Queen Beyoncé slays all with surpise ‘visual album’
K. Montinola (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2013 - 3:59pm

MANILA, Philippines - When the Queen makes a statement, it doesn’t matter if you’re for the monarchy or not. You pay attention. You listen. And you let your jaw drop.

Last Friday the 13th was many things. The (US) release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Taylor Swift’s birthday. The day after the Scandal finale. The day Lorde dropped her secret single, “No Better.” There could be more, but it doesn’t matter. Because last Friday was Beyoncé Day.

In what is the music world’s surprise of the year, Beyoncé released (more like unleashed) a brand new album into iTunes last Friday without a single announcement, promotion, or warning. The collection, a “visual album” in her namesake that features fourteen songs and at least seventeen videos, hit number one in over a hundred countries on iTunes.

There are also events leading up to the album’s release to consider — how Beyoncé managing to record 14 tracks and film 17 videos — all new and artfully considered content, with stunning visuals in every video and talking about something different in every song, between being on an ongoing world tour hitting 123 countries and raising a small child, without any of it getting leaked to the public is beyond anyone. Except, obviously, Beyoncé.

While the magnitude of the album is nothing to scoff at, what makes the event so explosive is the album’s content. There’s an ample collection of big-name collaborators like Drake and Frank Ocean to be excited about, her husband Jay-Z, and the usual party and unapologetically sexy tracks that will have all fans jumping up and down. But arguably, it is the artful vision of the album as a whole that marks it as awe-inspiring.

“Blow” is a treat for those who are eighties kids like Beyoncé was, celebrating wakened sexuality with roller skates and a lot of neon glow. “Partition” and “Yoncé” are unabashedly racy, with the latter featuring superstar models Chanel Iman, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn. And then there’s “Flawless”, which features a bit of audio from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, noted Nigerian feminist and author of Americanah, and puts out a powerful message; “Blue”, her reflection on the joy of being mother her daughter, Blue Ivy, adorable as ever in the video shot of the two in Brazil; “Drunk In Love” shows that she and Jay-Z continue to be happily, actively married; “Heaven” is a simultaneously heart-breaking and comforting voice about loss; “Pretty Hurts” might be as good an autobiographical peek as any into what growing up a performer must have been like; and “Grown Woman” is a clear reflection of where she’s been and where she’s taken herself.

There’s a lot to take in.

Beyoncé: The Visual Album is definitely a mind-blowing success of identity. In it the seemingly contradictory aspects of a person are seamlessly put together to express the person of Beyoncé. In short, somehow, the album is a cohesive look into what makes Beyoncé Beyoncé, in the here and the now. You don’t have to be Beyoncé to recognize that this is glorious. It’s Beyoncé like you’ve never seen before, but still quintessentially Beyoncé.

Long live the Queen.

ALBUM BEYONC BLUE IVY CHANEL IMAN CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE COPY DESOLATION OF SMAUG DRAKE AND FRANK OCEAN
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