Beyonce, pictured performing during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVII, dropped a surprise album on her fans Thursday night – but what isn’t as shocking is how good it is.
Beyonce — one of pop’s most exposed star — has somehow found a way to show us yet another side.
In her new CD, the emphatically named “BEYONCE,” the R&B warrior queen gives her music a soft new focus. In song after song, she drapes herself over the music with an insinuating sensuality. The beats, too, have a hazier texture, and proceed at a slower pace, the better to let the music last longer.
Beyonce via Instagram
Beyonce, you have our attention. The singer surprised fans with the unexpected release of her fifth new album on Friday the 13th, having made no announcement beforehand. The 32-year-old dropped her self-titled “video album” on iTunes, which not only features 14 new songs but 17 videos as well. “I see music,” the Texas native said about the album’s visual element. “It’s more than just what I hear.”
The mood draws on the warmth and mystery of trance music, enveloped in an echo which recalls subdued production sounds used by Phil Collins in the early 1980s.
Beyoncé’s new album release also features videos for all of the tracks, including ‘No Angel.’
For a woman who made her name on strident declarations and forthright vocal flourishes, all this makes for a sweet change. But it doesn’t come out of nowhere. On Bey’s last CD, “4,” she began to add more ballads and allowed more vulnerability shade her tough persona. But the new disc maintains its mood more consistently, and risks a more down-tempo focus.
Not that Beyonce has turned in any way wimpy. Key parts of the disc show her assertion by letting her thrash about in the sheets — as well as many other places. In “Drunk In Love” she gets down with hubby Jay Z. For “No Angel,” she plays erotic devil, while in “Rocket” she sings, “Let me sit this a– on you” to a distinct R&B grind.
Beyoncé enlists her daughter’s help in the ‘Blue’ preview video.
That last track has some vintage Marvin Gaye eroticism to the melody without resorting to recycling his sound. Much of the music has a freshness to it, combining African beats with muted modern hip-hop, the latter element most obvious in her track with Drake (“Mine”).
Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z, joins in on the track, ‘Drunk In Love.’
In another innovation, the release features videos for all the songs. Many illustrate the free sexuality of the music — and all make good use of Beyonce’s fantasy-fulfilling beauty. The clips also help flesh out the lyrics, such as in “Pretty Hurts” — a song about the perils of perfectionism that depicts a bitchy beauty contest.
She’s not in full roar on “BEYONCE,” but by hearing a different muse, she gives fans much more to listen to.
Beyoncé’s ‘Pretty Hurts’ is a track about the perils of perfectionism in the guise of a bitchy beauty contest.
And those fans are responding: Beyonce’s album release generated over 1.2 million tweets in its first 12 hours.
That’s even more than the Twitter activity generated by Syfy’s record-setting “Sharknado” — evidence that Beyonce is not only a pop star, but lives somewhere near the center of the pop culture universe.