It was arguably Christmas come early for die-hard fans as news spread that the Queen of Pop had dropped an album overnight. A self-titled visual album with a video accompanying each song overtook iTunes; the only publicity used to advertise the album on release day was every header on the iTunes homepage, linking us to perhaps the biggest surprise release of the year.
But does the music back it up? Not a self-proclaimed die-hard fan, I was very much interested to see what the hype was about. The album starts with Mrs Carter stating that her aspiration in life is “to be happy”, an arguably emotional start before dropping into the first track Pretty Hurts, which is a soft and moody beginning.
The album seems to definitely be affected by a darker and more atmospheric tone to the R&B that I had previously been exposed to - an R&B similar to that of The Weeknd in the way that it’s moodier and more dubstep-like influences are definitely present. It’s a change that I very much support. We are provided with music that definitely backs up the ‘Beyoncé hype’ as it were, with Mrs Carter not only reasserting her status as pop royalty, but proving that she is such for a reason; Queen B achieved such status by working hard as indicated in Flawless. We experience a lot less of the ballad, and instead are thrown into a slow and seductive rhythmic type of hip hop, as depicted in songs No Angel and Jealous.
The content is extremely raunchy and sex-heavy. Most of the album is considerably explicit. The song Blow is certainly not about household chores, and despite being a new mother, Beyoncé is not ready to submit to the traditional mothering role and give up her position as a female icon. This feminist notion is an undercurrent throughout, as she confidently asserts that a woman can be both a mother, a pop icon, a wife and her own person.
I would say that thoughout there are several songs on the album I enjoy, yet in the middle they seem to blend into one long track; albeit a 25 minute long track of very good vocals and interesting lyrics, it does get a tad same-y. Perhaps that’s because I’m not an educated Beyoncé follower, and perhaps 25 minutes of the same song is actually perfectly acceptable/preferable to those that are.
Regardless, it certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to enjoy an album so laden in sexual content and drowsy R&B melodies. Songs such as Partition are definitely a world away from what I normally find myself listening to, and yet the upbeat, sassy, hip hop track is probably one of my most listened to songs in the past few weeks. My take on this album is that it is groundbreaking, in the way that it was released, in the visual content provided, and in the sense that it is from a working mother in the pop industry. For those already converted, it’s a dream come true, and for those alien to the genre, it definitely goes a long way in beginning your conversion, if not fully converting you. As far as the world of pop is concerned, Beyoncé does seem flawless. As she herself states, she could sneeze on the beat, and it would get ‘sickah’.