Beyoncé surprise-released a new song on Saturday afternoon, the day before she is expected to be appear with Coldplay at the Super Bowl, and she doesn't waste any time in getting to the point: "I slay," she sings on "Formation," which was posted on her official website and released for free via subscription service Tidal.
A clean version of the track, which boasts a video that appears to be shot on location in New Orleans, is posted above. "Formation" arrives fully formed, complete with its very own product line.
It's also a striking and groovy dose of assertiveness, its edges so sharp they feel weaponized. Beyoncé takes a moment to shut down any conspiracy-obsessed haters, and has some requisite brags about wealth, but "Formation" feels like a celebration -- of life, of culture and of Beyoncé's own heritage.
"My daddy Alabama, mama Louisiana," she sings, just as the song's electronic shakes and shivers are coming into their own. The backdrop, at times sparse, at times heavy on the bass, is never less than tension-building. While Beyoncé picks up the pace just as "Formation" gets ready to pounce, the bulk of the song is eerie -- its electronics distant, unfamiliar and foreboding.
As previously reported, Beyoncé will return to the Super Bowl halftime show, which she headlined in 2013, to supposedly appear alongside Coldplay, this year's halftime headliners at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. While the artist appears on Coldplay's "Hymn for the Weekend," "Formation" has all the markings of a scene-stealer.