GRIND

Even Beyoncé is burned out

Beyoncé's lyrics, And I Just Quit My Job
Screen shot via YouTube
Bey out
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated

If you have been feeling burned out at your job, but on the fence about quitting, you officially have permission—marching orders, really. Because Beyoncé said so.

The living legend’s latest song, Break My Soul, released last night ahead of her upcoming album “Renaissance,” is a manifesto for the great resignation.

Gone seem to be the days when Bey would sing and dance about her notoriously unmatched work ethic, iconically encapsulated in the Formation lines:

I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it.

Six years and a pandemic later, Beyoncé is no longer telling women to drive themselves beyond their limits. Instead, she is singing about quitting.

Work by nine, then off past five

With her new instant hit, Beyoncé has provided the official anthem for the burnout generation. It has exactly the dance vibes that you need as a backing soundtrack for your decision to leave the man behind and go look for a better way to spend your life.

Now, I just fell in love, and I just quit my job
I’m gonna find 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

She, too, works too hard. She, too, needs better sleep. Queens, you see, they’re just like us.

Millions of Americans have quit their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, which is still present in Beyoncé’s music and life (Break My Soul includes verses about wearing a mask to go out). Many job leavers have cited burnout as the main reason for quitting, along with a desire to find meaning in work, and the need for more flexible work arrangements.

In the song, the encouragement to join the movement is so clear it could be a mantra:

Release ya anger, release ya mind
Release ya job, release the time
Release ya trade, release the stress
Release the love, forget the rest

Anti-capitalism is where it’s at

Beyoncé is always perceptive when it comes to capturing social priorities. She did it with the new wave of feminism, she did it by highlighting Black culture in tandem with the rise of Black Lives Matter, and she is doing it again by centering the movement against corporate exploitation—even if doing so through an instant commercial success.

Beyoncé herself seems to encourage the comparison with her previous all-work message. The new single features Big Freedia, a hip hop artist who on Formation sings:

I did not come to play with you hoes, haha
I came to slay, bitch

Now, Beyoncé samples Big Freedia’s song Explode. The featured lyrics go:

I’m ’bout to explode, take off this load
Bend it, bust it open, won’t ya make it go

Explode’s lyrics lead to a verse that leaves even less doubt about what is it we’re talking about here:

I been workin’ all day (Workin’ all day)
And I been workin’ all night (Workin’ all night)
Now play dat beat, I’ma be all right (Be all right)

The parallel suggests a continuation, or one of her constant evolutions, rather than an opposition. Doing it on your own terms, and without stress, is the new doing it all. Bye to the caffeine-glorifying capitalist mythology:

Bey is back and I’m sleepin’ real good at night

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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