by Geneva Gleason
It was the middle of the night on a Thursday when Beyoncé released BEYONCÉ, an album that poses a very important question to the music industry, straight from Beyoncé herself: what is the future of music?
BEYONCÉ is dubbed a “visual album” and consists of 14 songs and 17 videos. It was dropped on Dec. 13 sans marketing, singles or hype, which was entirely Beyoncé’s intent. Said Beyoncé in the album’s introductory video, “I wanted people to hear the music with the story that’s in my head, because that’s what makes it mine.”
From the first song, “Pretty Hurts,” BEYONCÉ makes a feminist statement. The track serves as a commentary on society’s perception of beauty and how it affects young women. Coming from Beyoncé, this song hits especially hard; through her career, she experienced incredible scrutiny from the media for weight fluctuations, so hearing her sing, “It’s my soul that needs a surgery,” sends a message that won’t be soon forgotten.
Beyond radiating empowerment with every lyric, this album, Beyoncé’s fifth studio record, is by far her most musically developed. “XO,” the album’s tenth track, is an upbeat ballad reminiscent of Bastille’s “Pompeii.” It is immediately followed by “***Flawless,” a track that features Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which the two boldly repeat, “Flawless, I woke up like this,” to a pounding hip-hop beat.
Beyoncé has been accused of looking “much paler than her usual color” since 2008, according to daily.co.uk, specifically for her hair and skin color on the cover of 4, her fourth studio effort. However, BEYONCÉ serves as a response to these criticisms, as Beyoncé plays Miss 3rd Ward in the “Pretty Hurts” video and filmed the videos for “Blue” and “No Angel” in impoverished areas. While socioeconomic class is not necessarily an indicator of race, Beyoncé certainly makes a statement that despite her affluence, she still connects with her roots.
BEYONCÉ is a rare window into the aesthetic world of one of our generation’s most talented artists. Through this album, fans have the opportunity to experience the music through Beyoncé’s eyes, fantasies and personal experiences. In this way, she has rewritten the way that our generation experiences music through technology, a magical possibility.
All hail the queen.