- Beyoncé is back with her new song “Break My Soul,” and it’s a Great Resignation anthem.
- The song is about quitting your job and finding new motivation, something many have been doing in the last year.
- It also cements the Great Resignation as part of today’s popular culture.
Beyoncé has officially signed off on quitting your job.
Her newest single, “Break My Soul,” has been heralded as a Great Resignation anthem — and it marks a cultural turning point.
The musical icon — who samples rapper Big Freedia — sings: “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.” The job works her nerves — and “that’s why I cannot sleep at night.”
Like the millions of Americans who have been quitting their jobs at near-record highs for a year, Beyoncé isn’t abandoning the concept of work altogether. Instead, she’s “lookin’ for motivation” and a “new foundation” — something that has certainly propelled many of America’s quitters into different roles as they realize that life is too short to work in a job they aren’t passionate about.
Nick Bunker, an economist at job site Indeed, told CNBC’s Greg Iacurci that “Break My Soul” marks “one instance of a broader public awareness or discussion about people quitting their jobs, which is reflective of what’s happening in the labor market and society.”
But the Beyoncé effect goes beyond just amplifying an existing trend.
“She’s a cultural icon, so everybody has all eyes on her,” Terri Lyne Carrington, the founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, and a drummer who once backed Destiny’s Child, told Insider.
“What I appreciate about her is she uses her platform responsibly; not every well known or commercial artist with such a large platform does that. She really affects the younger generation. So many young women, especially, hang on to her every word.”
Beyoncé can create what Carrington calls a “ripple effect,” especially among younger generations — who also happen to be driving the Great Resignation. Music can have a powerful impact and it helps people come together as a community, Carrington said, and has “always been a tool for justice.”
An endorsement from Beyoncé can be more than just a coy reference in a new song of the summer. When the star released the single “Formation” in 2016, which also came after a hiatus from the singer, it mentioned the chain Red Lobster. After that mention came a 33% bump in sales, according to CNN, and Red Lobster spokesperson Erica Ettori told the outlet that Red Lobster trended on Twitter – a first for the chain.
Of course, it’s easier to go buy some biscuits than to just up and quit your job (although today’s labor market makes it much easier to quit than it has been in recent years).
“I know people are saying Beyoncé told me to quit my job. I’m not sure that’s necessarily her intention, because I don’t think she wants people to go hungry either,” Carrington said. As inflation continues to drive prices up more and more, it’s especially hard to be out of work right now — even the Americans with a job are seeing their wage gains eaten up by inflation.
“PSA: when Beyoncé sings “I quit my job” she is referring to job to job transition, not that she stopped working,” University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube tweeted.
And Beyoncé isn’t quitting her job — it is, after all, making music — and she’s certainly far removed from the low-wage workers who have been propelling the Great Resignation. Forbes has her net worth at $450 million, and the extra $10 million she added to her fortune from 2021 to 2022 likely took a nice bite out of inflation.
But the song itself is “tapping into” the pandemic realization by American workers that “things can collapse fairly quickly,” Carrington said, and the importance of having a fulfilling life and contributing towards the greater good.
“I think it really speaks to the moment and speaks to the fact that people are tired of being really kind of treated unfairly, underpaid, underappreciated, all those things,” she said. “If we could all feel that we are really truly creating value with our work, I think that’s the big picture.”