A real queen needs no introduction, hype or warning.
Christmas morning came early for Beyoncé fans when Queen Bey released her first self-titled album in her more than 10-year solo tenure early Friday on iTunes. Devoid of any press, release party and singles, while the world was sleeping, Beyoncé was conquering industry protocol and expectations.
Any true part of Beyoncé’s court, though, knows the Queen’s love of loyalty. After all, if you like it, then you might as well put a ring on it. And perhaps in the biggest surprise of “Beyoncé” that really should come as no surprise, the newest addition to her splendor is a commitment within itself.
Listening to the full, 14-track album only shows a mere 50 percent devotion. Luckily, though, the sound that exudes from the songs is enough to turn an agnostic Beyoncé follower into a believer. None of the tracks provide a groundbreaking sound unique from any of her past work, but instead work almost as a “Best of Beyoncé” culmination album full of new material, highlighting the best and most memorable of her work wrapped in an exclusive and even better package. “XO” makes for a lovely and heavenly nod to melodies exhibited in “Halo” and “End of Time,” “Partition” is a sexual narrative akin to “Why Don’t You Love Me?” and “Video Phone,” and “Drunk In Love,” featuring other half Jay Z, is simply a sequel to “Crazy In Love.”
But in this album, the Queen calls for the attention of all eyes and ears. The other half of “Beyoncé” proves the songstress a hip-hop, pop visionary in a sort of visual extravaganza. Each of the tracks is accompanied by a music video treated with a cinematic — but completely sensual — storyline. No sets overlap, no piece of wardrobe reused, no expression of emotion familiar. Some of the videos display a higher production, such as a full beauty pageant providing as centerpiece for “Pretty Hurts.” Others are much more simple in design and nature, as a black piece of sheer fabric dances with and around Beyoncé in the video for “Ghost.”
However, there is nothing weird about the album. In a day of Lady Gagas and Kanye Wests straining necks to prove themselves as artistic geniuses through nonsensical sampling and unexplainable video imagery, “Beyoncé,” from top to bottom, makes sense. It’s a view of Beyoncé that for some may be a little different, but, in reality, is an effort many listeners have already seen through past works. Now, though, they are finally receiving it in an overwhelming, unexpected pleasant surprise.
There is no better title for the album than of its artist’s namesake, for this is quintessentially Beyoncé.