Beyoncé review: Beyonce's new album is an unashamed celebration of very physical virtues

3.00

'As billowing and bountiful as that legendary booty'

Unusually for an industry fuelled by hype, it was the most well-kept secret since David Bowie's comeback album earlier this year, and all the more shocking for the global heft of its subject: at midnight Eastern Standard Time - around five o'clock this morning - Beyoncé suddenly released an album, available immediately through iTunes, with no advance promotional campaign at all.

A package of 14 new songs accompanied by 17 video clips, the self-titled “ visual album” is the singer's fifth long-player, and will only be obtainable in its entirety until tracks are individually downloadable in a week's time.

That's pretty much where the surprises end, however. Musically, it's the same kind of electro R&B with which radio is already awash - in large part because it's produced by the same small coterie of hip producers, with Timbaland appearing to take the most prominent role amongst the likes of Detail, Jerome Harmon, Pharrell Williams and Ryan Tedder.

And there's the obligatory appearance by her husband Jay Z, who she proudly claims “can't keep your eyes off my fanny, daddy”, over a cavernous sub-bass groove as billowing and bountiful as that legendary booty.

Elsewhere, Pharrell, Drake and Frank Ocean chip in with duets, and the celebrity couple's daughter Blue Ivy closes proceedings with a few cutesy burblings which, following the album's celebration of Beyoncé's sexuality, success and jet-set lifestyle - the accompanying clips are variously shot in global locations including France, Brazil, Australia and America, and in some cases resemble high-budget holiday videos - seems annoyingly like a you-can-have-it-all boast: all this power and luxury, and a happy family too!

Which is rather ironic, as the album likewise seeks to have its cake and eat it - an apt metaphor, in the circumstances. Following Beyoncé's bland assertion that “My aspiration in life would be... to be happy”, the opening track “Pretty Hurts” deals with the insecurity and anxieties of a girl undergoing cosmetic surgery, rooted in parental pressure - “Mama said, 'You're a pretty girl, what's in your head, it doesn't matter'”.

It's the best thing on the album by far, an undeniably noble attempt to boost female morale which finds its echo later in the feminist manifesto of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie featured in “ Flawless”; yet the rest of the album is an unashamed celebration of the very physical virtues, and the ultimate fulfillment of sexuality they inevitably bring, which leads so many women to suffer those anxieties in the first place.

The track listing is as follows:

  1. Pretty Hurts
  2. Haunted
  3. Drunk In Love (Ft Jay Z)
  4. Blow/Cherry
  5. Angel
  6. Yoncé/Partition
  7. Jealous
  8. Rocket
  9. Mine (Featuring Drake)
  10. XO
  11. ***Flawless (Featuring/ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
  12. Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean)
  13. Heaven
  14. Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy)

The album can be downloaded from itunes at www.itunes.com/beyonce

Watch a preview of Blue:

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering