This month, the global superstar has ignited the music scene with the sudden release of her fifth studio album, BEYONCÉ, which once more exhibits her flawless vocals and a rejuvenation of style that comes with each of her albums.
This body of work includes a host of featuring artists, including Frank Ocean, Drake, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s two-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy. According to statements made by Apple in a recent press release, BEYONCÉ now holds the record for the fastest selling album ever on the iTunes Store, attaining the number one spot in 104 countries within its first week.
The incredible success of this album in its initial days of public access demonstrates the superfluous nature of pre-sale publicity for such a unanimously respected artist.
Through this unique release, Beyoncé has temporarily instilled a global sense of unity amongst her fans worldwide, as each discovers her album at once in its entirety. She has stated in a series of videos on her website that she wanted no hype to warp the artistic integrity of her work, and that in the process of current popular music production ‘there’s so much that gets between the music and the artist and the fans’.
Beyoncé cites the unfortunate result of today’s fast-paced technological culture upon art, in that ‘people only listen to a few seconds of a song […] they don’t really invest in a whole album’. She recalls the ‘immersive experience’ of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video, which she remembers as ‘an event’ of her childhood. She references it as inspiration for delivering an entire body of work to her fans in an attempt to display her music in its most unadulterated form.
This sense of direct expression is heightened by the visual aspect of the work, which takes the form of 17 accompanying music videos. Beyoncé has stated that the focus upon the combination of the visual and audio for this album was motivated by a desire for more intimate communication through her music: ‘I wanted people to hear the songs with the story that’s in my head, because that’s what makes it mine’. The videos are all visually stunning, with locations in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, New York and Paris reflecting the global impact and relevance of her work.
Throughout this album, Beyoncé has once again asserted herself as an emblem of current musical evolution. With a number of explicitly themed tracks, this album seems to most potently present a message of adulthood and growth. The track ‘***Flawless’ includes samples of Ed McMahon announcing a performance of the group ‘Girl’s Tyme’, of which Beyoncé was a member as a young girl, on the televised competition ‘Star Search’. This sample provides a more intimate setting and contrast for the tracks which delve into her development, successes and failures.
As well as referencing this early event in her musical and personal progression, Beyoncé also reflects upon her later years of growth, including references to motherhood in the song ‘Blue’, which features her daughter’s voice, and her personal liberation through ‘Grown Woman’. Beyoncé also samples a speech given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche upon the topic of female oppression in ‘***Flawless’, providing Beyoncé’s signature assertion of feminine potency.
Each track is multi-faceted and highly crafted, with notable musical progression allowing for the presentation of Beyoncé’s full range and spectrum of vocal expertise. The exploration of varying styles and genres from hip-hop to African-inspired tracks through her virtuosic and typically anthemic vocals illustrate the unbeatable versatility of this artist and her unquestionable status as a current musical icon.
Image Courtesy: Nat Ch Villa, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license | Wiki Commons