Release date: December 13, 2013
Genre: Contemporary R&B // Alternative R&B
Mood: Dramatic, Passionate, Intimate
Beyoncé was 32 years old at the time of this albums release. It is her fifth studio album.
BEYONCÉ is post-Run the World (Girls) and pre-Formation. This album was a surprise drop, meaing that there was no promotion before its release! This was a highly unusual move for any mega-popstar. It had five singles: XO, Drunk in Love, Partition, Pretty Hurts, and the Flawless remix with Nicki Minaj.
The first 346 days of Beyoncé's 2013 were eventful enough. She headlined the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, joined by Destiny's Child partners Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. [...] A documentary, Life Is But a Dream, aired on HBO. There were appearances on albums by Rowland, the-Dream, and husband Jay-Z, as well as a Soundcloud upload "Bow Down/I Been On," passionately debated for its aggression and vulgarity, and the more "ladylike" "Standing on the Sun," a clothing retailer tie-in. And then, on December 13, while engaged in a world tour and when no one expected it, she released her fifth solo studio album with accompanying videos.
In the YouTube docu-series on the album, Beyoncé said that she wanted to simply give this album to her fans, the way she wanted to give it. She wanted a music video for every song on the album, and she wanted all the music videos released at the same time as the album. She said that people thought she was crazy. This interesting risk paid off; critics and fans were immediately praising the visual album.
The album's "Music and lyrics" section from its wikipedia page describes the various sounds from this amazing album very well:
BEYONCÉ's vocal production is diverse; several songs are half-rapped and half-sung with particular use of falsetto and head voice. The Telegraph's Neil McCormick notes that while the singer uses her expansive vocal range, unlike her previous releases, she restrains from belting and vocal runs as to increase tension in the music. "No Angel", a chillwave song with influences of minimalist hip hop music, is noted for its use of the falsetto vocal register, with a delivery that is "threatening to fray". The doo wop-inspired duet with Frank Ocean "Superpower" is sung in the lower register of both singers, while employing girl group harmonies similar to Beyoncé's work in Destiny's Child. The love song "XO" uses several vocal techniques to evoke a celebration of love and life, including echo and several hooks. Its ascending chorus lines use call and response, as well as backing vocals of a sing-along crowd, as Beyoncé sings of how her "darkest nights" are enlightened by her lover's face. The album's closing tracks are midtempo ballads "Heaven" and "Blue". "Heaven" is an emotive, piano-led hymn with gospel elements, while "Blue" is built on a piano melody over which Beyoncé sings of the love for her daughter, using her full vocal range.
BEYONCÉ debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 upon its digital release on iTunes. As the albums' wikipedia page states: "The album sold over 617,000 copies in the United States and 828,773 copies worldwide in its first three days of sales, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store up to that point."
I recommend listening to this album by watching it, as Beyoncé intended it to be consumed. Here is a YouTube playlist listing all the music videos made for BEYONCÉ in order of its track listing.
If that's a hard pass, then at least check out her song/video Grown Woman, which for some insane reason was taken off the BEYONCÉ tracklist before the albums' release.
- Did you enjoy this album? Why or why not?
- Which tracks stood out to you from this album and why?
- Do you like this artist? Why or why not? Where does this project stand in their discography?
- What are some other works you enjoy from this genre or era? How does this album differ from the others in its field?