New album by Beyonce is full of vocal and visual surprises

Erin Johnsrud, Staff Writer

With Beyonce’s latest self-titled album, came an unprecedented occurrence. It wasn’t just like any other album release. There was no marketing through interviews on the music networks and no Rolling Stone cover. There was no pre-release single for radio play. It was exclusively dropped on iTunes.

Every single song on this album is blessed with Beyoncé’s best vocal work ever, whether she’s going for a powerhouse R&B Diva or using a soft, breathy falsetto. Notable collaborations on “Beyoncé” are with hubby Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, and Justin Timberlake and even daughter Blue Ivy. The album itself is full of sexual overtones, occasionally bordering on TMI, with arguably her most sexually-explicit songs to-date.

That being said, it steers clear of raunchy. Songs like Mine featuring Drake, Superpower, an almost old school or Motown throwback featuring Frank Ocean, Rocket and Drunk in Love featuring Jay Z are tracks fans could listen to with their special someone. And ladies, next time you’re getting ready for a date with your man, listen to Partition, another sexy let’s-get-it-on song from the album. I’m betting you and your man will both be glad you did.

“Beyonce” has more to offer than just sexy. It has some pretty insightful songs as well, that deliver a message without getting all preachy. Pretty Hurts, for example, is a song about inner beauty that I challenge any woman not to relate to. Jealous is another track that has some “Wow, that hits home” lyrics with lines like, “And I love making you jealous but don’t judge me” and “And I know that I’m being hateful but that ain’t nothing/I’m just jealous/I’m just human).

“***Flawless,” one of my favorite songs on the album, features a monologue from Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The message that song delivers to women, combined with a ridiculously good beat – is sheer musical perfection.

There’s plenty of upbeat fun to be had on this album as well, with tracks like Blow (don’t bother fighting not dancing when you’re listening to it), XO, Yonce (the interlude to Partition), No Angel, and Blue (in which Blue Ivy’s giggles close out the song).

The video portion of the album, is every bit as good as the audio. Each clip is unique and they range from neon-dance/roller-skating fun to legitimately frightening with the track Haunted.

Time magazine has called this album “One of pop music’s most important moments.” This is an album that gets better with every play, and is well worth your time (and money) to listen to (and watch.)  If you haven’t already, download it or buy on CD or DVD. It’s worth every penny of the extra cost to enjoy both the audio and visual aspects of this absolutely brilliant album.