Being a music enthusiast, I figured it’s time for our first official music review and song-by-song breakdown of the album EVERYONE is talking about, Beyonce’s “Beyonce.”
Before we even get into the music, we must talk about the way Beyonce decided to release this album. Slightly over a week ago, with 0 promotion and no singles, Beyonce quietly dropped her new album on iTunes. Not only did it have an entire album full of new music, but each song had a video to go with it. Both of these things are virtually unheard of in the music business. The album has literally taken the world by storm, as the iTunes copy alone has already sold over 1,000,000 copies in slightly over a week. So does the album hold up to it’s hype? Let’s examine in a song-by-song breakdown.
1. Pretty Hurts
The album opens with a confessional track, “Pretty Hurts.” The song is very traditional Beyonce sounding, but it has a slightly darker edge and sounds more personal. Beyonce tells us, “Mama said, what’s in your head, it doesn’t matter” and tells a story about a girl who was told being pretty was the only thing that matters. As Beyonce informs us, being pretty can sometimes hurt and things may not necessarily be as glamorous as they seem just because she’s her. I like the song, but I don’t feel it’s necessarily the strongest on the set; however, as an opener, it works fine.
This track is a combination of two of the videos, “Ghost” and “Haunted.” In the “Ghost” portion, Beyonce speak raps, which is an exciting change of pace for her. It’s also very dark, as she tells us, “I’m climbing up the walls cuz all the shit I hear is boring, all the shit I do is boring, all these record labels boring, I don’t trust these record labels I’m torn.” Again, this seems to be confessional and more personal than Beyonce has ever gotten. Then, the song transforms into “Haunted,” a beautiful, chilling ballad of sorts. The video that accompanies the “Haunted” song is equally eerie and definitely worth a view. The song also has a sexual undertone (which, you’ll soon start to notice, becomes a HUGE part of this album), with lyres such as, “My haunted lungs, ghost in the sheets… my wicked tongue, where will it be? I know if I’m onto you, you must be onto me.” Overall, I really like this song and feel it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the record; that is, this will NOT be a traditional Beyonce album.
3. Drunk In Love
The fact that this song features Jay Z immediately put it higher on my priority list, even before a first listen. It should be noted, though, that this is NO “Crazy In Love” or “Deja Vu.” Rather, what we have here is a much darker song with an Indian backbeat about Beyonce drinking a bit too much and wanting to have drunk sex. After a few listens, the song’s beat becomes infectious and you’ll quickly be singing “I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking… I want you”- just don’t let your children catch you. It should be noted one of the lyrics is also particularly comical if you’ve ever been one to imbibe a bit too much in an evening, when Beyonce says, “We walk up in the kitchen like how the hell did this shit happen? Oh baby.” Overall, I adore this song, and it continues the much more adult-like tone of this album.
Blow, which apparently is about giving a certain type of job, has an 80’s like, old-school vibe to it. While the song has some fun moments around the chorus, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites, with some cringe-worthy lyrics like “When you like the skittles it’s the sweetest in the middle.”
5. No Angel
As meh as I feel about “Blow,” I feel the COMPLETE opposite about “No Angel.” This song is a beautiful slow-jam that evokes memories of the late Aaliyah. The song has such a sexy feel to it and Beyonce’s flow is stellar. I also like that, lyrically, she acknowledges “I know I”m not the girl you thought.” I think that actually is a really good statement for this album, as people have so many expectations of what they want from Beyonce and what her music should be/sound like, and this album is defying them all. This song also does a good job at continuing the main theme of the album, which undeniably is sex, with lyrics such as “Do you wanna ride? Tell me, do you wanna ride?”
This song is also a combination of two videos, “Yonce” and “Partition.” I like Yonce for the fact that Beyonce raps again for part of it, and it’s nice to see her experimenting with this. “Partition,” on the other hand, is one of my favorite songs on the album, and the accompanying video of her having a sexual fantasy while sitting at breakfast is great. Also, the lyrics here are some of the most tongue-in-cheek and creative on the album, especially when she says, “He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse, he Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown.” By now, you may be a bit shocked that Beyonce is the one singing these lyrics, but this definitely is her, just a MUCH more x-rated version.
