The past decade has found Beyoncé tackling film on her own terms. From Lemonade and Homecoming to Black Is King and The Lion King: The Gift, Queen Bey has blossomed into an Emmy-nominated director, writer, and producer. With her first new song in over a year, Beyoncé waltzes her way towards the silver screen yet again. “Be Alive,” written and recorded for King Richard, is a riveting and raucous anthem of hard work, pride, and family.
Written and produced by Beyoncé and DIXSON, the track begins with breathtakingly pristine harmonies that cascade over twinkling piano keys which eventually morph into a rollicking collision of rock and R&B. From JAY-Z’s iconic “Takeover” to different live arrangements across various tours, The Doors’s “Five To One” has been a staple in The Carters’s musical lexicon. Therefore, it’s not a complete surprise that “Be Alive’s” sound heavily favors “Five To One.” The thumping drums create the perfect backdrop of Beyoncé’s soaring vocal performance. It’s a vocal filled with equal parts grit, gratefulness, and conviction. Lyrically, Beyoncé and DIXSON keep things simple. In addition to allusions to Black pride (“Couldn’t wipe this black off if I tried”) and feminism (“Got all my sisters by my side”), “Be Alive” opts for direct conversation over figurative language. “Do you know how much we have cried? / How hard we had to fight?” Beyoncé croons.
Obviously, Queen Bey has always been an otherworldly vocalist, but “Be Alive” is probably her most immediately engaging studio vocal performance since “Spirit”/”Otherside,” if not “All Night”/”Don’t Hurt Yourself.” She flutters through registers with outstanding ease, and every riff is executed with elite precision. Even though the vocal performance is so technically sound, Beyoncé never has to sacrifice the soul to achieve that. If anything, the two go hand in hand. Of course, there’s no talking about a Beyoncé track without mentioning her phenomenal vocal stacks. On “Be Alive,” the sparseness of the production is not immediately noticeable because Beyoncé fills so much of that space with her own voice. She employs her voice as its own instrument in the production of the song; it’s like one big warm sonic hug. After The Academy inexplicably snubbed “Spirit” for Best Original Song at the 2020 Oscars, let’s hope that they come to their senses and start engraving Beyoncé and DIXSON’s names on the statue right now.