TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 March 2014
On December 13, 2013, while engaged in a world tour, and without any pre-release announcement, Beyonce released her self-titled 5th solo studio album exclusively via the iTunes store. Developed as a simultaneous audio-visual medium, the album's songs were accompanied by short films that illustrate the musical concepts conceived during production. In just 3 days, "Beyonce" sold 828,000 copies; records were broken, music history was made, new industry rules were set. 14 songs, 17 videos, switching from uninhibited female empowerment to kitchen sink drama, it was not just merely a record by a megastar, but a statement, as everything about this dark and complex record suggested that, despite the eponymous title, Beyonce was demanding more of herself than just being Beyonce.
Co-written and co-produced by herself and A-listers such as Pharell, and Timbaland, among others, and with references to her competitive showbiz upbringing and acknowledgments of her beloved hometown, Beyonce continued the game of role-playing she is so good at: pop diva, fashion icon, wife, mother, herself, Sasha Fierce, revolutionary, provocateur etc. Explaining her motivation, she said she would often connect images, childhood memories, emotions and fantasies to songs she was in the midst of composing, and that she wanted people to hear the songs with the story that was in her head. The result was a grown-up pop album that is mature without being boring, bold without being forced, and entertaining without being a drag. Not a small feat in pop music where rarely something exciting happens.
3 months later, "Beyonce" is considered by critics and fans alike as B's creative and commercial peak. The enormous enthusiasm of overwhelmed fans for this bold, expansive body of work is making sales growing steadily. In an obvious attempt to boost sales furthemore, this career highlight from one of showbiz's most hard-working superstars is now available in a CD+blu-ray set. Those who purchase the new edition, will find nothing new included on here. This edition is simply an alternative to the original set, featuring identical tracklist, artwork and packaging, all housed in a slipcase cover. The attraction is just the format itself which improves the videos in particular, now visually enhanced. One can marvel at the astonishing details in picture, the crisp sound, and pristine production.
Sonically brilliant, visually magnificent, entertaining and substantive in every respect, "Beyonce" is easily B's most accomplished project to date, and undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2013-2014. And, since the other big pop title of 2013 was released just a month earlier than this, I can claim that, where Lady Gaga failed with "Artpop", Beyonce triumphed with this (I am a Gaga fan, but "Artpop" was admittedly a disappointment).