Beyoncé has reached a rarified stratosphere in the pop realm, able to shut down the Super Bowl, direct an extended promotional video about herself and have HBO call it a documentary, and drop unexpected Houston hip-hop homages that are then misconstrued for rubes by Rush Limbaugh. Bey hadn’t yet hit those profile-raising levels when she released her remarkably enduring 2011 album 4, but it was decidedly a grown-woman record, moving from “Crazy in Love” to “Love on Top,” from “Single Ladies” to “Countdown.”
Her latest single, produced by freshly Justin Timberlake-rejuvenated beatmaker Timbaland, is literally titled “Grown Woman,” and the minute-long snippet audible in her new Pepsi commercial shows that phrase still means just about what it did on 4: an appealingly updated, slightly more sophisticated version of the same singer who broke out with Destiny’s Child more than 15 years ago. The ad makes this idea of the past-in-the-present explicit, showing Beyoncé dancing in front of mirrors filled with previous versions of herself.
“Embrace your past, but live for now,” goes the tagline. The song puts it better: “I can be bad if I want / I can go slow all night long / I’m a grown woman,” B belts out, smartly capturing the idea that maturity doesn’t mean you stop being able to have dumb fun; it just means being able to choose not to when appropriate. The music is a lithe mix of shuffling handclaps, laser-bleep synths, and tropical tones of what sound like steel drums. It’s refreshing and bubbly, like a — well, whatever, it works.