The latest album by R’n’B queen Beyonce, can arguably be said to be her most controversial and explicit one yet. Most of the hype stemming from Beyonce’s self titled album derives from its silent release with no market promotion or warning to her millions of fans on December 13th. This unforeseeable move on keeping the ‘visual album’ a secret couldn’t have been a smarter marketing strategy. Through the quiet release of her exclusive album, Beyonce saved her record label copious amounts of expenditure on promotion, unlike Interscope Records, who spent 25 million on Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP album promotion.
Not only was the clandestine release of her fifth album genius in promoting itself through the hype of her fans and social media, the date she decided to drop it just proves you never mess with the Queen. ‘Beyonce’ was released on the same night that Lorde unexpectedly dropped a secret single, ‘No Better,’ on iTunes and around the same time Lupe Fiasco was touring for the preview of his new upcoming album.
This basically annihilated any form of competition she had going against her as the album reached 617,000 downloads in 48 hours. After six days, it had sold 1 million copies worldwide, making the Texas born singer the first female to ever have five number one albums on Billboard.
The bold visual album itself is comprised of 14 tracks and 17 videos featuring duets with Jay Z, Frank Ocean and Drake. The recording of the album and the filming of the clips that accompany it had secretly started in New York in 2012. Musically, the album explores different futuristic R’n’B sounds with more hip hop and, surprisingly, trap vibes; and strays from the usual themes pop songs cling on to.
‘Beyonce’ delves into darker topics of bulimia (‘Pretty Hurts’), fears and insecurities (‘Jealous’), miscarriage (‘Heaven’) and her common theme of empowerment (‘Flawless’). The main theme of most songs on the album however, seem to explicitly be discussing sex. From the song ‘Blow’ (“Can you lick my skittles / That’s the sweetest in the middle”, to ‘Partition’ (Oh he so horny, he want to fuck / He Monica Lewinski all on my gown”), to ‘Haunted,’ (“The bedroom’s my runway / Kiss, bite, fuck me”), it’s evident that Beyonce is definitely experimenting with a new form of sexual expression that she seems to be pulling off nicely with the more hip hop infused beats.
The last song on the album features 2 year old daughter, Blue Ivy. However, one can’t help but wonder how Blue will feel at 18, when she realises her musical debut featured on an album where the main theme of most songs was about her parents getting down to it.