Beyonce has released her brand new album without warning, secretly unleashing her highly anticipated fifth LP online at midnight. The Grammy award-winning artist released her self-titled ‘visual album’ at 12:00am on Friday 13 December, a fourteen-track record paired with seventeen exquisitely-shot videos of the ever-evolving Mrs Carter. The unannounced release caused iTunes to struggle as millions attempted to download the two versions of the album immediately.
The 32-year-old released a statement in time with the album’s midnight release, headed with the words “Surprise!” Beyonce’s team have skipped the usual press hype-up, with the singer’s aim made plain, “I am able to speak directly to my fans.” Beyonce takes cues from David Bowie and My Chemical Romance, who both released albums without warning in recent years.
Brimming with cameos and special guests, the album features husband Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, even daughter Blue Ivy makes an appearance. Both audio versions of Beyonce’s self-titled album are sitting at the top of the iTunes chart within 24 hours of its release, a PG-rated and an explicit version. Billboard is already projecting a number one spot for the surprise guest on the charts.
The real hype, however, is circling around the album’s visual component. In conjunction with her fourteen-track, self-titled album, Beyonce has released a seventeen video clips to complete the “visual album” package. Attempting to create a more visceral experience for fans beyond MP3 singles, the move can be compared to Childish Gambino‘s recent release Because The Internet, which required a screenplay and Instagram clips to complete the picture, or to Beck, whose Song Reader release didn’t contain any audio at all, simply sheet music. Beyonce’s reasoning for the “visual album” goes way back, attributing the “visual album” project to her love of Michael Jackson‘s 13-minute groundbreaking Thriller experience.
“I miss that immersive experience,” she says. “Now people only listen to a few seconds of song on the iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience. It’s all about the single, and the hype. It’s so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
Beyonce has released a host of exclusive thirty-second video clips to gear up fans for the “visual album”. She states, “I see music. It’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music.”
Check out Beyonce‘s exclusive clips from the “visual album” right here…
“Drunk In Love”
“Superpower” feat. Frank Ocean
“Mine” feat. Drake
Beyonce is out now on iTunes.
– Chris Kim & Shannon Connellan for The Untitled Magazine.