BEYONCE: explicit, visual album reinvents standard for new music

Jan. 27, 2014

Alexander J. Nedd
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4.5 out of 5 stars

While most of the U.S was sleeping on Dec. 13, 2013, Beyoncé dropped an eponymous album that forever changed how new music is released. No promotion, no warning – nothing.

The entertainer once again proved to the world her true domination on the charts. Her fifth studio album soared to number one in over 100 countries.

Even with her huge Super Bowl success in early 2013 and a world tour, many thought Beyoncé was losing her reign on pop music. She hadn’t released any new music since early 2011. Never have people been more wrong. With her secret release, Beyoncé solidified her position as the queen of pop music, and did so in an unparalleled manner.

Although “Beyoncé” is already full of hits, Beyoncé continues to one-up the competition by releasing a music video with every song. The self-titled album consists of 14 songs and 17 videos on DVD with bonus content. The songs range from catchy hip-hop numbers like “Yoncé” to sexy ballads and R&B tracks like “Jealous.” It also includes anthems like “Flawless,” which are dripping with the feminism Beyoncé has modeled since her early stages.

The album includes collaborations with her husband Jay-Z, as well as the talents of Drake, Pharrell and Frank Ocean. Each music video is beautifully pieced together and escorts you into her world. This feat makes the hush-kept production even more extraordinary.

Beyoncé fans will not be disappointed. The opening track “Pretty Hurts” elucidates the cost natural beauty has on women in society. She sings “perfection is a disease of a nation.” The innocent, girlish vibe comes through on tracks “XO” and “Superpower,” but quickly transcends in to a more seductive tone. This is especially apparent on the track “Drunk In Love,” which features Jay-Z. From there, Beyoncé dives into territory not usually expressed in her other albums: sex.

“I don’t, at all, have any shame in being sexual,” reported the 32-year old singer during her self-titled documentary on her album release. “I’m not embarrassed about it all; I do feel that sexuality is a power we all have.”

Beyoncé is able to prove this as a solid bulk of her album is devoted to many promiscuous acts and situations. The songs “Blow” and “Rocket” are easily some of her most explicit content. However, she doesn’t overdo it (meaning it’s not your average Nicki Minaj piece).

The lyrics are sophisticated and poignant. The songs express human emotion, attraction and natural curiosity in a manner that makes it relatable for any mature audience to understand.

A guilty pleasure off the album is the bass-driven track “Partition,” a song so steamy that the singer admits she hasn’t even played it for her mom. It’s a daring and revealing side that shows fans it’s OK to pursue their feelings. Beyoncé’s album highlights a new age of feminism that makes you pause and reflect while listening. It’s explicitly well-done.

The album finishes with a touching tribute titled “Blue” in support of her two-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy. The music video follows the couple on vacation and gives fans a look at her relationship with both Blue and Jay-Z.

When it comes to remodeling yourself, few artists are able to do exactly what they want without distorting their image and compromising their values. Beyoncé’s newest album does exactly that; she gives her audience not just an album but a piece of art, both musically and visually.

An interlude between each track details Beyoncé’s early years as a singer, providing a road map of her life and ends with who she is today. It’s bold, unique, and yet true to herself. Beyoncé is back, ultimately proving that she never left.