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Why Beyoncé’s foray into country makes total sense

Analysis by Rashad Walker, CNN

(CNN) — In true showstopping fashion, Beyoncé announced the release of new music last weekend at the Super Bowl, and proceeded to drop two buzzy country songs that hint at the vibe of her next album.

The songs, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “Sixteen Carriages,” were released by the singer shortly after the Super Bowl Halftime show on Sunday, and were accompanied with eye-popping visualizer videos on YouTube.

Beyoncé followed that with the announcement of her eighth solo studio album, “Renaissance Act II,” and to no one’s surprise, the new project caused an incredible response across social media and beyond.

Fashion inspired by Western wear has already been prominently featured in the visuals for her new music and in her styling at this month’s Grammy Awards and New York’s fashion week, but the singer has previously celebrated the oft-forgotten history of pioneering Black cowboys and cowgirls in her IVY Park x Adidas campaign in 2022.

While the casual listener might be surprised and perhaps even on the fence about Bey’s latest musical direction – coming after 2022’s acclaimed and more disco-infused “Renaissance” – her loyal fan base the Beyhive knows that change and evolution has always been at the forefront of her artistry.

They also know that this isn’t the first time Beyoncé has infused a country sound in her songs. This latest offering is actually an organic progression for the 32-time Grammy winner, whose music has deep roots in her native Houston, Texas. Beyoncé caught the ears of country music listeners in 2016 with the release of her song “Daddy Lessons,” taken from her sixth studio album “Lemonade.”

Accompanied by blaring harmonica, hand claps, and the steady strum of a banjo, Beyoncé sings “With his right hand on his rifle, and he swore it on the bible, Oh My Daddy said shoot.” The song made such an impression with country audiences, The Chicks covered it later that year. Beyoncé even joined forces with the group at the 50th Anniversary of the Country Music Awards for a live performance of “Daddy Lessons.”

Other notable moments when Beyoncé explored the country music genre include the songs “That’s Why You’re Beautiful,” “Satellites” and “Smash into You” off of her 2008 blockbuster album “I Am Sasha Fierce.” With strumming guitars, those ballads showed her vulnerability and especially her versatility, just a hint of things to come.

Beyoncé’s album “Renaissance Act II” is set for release on March 29.

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