Track 12. “Run the World (Girls)”
Sounds Like: Well, first and foremost, it sounds like Major Lazer’s “Pon de Floor,” the sinewy, popping dancefloor filler that the song samples for its highly unconventional beat. Otherwise, it sounds like the Queen B commanding her femme-army in a statement of personal empowerment—though a decade after “Independent Women, Pt. 1,” if they haven’t accepted that girls run this shit by now, they probably never will.
Pros: We still love that sample, one of the rawest, most unique-sounding and most purely exciting backing tracks that any top 40 jam has used in a long-ass time. And Beyoncé impresses us more each time we hear “Girls” with the sheer fervor of her voice, whether shouting out her hometown (“This the way they made me / Houston, Texas baby!“) or calling out her prospective haters (“I think I need a barber / None of these bitches can fade me”). And her self-harmonizing this time means actual interesting harmonies, not just the same part two octaves apart.
Cons: It’s all in the name of being anthemic, but it’s hard to deny that the song’s endless stream of word-shuffle chanting (“Who run the world? Girls!” “Girls! We run this mother!” “Who are we? What we run? The world!”) gets a little rote after a while—not to mention that it’s hardly the most original sentiment to begin with. Besides, not to date ourselves by talking about a subject matter as antiquated as LP track ordering, but why on earth would Beyoncé decide to use this song as her album’s closer? (At least it gets the “I Was Here” taste of our mouths., though.)
Lyric as Personal Mantra: Whole thing, really, but let’s go with “My persuasion can build a nation / Endless power, our love we can devour / You’ll do anything for me.”