Why Beyoncé holds the key to office culture

 


In May 2019, before COVID-19 began sweeping through the world, the World Health Organization declared burnout “an occupational phenomenon.” In fact, concern about work and well-being goes back centuries and was always linked to culture: It was Aristotle, after all, who worried about what it would take to create a sense of flourishing or eudaimonia.


Now that chief executives around the globe are trying to maintain or reinvent both corporate culture and future strategy in the wake of a pandemic that rewrote the rules of work, it’s popular culture that leaders should consider to win the hearts and minds of their workers — specifically pop music.


Take this year’s zeitgeist tune “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, known to her fans simply as “Queen Bey.” It’s a dance-based rallying cry for workers rejecting old constraints in new times from an album titled “Renaissance.” And it’s rich in cultural data.


The song is an anthem not so much for the Great Resignation as the Great Resentment. The chorus energetically exhorts listeners to release “ya anger,” “ya mind,” “ya job,” “the time” — in that order. A word that crops up defiantly throughout is “motivation.” The implication being that it’s a bit thin on the ground.


Break My Soul” isn’t the voice of an innocent generation from yesteryear during which work culture was infantilized and power lay strictly above the heads of the rank and file. A good example there is the innocently jolly “Heigh-Ho” from Walt Disney Co.’s “Snow White” in 1937.


Nor is it quite the pay-and-conditions anger of Generation X, those born between the 1960s and 1980s who grew up with 1970s hit songs like the distinctly unsubtle “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck or Dolly Parton’s feminist rallying cry in the song and film “9 to 5" from 1980, now reprised for the new times in a successful touring musical.


Take this year’s zeitgeist tune “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, known to her fans simply as “Queen Bey.” It’s a dance-based rallying cry for workers rejecting old constraints in new times from an album titled “Renaissance.” And it’s rich in cultural data.


The song is an anthem not so much for the Great Resignation as the Great Resentment. The chorus energetically exhorts listeners to release “ya anger,” “ya mind,” “ya job,” “the time” — in that order. A word that crops up defiantly throughout is “motivation.” The implication being that it’s a bit thin on the ground.


“Break My Soul” isn’t the voice of an innocent generation from yesteryear during which work culture was infantilized and power lay strictly above the heads of the rank and file. A good example there is the innocently jolly “Heigh-Ho” from Walt Disney Co.’s “Snow White” in 1937.


Nor is it quite the pay-and-conditions anger of Generation X, those born between the 1960s and 1980s who grew up with 1970s hit songs like the distinctly unsubtle “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck or Dolly Parton’s feminist rallying cry in the song and film “9 to 5" from 1980, now reprised for the new times in a successful touring musical.


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source https://www.thewrapupmagazine.com/2022/10/why-beyonce-holds-key-to-office-culture.html

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