Rant and Rave: Beyoncé


No one saw it coming. It was literally a surprise release that even hardcore fans didn’t know about. A few days before the explosive return of Queen Bey, an insider source told the press that Beyoncé’s new album would be released sometime next year. At the stroke of midnight, Friday the 13th, iTunes became a mecca for members of the BeyHive to partake and bask in the surprise Beyoncé cooked up for her fans.

What most people know from the Queen is that she is a private individual, one whose exposure to the media is likened to an elusive fox; rather than adorning the paparazzi with twerking or antics, the press graces her with their welcoming, and sometimes overwhelming, presence. What her album wants to accomplish is to give the listeners a sense of reflection and communication. Her “visual album” employs more than the aesthetic value of her brand; it offers a glimpse into the psyche of Beyoncé herself.

Pretty much the pop equivalent in the whole album, Pretty Hurts is the exploration of the pageant industrial complex of society and how it damages the souls of those that are deployed into battle. As the first track, it serves as a good introduction; to other artists, this would have been the climax of their album, but she places it first for a higher purpose, symbolizing her persona as a role model and a feminist.

Haunted, on the other hand, is a darker track that tackles Beyoncé’s thoughts on her work and the industry. The song is an honest canvas of what she feels, solidifying her status as an honest and down-to-earth individual. Her qualms and worries about the market reach of this album is the icing on top of the proverbial cake. The catchy rhythm complements the introduction of the next track, a duet with her husband Jay-Z. Drunk In Love signifies the start of a slew of love songs in Bey’s album. The duet is a hip addition to the already diverse collection of songs because of the production value and the accompanying video that is strong because of the cinematography and the intensity of the lyrics.

More mature than her previous albums, the visual album contains material that employs double entendre. Blow, although catchy and has a nice hook, contains questionable lyrics that might deal with the escapades of Beyoncé and Jay-Z as a couple. The trumpet horns of the song helps make the track club-friendly, but all in all, it is best to listen to it at home. As one goes further into the development of Bey, the fifth track, No Angel, sounds like a taunt coming from Beyoncé herself directed toward Jay-Z. Rumors circulated awhile back that the couple might split, and although this song does not confirm them, it debunks the angelic persona the media portrays Beyoncé to be, coming from the singer directly.

Partition, an ambitious track, deals with another escapade of the couple, this time in Paris. The climax of the song hints at a naughtier meeting with a direct reference to the partition of a limo driver to the backseat. The video shows Beyoncé being erotic on a pillar, fitting with the tone and content of the song. The next song, Jealous, paints a picture that kind of confirms the rumors about their break-up; instead of being vague, Beyoncé makes a song that deserves to be called a follow-up to If I Were A Boy because it explores the humanity of the feeling of jealousy and what it must feel like to be the other party. Rocket, though excellent, sounds like a track coming from Justin Timberlake; Beyoncé brings her own spin to make it her own, singing of pleasures and, questionably, the process of sitting her “mass appeal” down.

Mine is a personal composition that is in tune with what people expect from Beyoncé. It is sensitive yet she makes it compelling with the help of Drake. This duet sounds like a confession of the artist on the subject of fidelity, marriage and love. The hook is outstanding, and the length is justifiable because the song is transcendent of being just another pop hit. XO is another song that revels in the joy that Beyoncé feels; the love is evident in this song, and it serves as a nice cap on the love songs that were sung. ***Flawless is a feminist-powered track that features Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, a feminist who had a few smart things to say about the way girls are being brought up; like a toned down version of Run The World (Girls), but the results are better and more thoughtful.

Frank Ocean appears in Superpower, an acapella-fuelled song that tackles the idea of tough love but the intensity of the whole song makes the song feel like a montage in a superhero flick. Heaven, as some pundits believe, felt like the new Halo; on the contrary, this song feels like the signal that we are indeed experiencing a new Beyoncé, one whose experiences and newfound wisdom help mold how she is as an artist. The tenderness of the vocals deserve a Grammy because the passion is felt to the bone, and tears may run down after listening to the song. Blue, the last and arguably one of the best tracks, is about her love for Blue Ivy, her daughter, and the time they spend together. Fans who adore Blue will adore the song because it doesn’t just offer an in-depth look into their relationship, but it is a song that denotes growth for Beyoncé; she isn’t that girl who was “crazy in love” anymore, she’s a mother now.

The marketing strategy that Beyoncé employed is one for the books because it was virtually unheard of for an artist to release an album without the record label pestering the masses to buy it. Not only does it show how powerful Beyoncé is in commanding the attention of buyers, it is also a testament to the levels of entertainment the Queen will go to just to please fans. Her explanation for the album is that she sees things, and with the interview, it was clear that she is the kind of artist who improves and makes sure that excellence is not stagnant nor is it static.

For Beyoncé, this visual album shows the different personas of her being: mom, wife, woman and human being. The videos that were released provided evidence that she is an entertainer, and she masters her craft, continually churning out new material to better herself. Her controlled media brand is a strength she used in coming up with an album that, though personal and reflective, still felt vague and mysterious. It did, however, elevate her craft into a league of her own. Mrs. Carter is a myth that was debunked in this album; she was stripped down literally and figuratively, and the product was a satisfying one. Even the album cover screams that amidst  a sea of overworking pop stars, Beyoncé stands out.

Rating: 4.0

Daniel Ian Comandante

By Daniel Ian Comandante

22 replies on “Rant and Rave: Beyoncé”


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