“Jealous” is EXACTLY what Britney Spears’s “Perfume” should have been but failed to be. This song finds Beyonce at home, naked, cooking a meal for her man and wondering where he is. She tells us she’s “jealous” and “if you give me a promise, I’m keeping mine.” Lyrically, the song also mentions her “Freakdem dress” and it’s nice to hear a throwback to the earlier Beyonce.
Immediately, from the first lyric of “Let me sit this ass on you,” you know this song will be one of the filthiest on the album. That said, it’s also one of the strongest R&B jams on the album. Again, it has a slower, edgier vibe than what we have heard from Beyonce before, but the song is flawless. The song is chock full of sexual innuendo such as, “Rock right up to the tide of my mountain, climb until you reach my peak… then reach right into the bottom of my mountain, I wanna play in your deep.” That said, it’s also extremely catchy, and after a few listens will definitely be caught in your head.
This song takes a break from the theme of sex, and focuses more on love. It starts as a slow ballad, but then progresses into a faster paced, edgier song that features Drake. Stylistically, this is so different from anything Beyonce has ever done, and it’s something you need to hear to understand, as the result is brilliant and this is one of the strongest songs on the entire album. Literally, the first time I heard this, I said something along the lines of “holy shit!” It’s THAT type of reaction that you must hear to understand. I also love the chorus, “I just wanna say you’re mine, you’re mine, f what you heard, you’re mine you’re mine.”
This song is actually going to be one of the singles and it’s understandable why. The chorus is undeniably catchy, the song is radio-friendly, and the song itself is moving. It’s definitely got a more pop vibe than the rest of the album, but it works. I also love the chorus, where Beyonce sings, “In the darkest night I’ll search through the crowd, your face is all that I see, I’ll give you everything, baby love me lights out.” It’s one of those feel good songs about love that you’ll play 1000 times and picture the one you love each time.
When I realized this was on the album on my first listen through, I SCREAMED. Why? This was the “Bow Down/I Been On” single that Beyonce released MONTHS ago that she took a LOT of heat for, as people were criticizing it for being too anti-feminist with lyrics like “When I was just a little girl, you dreamt of being in my world…bow down bitches” As pro-feminist as I am, the reason that I adored the song so much was the hip-hop beat and how different it was for Beyonce. I also loved how cocky it was. The song in it’s album form is definitely reworked, and it features an interesting spoken word part that is a bit more feminist; however, I still like it a lot.
This song will immediately gain attention, as it features Frank Ocean of Channel Orange fame. While I know I’m alone in this, I wasn’t a huge fan of Channel Orange minus the one “Thinkin Bout You” song. Somehow, that album went over my head, and I found it sub-par. The song here, like Ocean’s album, is also a bit boring and definitely not one of my favorite on the album.
This song has a piano and Beyonce’s voice for ~the first 30 seconds and she sounds flawless. The song definitely has a sad vibe, with lyrics like, “heaven couldn’t wait for you, so go on, go home.” It’s clearly about a loss she’s had and it is very pretty.
The first thing I did when I heard this would be an ode to her daughter was roll my eyes. I almost always HATE when artists do this as it’s un-relatable to anyone but them and their child. However, this album closer is SO beautiful with lyrics like, “Think it will last forever, come on baby, won’t you hold onto me, hold onto me,” that all my hatred flew out the door for adoration. This is a flawless song, a flawless album closer, and a beautiful celebration of love. This will definitely be on repeat.
Final Verdict: Like the song title “Flawless,” that’s truly how I would describe Beyonce’s new self-titeld release. The way she went about releasing it, the mature content, the videos- everything is brilliant. This is something only an artist of Beyonce’s caliber could pull off, and pull it off she does. While this isn’t the Beyonce we’ve seen in the past, it’s a Beyonce I hope to see in the future. Do yourself a favor and RUN to get a copy- either physical or digital- of this album. You will not regret it.
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