Let’s talk about Beyoncé for a moment, okay? Because who doesn’t like talking about Queen B?
On the 13th of December Bey completely SLAYED her contemporaries’ album efforts; rubbishing all the promotional jingle-jangle and massive marketing campaigns that had dragged on through much of the year (see ARTPOP and PRISM).
At midnight, Beyoncé released her self-titled “visual album”, her fifth solo compilation to date, with little more than an iTunes update and an Instavideo. Claiming that she was “bored” of how her previous albums were promoted, Bey simply announced it over the Internet in a simple 15-second video (QUEEN).
Complete with 14 songs, along with their accompanying videos, BEYONCÉ also contains 3 bonus visuals, including the feel-good track “Grown Woman”. Although the song was featured in Bey’s April 2013 Pepsi commercial, as well as a fixed set number in the “Mrs. Carter World Tour”, it was ultimately scrapped from the album as it did not fit with its minimalistic image. More stress was dealt to the hearts of the Beyhive when 30-second video previews of all the tracks were made available on YouTube.
The fuss-free release was fitting of the simple, relatable image that the album strives for. Absolute secrecy was necessary, and Beyoncé’s team finalised the release date of the album, codenamed “Lily”, only a week before it dropped. OneRepublic frontman and co-writer of lead single “XO” Ryan Tedder was reportedly informed of the album’s imminent release only an hour and a half before it happened.
But does the album live up to the massively successful compilations of the past? Can it really match the many smash hits that album #3 “I Am… Sasha Fierce” spawned, such as the iconic “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”? Based on the video previews, “BEYONCÉ” promises an interesting marriage of alter ego Sasha Fierce’s sensuality with the aggressive R&B displayed in album #2 “B’Day”. Knowles’ second visual album to date (the first was “B’Day Anthology Video Album”) packs a punch much greater than any wrecking ball.
By serving up ratchet realness in tracks like “Flawless” alongside empowering anthems such as “Pretty Hurts”, “BEYONCÉ” absolutely deserves its stellar performance on the charts, selling 1 million digital copies in just six days and setting a new iTunes record. Calmer, more heartfelt tracks such as “Blue”, featuring her daughter Blue Ivy, and the low, mournful “Heaven” also explore Bey’s personal experiences and struggles as a mother. In short, this album is indeed worth the wait.
Here is the tracklist for “BEYONCÉ”:
1) Pretty Hurts
2) Ghost / Haunted
3) Drunk In Love feat. Jay Z
5) No Angel
6) Yoncé / Partition
9) Mine feat. Drake
11) ***Flawless feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
12) Superpower feat. Frank Ocean
Having released 2 singles “XO” and “Drunk In Love” on the 15th and 16th of December respectively, it may be some time before other singles are selected. However, given Beyoncé’s track record of plainly disregarding industry conventions, she might eventually release ALL the tracks as singles (Music Mondays?), or simply not choose another single, forcing the public to focus on the record as a whole. Nevertheless, I personally feel that potential singles from the album are “Pretty Hurts”, “Flawless”, “Superpower”, “Heaven”, and “Blue”. While all the tracks have strong hooks and direction, these are the few songs that stand out with their clear, concrete visions and purposes.
Most strikingly, Beyoncé has brutally schooled other current artists who THOUGHT they had successfully conquered 2013. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Britney Spears are just some of the hype-loving artists who have no doubt learnt a thing or two about substance overpowering style anytime, anywhere.
Now that the Queen of the United States has silenced the palace maids (see above) we just have to wait and see what the Queen of England has to offer next year (I’m talking about Adele, of course).
WATCH – all the 30 second previews on Beyoncé’s YouTube channel here
BUY – “BEYONCÉ” on iTunes here