Album review: Beyoncé – Beyoncé


What the hell Beyoncé – was my first reaction when I read that pop superstar Beyoncé released her 5th self-titled album overnight. Completely unannounced. It consists of 14 tracks and seventeen music videos. SEVENTEEN. I’m not even a big fan of Beyonce (I literally cannot be bothered to type/copy and paste the acute accent above the ‘e’ in Beyonce every single time). You’ve gotta tip your hat, seventeen videos by standards of any artist in the world is a seriously admirable and impressive feat.
Considering I hardly ever buy music anymore because I’ve got a Spotify premium account, I’ve never invested £12.99 so blindly. With 30+ items however, you can’t exactly go wrong.

She performed at the Superbowl in February, is currently on an extensive worldwide tour, released a documentary as well as being a wife and mother, and now this. How she’s summoned the time I don’t know.
My other reaction to Beyonce releasing an album unannounced, was the influence Kanye West must have had on that decision. Earlier this year Kanye released his 6th album ‘Yeezus‘, with no artwork, and no previously released singles. It’s a brave move for both of them. It also displays how much trust their respective record labels and publishers have in them to do so.

Sonically: My initial impression of the album is that I’m disappointed, with ‘Pretty Hurts‘, ‘Blow‘ and previously titled ‘Bow Down’ now called ‘***Flawless’ being the exceptions. It’s slow, boring. Very urban, quite Rihanna-like in places.
I couldn’t help but notice that Drake has writing credits for ‘Mine’, which I suspected. As soon as I heard ‘Stop making a big deal out of the little things, cause I got big deals and I got little things’, I was like….. that’s so Drake-like.
Blow is THE JAM, that Timbaland breakdown is the shizzle.
This is what my iTunes rating looks like;
Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 14.33.44

Visually, I’m taken back. There’s a variety of ideas between each song, simple concepts with very strong visuals. Again, I see Rihanna swagger influences on ‘Drunk in Love’ and ‘***Flawless’, with fashion hints of Gaga in there too. There’s not a bad video on the album, but I did find myself skipping through Superpower, Heaven and Blue purely because the songs are so dull.
It’s nice to see cameos from former DC groupies Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, as well as sister Solange and mother Tina Knowles. The great thing about the visual side of the album is that it’s makes me appreciate the songs a little bit more, it gives context and vision to the lyrics. The roller rink video to Blow actually reminds me of a 80’s neon version of Kelis – Good Stuff.
My favourites are: ***Flawless, Blow, Ghost, Pretty Hurts and Haunted. I’d say Mine too, although I don’t understand what it’s trying to portray to be honest.

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 15.31.22

Overall though, it’s more layered and textured than ‘4’, but it’s not any better. It’s no Dangerously in Love or Sasha Fierce, there’s no quality hit songs. Where is Standing on the Sun? Why isn’t Grown Woman a featured song when it’s practically the best? I sense the feeling she’s wanting to claim back some ground, to reinvent herself, to prove she’s on the same level as her peers. If you’re not creating the music to represent that though, the hype of surprise will all but be forgotten too quickly. Which I fear might happen.

Is this a game changing decision?, or a lesson that we shouldn’t impulsively buy when it could very well be crap?
Oh, and I love the fact that today is Taylor Swift’s birthday. I’d imagine Kanye West being like “Yo, I’m gonna let you finish but Beyonce just released her new album”. Oh Kanye.

Sonically: 6.5/10. Visually 8/10

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