By Carla B.
Bow down to Queen B.!
The new ‘Visual Album’ pushes the envelope creatively. Beyoncé is flawless so no one else in the industry has to be, revealing plenty of what’s in that head of hers…or does it…really?? Its songs are steamy and sleek, full of sexy exploits and sultry vocals with a pro-feminist edge. I can definitely dig it!
In what is being called a ‘game-changing move,’ the album comes complete with seventeen videos already filmed for each track, locked and loaded with 14 tracks and 17 fully-realized music videos, at once. Selling over 80,000 copies in the first three hours of its availability. Beyonce is without a doubt one of the hottest female pop stars of this decade.
So, what’s our take? Read more below:
The Visual Album brims with music that feels surprising and unstable, and some of Beyonce’s most unguarded and daring singing – from the gospel overtones of “Heaven” to the relaxed, jazzy flow of “Mine.” The musical setting of her latest work feels fresher and more off-the-cuff than just about anything she’s done. Drake’s long closing rap hijacks “Mine” and turns it into something very long and drawn out. On the frisky reverie, “Drunk in Love,” Jay Z compares his relationship with Beyonce to Ike and Tina Turner’s. Really? So much for female empowerment. The predictable Ryan Tedder production on “XO” builds from jittery keyboards to an audience-appreciation sing-along that sounds like it was designed for an arena encore. “Blue” will please those eager to hear about how deeply Beyonce loves her child, the new mommy’s club anthem. Blue Ivy contributes some high-pitched “mommy’s” to the track — more notches to her resume and she is only two. I am so jealous — j/k.
RELATED NEWS: Eminem’s ‘Rap God’ – EOTM Music Review
The alum boasts collaborations with Frank Ocean, Miguel, Jay Z, to video director Hype Williams, actor Harvey Keitel and more.
“Pretty Hurts,” a soaring critique of the beauty industry that is enhanced through the ‘Put a Ring on it’ singer. Depicting a beauty pageant contestant as not quite beautiful enough in a world that focuses on a woman’s flaws, and drives her into pill-popping self-abuse — it definitely works.
“Ghost/Haunted” suggests a two-part dream with its murky keys and creeping base. Beyonce’s reverbed vocals emerge from this vaporous backdrop with a sarcastic wink: “Sold not for sale/Probably won’t make no money off this, oh well.”
“Blow” opens with Beyonce as a jazz chanteuse in swan mode over sparse piano chords, then shifts into a swinging electro-funk groove. As discursive as “Blow” is insistent, the melody of “No Angel” slinks over a minimalist beat and takes its time introducing a subtle counterpoint bass line, while Beyonce sings at the very top of her range, threatening to crackle. “Underneath the pretty face is something complicated,” she informs her roguish lover. “I come with a side of trouble.”
“Partition” finds Beyonce rapping over an Eastern rhythm as if paying homage to those that came before her…and it works. Just as steamy is the slow-burning “Rocket,” which acknowledges another obvious influence, D’Angelo. The girl shoal can sing.
Throughout, the singer demands to be treated as an equal in the boardroom and the bedroom, a woman who gets fierce whenever she’s taken for granted (“Jealous”) and positively smolders when feeling the strength of a true union (the marvelous duet with Ocean, “Superpower”).
Best of all is “Flawless” spikes a clattering beat and instructions to “Bow down, bitches; in the video, Beyonce dances to a hard hip-hop rhythm like a flannel-shirted punk-rocker while the soothing voice of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discourses on the limitations imposed on young women: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.’” If you are too successful “you threaten the man.” The merger of trap beats, punk defiance and feminist theory may not be destined for the top 10, but boldness like this can’t be measured by chart positions.
RELATED NEWS: Blue Ivy and Beyoncé in Australia – Photos
Other Directors featured on the music videos include Detail, Jake Nava, Terry Richardson, Melina Matsoukas, Jonas Åkerlund, Ricky Saiz, Pierre Debusschere, @lilinternet, Francesco Carrozzini, Ed Burke, Bill Kirstein and Todd Tourso. “Grown Woman,” initially previewed via Pepsi’s global spot with Beyonce in April, is featured as a “bonus” video-only cut, directed by Nava.
Out of the possible 5 stars — we give it 3 1/2 stars — making it a winner, in my book.
Here is the full track list.
1. Pretty Hurts
3. Drunk in Love (feat. Jay Z)
5. No Angel
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
11. ***Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)