Album Review: Beyoncé - 'Beyoncé' - Celebrity Bug


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Album Review: Beyoncé - 'Beyoncé'

Beyonce (Album Cover) photo beyonce-new-album.jpg

With no promotion, no single release and seemingly no warning, Beyoncé surprised the world last week by releasing her self-titled fifth studio album exclusively to iTunes.

The album follows ‘4’, her 2011 studio effort, which despite its critical-acclaim and Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Love On Top”) is viewed as somewhat of a commercial disappointment, producing no Top 10 singles and selling only a million units in the states as opposed to its predecessor’s three million.

Never one to conform, the superstar takes yet another risk and it results in her most thought-provoking, unconventional and complete collection to date; and with very few of the offerings arising as sure fire single contenders, the album places its focus on expressing her artistic vision in unfamiliar ways and delivering powerful messages.

On the opening track, “Pretty Hurts”, she tackles the insecurities that come with striving for perfection and the disease that can develop within individuals trying to obtain it.

This uncertainty is even more glaring on “Jealous”, which sees one of the world’s most-revered and desired women admit that she too gets angry and worries about where her man is. Still, despite those insecurities that only make her feel more relateable, her sexuality has never been as accessible as it is here and it serves as a blueprint to some of her best moments, such as, the Pharrell Williams-produced “Blow”, which standouts among the fourteen tracks with its throwback seventies vibe and memorable one liners.

“Can you lick my skittles / That's the sweetest in the middle / Pink that's the flavor / Solve the riddle”, she coos on the song about oral sex. The equally tantalizing “Rocket” soars and stands as one of her best vocal moments, while the magical “XO”, a co-creation between Ryan Tedder and Terius ‘The Dream’ Nash, finds the star enthralled in the realms of love and marks the disc’s most-radio equipped moment.

Other cuts, such as the Jay Z-assisted “Drunk In Love”, the Drake-featured “Mine” and the bouncy “Partition”, are more in the lane of what we have come to expect from pop music’s top diva, but the same cannot be said for other tracks as they get more experimental sonically. On the daring “Haunted”, she blasts her record label (“I don’t trust these record labels / I’m touring”) and employs a ghostly vocal style; the breathy “No Angel” makes it clear that marriage is always a work in progress; and the Frank Ocean-duet “Superhuman” is an inescapable force of nature.

In many cases, these tracks are enhanced by their respective music videos featured on the visual part of the album and quite frankly, through the visuals they become more understandable or at least makes the picture more vivid.

On “***Flawless”, she redeems herself on by transforming the once offensive lyrics of “Bow Down” into a full blown female empowerment anthem with some help from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. It morphs into quite a contrast from the initial version by taking a stand against feminism and aiming to create a sense of sisterhood.

The two closing tracks, “Heaven” and “Blue”, see her dealing with love lost and the indescribable bond she shares with her baby girl Blue Ivy, respectively. The toddler can be heard at the end of the latter track, capping off the journey of her fifth solo album that saw her fully embrace her insecurities, allow herself to be vulnerable and experience growth as an artist, a wife, a mother and a woman, and suddenly, because of her brave display on ‘Beyoncé’, being imperfect seems perfectly fine and acceptable.

4 OUT OF 5

Celebrity Bug’s Key Tracks
“Pretty Hurts”, “Drunk In Love”, “Blow”, “Rocket”, “Mine”, “XO” and “Superhuman”.

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