Just a day ahead of her Super Bowl guest appearance, Beyonce has surprise-released her first new material in over a year with a new single called ‘Formation’, and an accompanying music video.

She released the song on Saturday night (February 6th), only just before she helps Super Bowl 50 halftime headliners Coldplay perform at Santa Clara, exclusively via Tidal, the streaming service she co-owns with her husband Jay Z.

Featuring minimalist production with a pronounced hip-hop sound, ‘Formation’s lyrics make reference to Beyonce’s Southern heritage. She was born in Texas, to parents from Louisiana and Alabama, and the video is shot in New Orleans, the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina over a decade ago.

BeyonceBeyonce released a new single, 'Formation', only available on Tidal at the time of writing

It features a number of visual and lyrical references to police violence against black people, an issue that has been prominent in US news coverage for the last couple of years. “Stop shooting us”, one piece of graffiti says, as Beyonce dances and poses atop police cars.

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It all adds up to a gritty street anthem emphasising roots and background – one lyric goes “I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” Her daughter, Blue Ivy, also appears in the video, dancing with a group of young girls. The track itself is produced by Mike Will Made It, and is co-written by Swae Lee from rap duo Rae Sremmurd.

The new release has prompted speculation that the 34 year old singer is about to unleash a new album. In January, sources close to the singer suggested that she was waiting for most of the hype around Adele’s 25 to die down before releasing it. In December 2013, she memorably dropped her last album Beyonce by surprise, but hasn't released any new material since the Platinum Edition of that album, until now.

She’ll be performing at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara tonight (Sunday February 7th), and will be a guest star with Bruno Mars as they help Coldplay entertain a global audience of more than 100 million.

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