One more thing to add to the list of Mrs Carter’s achievements: she’s world class at keeping a secret. At midnight on 13th December Beyoncé’s fifth album manifested itself on iTunes. No hype. No rumours. No advertising. The world simply woke up to an unexpectedly experimental set of songs, all accompanied by brand spanking new videos. As Queen Bey puts it, ‘a visual album’.
Collaborators include Frank Ocean, Drake, of course hubby Jay Z, and even a few cute words and gargles from baby Blue Ivy. Beyoncés capcity for intellectual adornment is as sharp as ever with a slice of acclaimed Nigerian novelist. Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche’s TED speech about female empowerment.
Despite Beyoncé arriving out of a clear blue sky, maybe we were given hints of a new album with her contribution to recent H&M and Pepsi advert campaigns. And the new songs here do seem to follow on from previous work. “Drunk In Love” featuring Jay-Z being might be a continuation of “Crazy In Love”. There is much retro-osity as she maintains her RnB credibility with tracks such as “Rocket” which feels like something that Destiny’s Child might have produced. We get our fix of steamy lyrics from “ Blow ”, which is similar to “Radio” on the Sasha Fierce album, and “Jealous” is comparable to “If I Were A Boy”.
Some of the accompanying videos could also have come from Destiny’s Child but the notion of a visual representation of each song did become a bit repetitive after watching two or three. We have all seen a Beyoncé video. Now we’ve seen some more. The fact that you can only buy the album as a whole and not purchase individual tracks says something about Beyoncé wanting to produce a coherent work of art. But within that, the opening track, “Pretty Hurts”, has potential to become the next generic club song. Personally, “Blue” is the catchiest and the one which stays with you longest, despite her giving the impression that she is the first person who has even given birth. But what does a critic’s view matter? Despite the sudden appearance of Beyoncé, it went straight to number one on the day of release, even so it’s probably only number three out her five albums.