‘I really, really wanted to surprise people, and for them really just to hear the art and it not be about the hype and the promotion’ – standing out from the crowd as always, ‘Queen B’ recently reclaimed our ears and our iTunes libraries with an unexpected new album. The self-titled ‘visual project’ came at us without promotion, advertising or even a leaked hint, on the thirteenth of December at midnight the album was released on iTunes and the entire internet erupted with the mind blown tweets, Facebook statuses and blog posts of incredulous fans. It became the highest first-week sales of Beyoncé’s solo career, and the best-selling debut week for a female artist in 2013; six days after release it had sold one million copies worldwide, with iTunes claiming it outsold any album they had ever stocked before.
There are very few artists today who could get away with this kind of stunt, and even fewer who can do so to such extreme success. Beyonce has really become a huge icon, particularly for young girls who look to her as a role model, a position that in general, she copes with brilliantly. Having started her career in former girl group ‘Destiny’s child’, Beyoncé has come a million miles, starting a solo career was probably the best idea she ever had! Emerging as a solo artist took work for the beloved ‘B’, in her recent documentary ‘life is but a dream’ she talks about the difficult and emotional split from her father’s initial management. She also struggled with superficial media criticism of her looks and adjusting to life in the spotlight but over time adapted and has really started to move away from the sexist and controlling music industry to begin in this album singing about personal insecurities and important topics like bulimia and post natal depression. Her style has also come a long way as her first two albums were less well received with more generic pop sounds before she found the fierce voice she is now renowned for.
Although a few critics still attempt to bring her down, suggesting the new album is ‘oversexed’ and ‘full of generic R&B sounds’ they are speaking against a tidal wave of applause. Featuring Jay Z, Drake and Frank Ocean as well as the vocal sounds of new baby Blue Ivy, fans have shown complete adoration for Beyoncé’s recent work. The addition of extra music videos alongside the tracks (in total seventeen) has only added to this appreciation and as well as the beautiful videos, many of the tracks are superb in my opinion! ‘XO’ has to be my top favorite and Spotify ratings suggest a lot of people agree, ‘Drunk in Love’ and ‘Haunted’ have also had fantastic reviews and others like ‘Pretty Hurts’ and ‘Blow’ have been congratulated on addressing themes that are infrequently spoken about. The album has overall amazed it’s audience, described as ‘emotional, dense and substantial but never difficult or self important’, it’s a controversial and surprising mixture of sounds and styles and is definitely worth listening to!