On December 13th 2013, the clock struck midnight and Beyoncé “changed the game with that digital drop”! To the world's surprise, Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth solo album with no prior announcement or singles. Packaged alongside the fourteen tracks were seventeen music videos, all available only on iTunes. Going against the typical Tuesday digital and physical album release at the time, Beyoncé was released only digitally on a Friday. The decision, at the time, was a major risk, but has rippled its way into the new industry standard for album releases. On top of this, the visuals for Beyoncé’ are typically viewed as the modern model for what a “visual album” is considered. Before even looking at the musical contents of the album, the release of Beyoncé shook the music industry, and changed the trajectory of Beyonce’s own career.
Within the already record-breaking and industry changing release of Beyoncé, the album finds Beyoncé emerging herself and listeners in a sonic landscape unlike anything she had ever done. Throughout the self-titled record, Beyoncé explores a dark and experimental sound with heavy bass and moody soundscapes spread throughout. Inside the ambiance of the project lay standout tracks like “Mine” (which features Drake), “No Angel”, and “Haunted”, which fuse alternative and R&B together to show off Beyoncé’s artistry like never before. Alongside them are the hits “XO”, “Partition”, and “Drunk In Love” (featuring JAY-Z), which continue to become more iconic by the day.
Looking back on the release of Beyoncé shows a moment in not only a reinvention of Beyoncé, but a moment of industry reconstruction. Beyoncé shattered all constructs and formalities of the music industry at the time, and bravely created a new path for artists to follow. The self-titled album shamelessly explores themes of her relationship, newfound motherhood, and beauty standards amongst many others. Above this all, this creative endeavor created a space for Beyoncé to simply be Beyoncé. It was from this moment on that Beyoncé no longer played by the rules of the industry, but by the rules of her own. Taking a look at the follow up album to Beyoncé, Lemonade, shows exactly this. An ultra-personal album, surprise-released alongside another visual component, digging into Beyoncé's emotional journey following issues in her relationship, all on her own terms. All-in-all, Beyoncé cemented Beyoncé as a legend and a celebrity amongst celebrities. Though she's always been a beaming ray of originality and creativity, Beyoncé’s self-titled album proved then, and now, that she is a force that cannot be reckoned with. But, who’s surprised? After all, Beyoncé is Beyoncé.
- Logan Bandi