How’s everyone’s Beyonceday hangover going? Still in the haze that is Queen B? As you probably know, Mrs. Carter dropped a surprise record on Thursday night, exclusively on iTunes, complete with a visual album that included music videos for every single track.
I feel like it’s going to be one of those events where you ask people, ‘Where were you when Beyonce was released?’ I was sitting on my couch watching Parenthood, looking at the Scandal live tweets on my iPad, and checking Instagram on my phone (yes, I’m insane) when I noticed B had posted a video with a caption that said ‘Surprise’ and included footage I’d never seen before. Then I went on social media. Slowly but surely, my feeds were being filled with the word BEYONCE, and people were going nuts.
A few things about this release that fascinated me:
A) How did she even get away with recording/filming all these without anyone leaking it?
Apparently only the people who needed to know (producers, songwriters, studio execs, etc.) knew about the album, and it also went under a code name called ‘Lily’. There was a shifting deadline and she didn’t even finish recording until the week of Thanksgiving. As for the music videos, a lot of the dancers are her own dancers from her tour, but for example in XO, she’s clearly in an amusement park with fans and I wonder if they thought they were just being filmed for fun? Or because it’s Beyonce they didn’t care as long as they got a pic of her?
B) She most likely made more off this album than if she actually marketed and promoted it.
Besides Grown Woman and Bow Down, which are bonus video clips, all these tracks are brand new to our ears. None were released as singles, which is obviously the tradition in which artists sell their upcoming records. Beyonce is so ‘Beyonce’ that she knows she doesn’t have to pre-promote her album, because people will buy it anyways. It’s the definition of a Bad Bitch. She also explained the whole
“I miss that immersive experience. Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on the iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience. It’s all about the single, and the hype. It’s so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
After I read that, I was like, wow that is so true. I judge whether or not I’m going to buy the album based on if I like the single or not. It’s never about the package as a whole, which is how I think most *true* artists want you to intake their music. They’re not out there to make just one song, they’re making music for you to hear an entire story.
Same goes for the music videos she made – I watched it in order, like it was a Beyonce movie and it totally changed the way I listen to some of her songs. It’s exactly what she said a ‘visual album’. My current fave song is Blow (which is apparently going to be the first single), and after seeing her on roller skates, it hard not to picture it when listening to the song, but it’s the perfect vibe for it.
C) She’s changed the music industry
B single-handedly changed the game. She revolutionized it. She essentially proved that as long as you have a loyal (and large) fanbase that can spread the news quickly, artists don’t necessarily need to spend months doing promo and releasing a single, etc. in order to sell thousands of records. This tactic obviously wouldn’t have worked even 10 years ago. Example: It’s 2003, midnight EST, 9pm PST, Beyonce announced on her MySpace page that she has a new album coming out when the doors to your favorite record store open the next morning, so go and get it. And then tell all your friends. No it wouldn’t have worked. But Beyonce is the first person – and person with enough clout – in this new era of technology and social media and iTunes to come up with the idea and actually follow through. It’s genius. I wouldn’t be surprised if other artists try to attempt something like this from now on.
Alright, enough with the logistics (can you tell I was a marketing/PR major in college?). Is all the hype even worth it? I say yes, yes it is. And here are the reasons why.
+ Her blatant Benjamin Button-ing.
Like how is this woman getting older yet not aging? I really don’t understand. There are shots in these vids where she looks like she’s a teenager. Even in the Grown Woman video where she and Kelly are recreating home videos, it just looks like she got taller. I need your secrets, oh wise one.
+ Being boss enough to get the best people in the biz to work on the album
List of artists who wrote, produced (or both), directed on this record include but are not limited to: Jay Z (obvs), Justin Timberlake, Miguel, Ryan Tedder, Sia, Drake, Frank Ocean, Pharrell and Timbaland. I’ll just pick those names back up for you.
+ The ability to look sexy without looking slutty.
In the music video for Partition, she basically dresses up as a stripper for her Boo, in this case, Jay Z, who is actually in the vid playing her paramour, but they barely show his face. The fact is, her butt is literally going up and down a velvet rope type apparatus and not once did I think it was disgusting.
+ General ability to make any pose or dance move look really cool and not stupid
Let’s be 1000% honest with ourselves here, folks. If any of us tried to do this pose on half a chaise lounge, we would fall flat on our face and possibly/probably injure something obscure like a pinky, because that’s just how you landed.
+ Everything about the song ***Flawless
The two previous bullet points being said, all in all, don’t confuse Beyonce for a submissive woman. She is a ‘grown ass woman’ who is in actuality a feminist who just happens to have a husband. She doesn’t need him, she does good enough on her own.
In this song, B includes audio from writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s ‘We should all be feminists’ TED talk.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but no too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. A marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
+ Throwing shade at Skeleton Crew
In the same ***Flawless video, it starts off with a short clip from when B and Kelly (and former DC member Lativia) were in a group called Girls Tyme, which lost to a white group of male rockers named Skeleton Crew.
Girls Tyme ended up getting a 3.00 in this competition (view the performance here) but the fact that Bey even decided to put this clip of them losing is everything. Skeleton Crew, what do you have to say for yourselves now?
+ Featuring her 13-month-old daughter on a track
We all know B & Jay are usually on the low about their private life, especially when it comes to Blue Ivy. But this time, Beyonce not only dedicated an entire song to their daughter, but had Blue sing/speak on it too. For the record, if this album wins any Grammys, Blue will be a Grammy winner at the age of like 3. Blue says something to the effect of, “Hold on to me, hold on / Been-say / Been-say / Mami, mami, mami.” We get it. You’re cute.
+ Making roller skating look awesome
Not since Jessica Simpson’s Public Affair had this kind of influence on me and my desire to go put on some skates and dance around the rink with my besties and some hot pants on. The Blow music video is everything I could ask for and more.
+ Possibly probably being actually drunk for Drunk in Love
The classic B/Jay duet on the album, Drunk in Love, features Beyonce dancing and rolling on the beach, and Jay shows up with a drink in hand and it’s amazing. It’s like a TV bottle episode where they only use one set and all the magic happens there. I hope they were actually drunk, because you know, method acting.
+ Dancing with actual supermodels and still being the flyest of them all
In the gangsta track Yonce, B recruited models Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, and Chanel Iman, but all I kept looking at was Beyonce and her grill and the red .. what seemed to parts of a Herve Leger dress but made into faux swimsuit.
+ Just generally being sexy
It is absolutely absurd that a woman can have this kind of effect on straight men, straight women, gay women AND gay men. She’s defying the odds. Rocket, probs the sexiest song off the record, provides a look into her boudoir – and guess who wrote this jam? None other than the sex singing god himself, Miguel.
+ Guerrilla style filmmaking and freaking fans out
In the XO vid, it looks like she basically ambushed an amusement park (or possibly the Santa Monica pier?) and walked the streets and got people’s natural reactions. You’ve been hit by – you’ve been struck by – a smooth criminal.
+ The art
When Beyonce says she has a visual album, it’s a visual album. The entire album is aesthetically pleasing, but especially in the video for Ghost. The stark quality makes you focus on what she has to say, instead of any other hoopla, and boy does she have things to say.
+ Guest stars galore
Not only does the song Superpower feature Frank Ocean, there’s a small DC3 reunion happening and it’s so subtle that only a few people are talking about it. Pharrell also appears in the same video, and in the first track, Pretty Hurts, Harvey Keitel (movie mobster, also Vince LaRocca from Sister Act) shows up randomly as the beauty pageant host.