Beyonce comes back with her new record as one of a select few pop stars who is not afraid of trying something different in the music industry.
In this era, when people only buy their favorite tracks from an album, it is hard to see a record succeed both critically and commercially. Based on that, and on the fact that no kind of promotion was made before its release, Beyonce has achieved stellar accomplishments, holding the record for the fastest selling album in iTunes history.
As always, Beyonce captures different elements, sounds and influences in every record she makes. But unlike any of her previous work, she explores a darker side of herself in tracks like “Partition” and “Rocket” with explicit lyrics about sex. There are also moments of empowerment: “Pretty Hurts” — the opening track — delivers her best vocals, singing about the fascination with female perfection and how it’s problematic.
The album, which features Justin Timberlake (as producer), Drake and Frank Ocean, also has participation by her husband, Jay Z, in “Drunk In Love”, and 2-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, in “Blue.” This last song is the one that makes the album more special and personal in my opinion, since it is the first dedicated to her child.
The best thing about the visual album is that anyone can see how great Beyonce is as an artist — one who does not make music or videos for sales and hype. She debuted all 17 videos at once along with the songs, and she designed each of them to be unique.
The art of the song comes alive because it blends the songs and the concept of the album, which is imperfection.
Amazing directors — such as Terry Richardson and Jonas Akerlund — manage to show not only innovative dance moves like in “Flawless,” directed by Jake Nava, but also how Beyonce was born to be a leader and bring cultures together, like in the video for “No Angel,” shot in Houston (her hometown), and in the video for “Blue,” filmed in Brazil during her last visit to the country with The Mrs. Carter Show Tour.
Beyonce’s self-titled album is ultimate proof of her evolution as a singer. Since the release of her debut album, “Dangerously In Love,” in 2003, the world has seen her brilliant growth as a songwriter, as a producer and — most importantly — as an artist. The incredible impact that it caused in December was not just because no one expected it, but also because of its quality and how it connects with people.
Follow Germano Berca on Twitter: @germanobb
As published in the Jan. 16 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.