Beyoncé, ‘Beyoncé’


Aidin Vaziri | While we’re pretty sure Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth studio album without warning two weeks ago simply to ruin the lives of print journalists eager to set off on vacation, give her credit for pulling off a great stunt. Without any traditional promotion – beyond the great ripples of fans freaking out on Twitter – “Beyoncé,” a 14-track “visual” album, sold more than a million copies in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling full-length release in the iTunes Store. Sure, it’s a feat only someone in Beyoncé’s privileged position could pull off. At least she backs it up with her most intriguing set of songs in ages (accompanied by 17 frequently raunchy videos), veering from the lush, lusty soul of “Drunk in Love,” a duet with husband Jay Z, to the minimalist electro-funk of “Mine,” a collaboration with Drake that owes more than a nod to his own collaboration with Jamie XX. Beyoncé gets unexpectedly explicit on “Partition” and expectedly tender on “Superpower,” a duet with Frank Ocean. She declares herself a feminist on several occasions, and on album opener “Pretty Hurts” denounces almost everything we thought she stood for: “Perfection is the disease of a nation.” And while the album doesn’t contain any pop firecrackers like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Irreplaceable,” it hardly matters. Beyoncé has already proved herself as a brand.