Beyonce dropped an earthquake of an album last week.
Beyonce beat the system with the unexpected drop of her fifth, self-titled album, which shocked the internet, the media and music fans alike. Although B's team had recently told us to expect an album soon, (Ne-Yo almost ruined the surprise as well), no one suspected it would happen this soon. Her unconventional marketing strategy was executed to perfection, and she successfully dodged a leak, which is rare if not impossible these days.
This record breaks numerous barriers. Bey has dubbed it a "visual album", first of all. For a clearer understanding of her offering, watching the 17 videos is a necessity, which have the effect of a short art film when viewed in sequence. It's crazy to think of the amount of effort this must've required.
Full of high-res, picturesque visuals, Beyonce's perfectionist nature is certainly clear, each frame unfolding with beautiful intricacy. Her acting skills are versatile - on "Pretty Hurts", she channels TLC while playing a beauty pageant contestant struggling with the pressure. This is completely contrasted by the anthemic "***Flawless", whereupon Bey's edgy, wild attitude is accentuated by monochrome visuals. She changes up the feel on each song, taking the concept of a "music video" to the next level with this artistic feast for the eyes.
The videos are accompanied by a new, unexpected sound. Bey has progressed by leaps and bounds, having developed a contemporary R&B sound all her own. This is not our typical Bey, and the album will no doubt remain an anomaly in her discography.
Beyonce's choice taste in featured artists is on-point as well. Including Drake and Frank Ocean on this record shows a deliberate effort to make an impact on a new and upcoming generation of music. You do not have to check the credits to know that Pharrell helped write the funky track "Blow". The same goes for the sounds of Drake's friend and go-to producer Noah "40" Shebib on the amazing track "Mine". Also included on this talented list is Justin Timberlake, James Fauntelroy, Sia, The Dream, Miguel and more.
Beyonce’s sound is much more mature than her previous work. This is obvious not only through the bonus visual of “Grown Woman” and hearing flashbacks to her childhood, but also through showing a more sexual side. B has never been so risqué and has often played it safe. Tracks such as “Partition” show this with lyrics such as “Oh he so horny, yea he want to fuck/He popped all my buttons, and he ripped my blouse/He Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown”. She turns it up more than a notch, and completely owns it.
You'd never think that a superstar like Beyonce has insecurities. But tracks such as "Jealous" and "Pretty Hurts" make her relatable in so many ways, as she admits that "perfection is the disease of a nation". This is contrasted by her pride as a mother on "Blue", dedicated to her daughter, and her pride of her success, owning the females in R&B as she tells them "bow down, bitches". On "****Flawless", Mrs. Carter exposes sides of her we've never seen before.
This project proves that Beyonce remains an unstoppable force in R&B music, and perhaps in music in general. It's bursting with creativity, and the all-encompassing visuals are an extraordinary move in a time when audio is often more important than video. She's developed a progressive new sound sound all her own, and you grow to love it more and more after repeated listens. It goes without saying that Queen B has produced one of the best albums of her career here.