Beyoncé Announces New Country Album, ‘Act II,’ After Super Bowl Commercial

After days of speculation and online sleuthing by fans — just another week, in other words — Beyoncé used her appearance in a Super Bowl commercial on Sunday to announce that she would soon be releasing new music.

In a Verizon ad that ran shortly after halftime, Beyoncé joked with the comedian Tony Hale about doing something that would “break the internet” (i.e. Verizon’s 5G network). She ran through a few riffs, like “Beyonc-A.I.,” a Barbie-like “Bar-bey” and a presidential “BOTUS.”

Then she said, “Drop the new music,” before the commercial ended. Soon after, Beyoncé’s website updated with the announcement that a new album, identified as “Act II,” would be released on March 29.

It appeared to be the second part of Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album project, and perhaps one with a country-rock theme, given the sound and look of two new songs, “Texas Hold ’Em” and “16 Carriages,” that quickly appeared online.

“Texas Hold ’Em” begins with rapid-plucked banjo — played by the performer and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, known for her explorations into American history — and guitar, before moving into a stomping beat, with Beyoncé rhyming “Texas” and “Lexus” and singing lines like, “It’s a real live boogie and a real live hoedown.” On “16 Carriages,” an epic ballad, the guitars swell with organ-loud percussion as Beyoncé sings about looking back at a life after losing innocence “at an early age.”

Both songs have contributions from the producer Raphael Saadiq, whose many collaborators have included Beyoncé’s sister Solange, and who also worked on the first “Renaissance” album.

The visuals for both tracks picture Beyoncé in cowboy hats — a feature of last year’s Renaissance World Tour and Beyoncé’s continued style signature, as seen last week at the Grammy Awards.

As with the first “Renaissance,” the new album announcement represents a kind of shift in communication for Beyoncé. She released her 2013 album, “Beyoncé,” with no warning — instantly grabbing global attention and setting off a music industry craze for surprise “drops.” Its follow-up, “Lemonade,” in 2016, was teased by a Super Bowl appearance but still made an instantaneous splash. In the “Renaissance” era, Beyoncé’s revelations have been more like conventional advertisements.

When Beyoncé unveiled “Renaissance” in July 2022, she posted a statement on Instagram that explained it was merely part one of a “three act project” that she recorded during the pandemic. She referred to that album as “Act I,” and described it as “a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world.” That album, with a 1990s retro dance theme, went to No. 1 and was the centerpiece of her tour last year, which sold $580 million in tickets, according to the trade publication Pollstar — second only to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

Beyoncé dabbled in country music on “Daddy Lessons” on her 2016 album “Lemonade,” and a remix featured the Chicks. She teamed with the Nashville group for a performance on the Country Music Association Awards that November, which received a mixed reception from country fans online but was vigorously defended by the singer’s loyal fans.

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