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Queen B stings again with stellar album

I was one of the millions of “Beyhive” fans who immediately downloaded Beyoncé’s new visual album upon its surprising release last month. In true Queen B fashion, the record’s announcement was made on Instagram without any other prior promotions or fanfare of any sort. The musical genius bestowed upon her fans 14 songs and 17 music videos, all in one. Due to the album’s abrupt release, Beyoncé set the social media world on fire. In her self-titled fifth studio album, she once again proves that she is truly a living legend.

There is no denying that this is Beyoncé’s most personal album to date. She not only taps into
themes of female-empowerment, insecurities and sexuality, but also uses her status as a new mother to enrich her lyrics and emotional intensity. She has poured her mind, body, and soul into this record, which is an instant classic. Moreover, the videos that accompany the songs tell a story of strength, perseverance, and dedication that gives further insight into the artist’s complexity and craftsmanship.

She shows that in some ways, she is just like us. She struggles with jealousy, loss, and pain in the same way we do. At the heart of “BEYONCÉ” is the message that we are all flawed individuals, but that these flaws make us human.

The two lead singles, “Drunk in Love” (featuring Jay-Z) and “XO,” shed further light on these themes. “Drunk in Love” explores the love that a woman feels towards her man. It is really about the commitment that is shared between two parties. The up tempo trap beats and bass instrumentals make the song come alive. Jay-Z does not disappoint as he raps his way through professing his love for Beyoncé.

“XO,” on the other hand, offers a nifty pop vibe that makes it a surefire hit for radio listeners. This track covers the love that Queen B feels towards not only her friends and family but also her fans. There was some controversy over Beyoncé’s decision to sample recordings from the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger catastrophe in 1986, but it seems clear that “XO” was not intended to offend the families affected by the disaster, especially since the song strikes an uplifting and hopeful chord throughout.

Among the album’s other notable tracks, “Pretty Hurts” is a song that every girl can relate to, as it addresses the beauty industry. The desire of perfection is captured by lyrics like “Pretty hurts/ we shine the light on whatever’s worse/you’re tryna fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see/ it’s the soul that needs the surgery” As women today are bombarded with images of beautiful models, actresses and singers; the song is all about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. An accompanying video offers additional depth to this heartfelt tune as it depicts Beyoncé as an aspiring beauty queen who is addicted to diet pills. The video chronicles Beyoncé’s journey as she competes in the pageant and ultimately loses the crown. That said, “Pretty Hurts” is bigger than the entertainment industry. Society continues to set standards of beauty that are not practical for women to meet, and Queen B takes a stand against the dangerous attitudes that we see in every billboard and magazine cover we encounter.

Another fan favorite is “Mine” featuring Drake. The song not only has a jazz-like flow but also includes some elements of African beats. This is a rather personal record, as Beyoncé stakes a claim to her partner in life. Beyoncé also briefly mentions her doubts about motherhood and marriage. The collaboration between Drake and Beyoncé is impeccable, as their voices mesh well together. It’s catchy in nature, and by the end of the song, it’s evident that there is hope for the future.

“***Flawless” featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a feminist anthem. It is aggressive lyrically and both Beyoncé and Adichie are passionate about female empowerment. Adichie is a
Nigerian writer who is known for her TED talk about feminists. Beyoncé states that “I know that when you were little girls/ you dreamt of being in my world/don’t forget it, don’t forget it…” “Flawless” is all about standing up for yourself and not making any apologies for who you are. The inclusion of Adichie’s speech “We should all be feminists” sheds light on the double standards regarding men and women. She states, “Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and not teach boys the same?” There is no arguing that Beyoncé and Adichie are the coolest feminists ever.

“Heaven” and “Blue” are some of the most memorable ballads on the album. “Heaven” is rather somber as it tackles the issue of death. It’s about the closure that one comes to feel and
accept once death has occurred. It is about taking heart in that the person lost lived an incredible life. “Blue” featuring Blue Ivy Carter instantly melts the heart. Beyoncé professes her love for her baby girl. Blue is not only her best friend but also the artist’s inspiration. The video for this track was shot in Brazil and it features Blue. There are instances where Beyoncé carries Blue. There is another adorable scene in which Queen Bee is holding on to Blue by the beach. The most precious part of the entire song is the outro, in which Blue voice echoes as she says, “Hold on to me, hold on, mami, mami.”

Beyoncé once again proves that she is a force to be reckoned with, as she delivers an amazing album. She has left her “Beyhive” speechless.


Published January 13, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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