Saturday, December 28, 2013

Beyonce’s self-titled album hit #1



Released: December 13, 2013

Peak: 13 US, 110 RB, 2 UK, 13 CN, 13 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.3 US, 0.6 UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B/pop


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Pretty Hurts (6/10/14, 36 RB, 63 UK, 78 CN, 47 AU, 0.2 million)
  2. Haunted (includes hidden track “Ghost”)
  3. Drunk in Love (with Jay-Z) (12/17/13, 2 US, 12 RR, 11 RB, 9 UK, 23 CN, 22 AU, sales: 3.75 million)
  4. Blow
  5. No Angel
  6. Partition (includes hidden track “Yonce”) (1/25/14, 23 US, 12 RB, 74 UK, 100 CN, sales: 1.42 million)
  7. Jealous
  8. Rocket
  9. Mine (with Drake) (1/4/14, 82 US)
  10. XO (12/16/13, 45 US, 16 RR, 12 RB, 22 UK, 21 CN, 16 AU, sales: 1.53 million)
  11. Flawless (with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) (8/12/14, 41 US, 12 RB, 65 UK, 88 CN, 0.2 million)
  12. Superpower (with Frank Ocean)
  13. Heaven
  14. Blue (with Blue Ivy)

Total Running Time: 66:35


3.852 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The greatest female R&B artist of the century finally made a record as sexy, snarling, soft, strange, and outright superlative as she is.” GQ “This album was the smart risk that made it all happen.” VC This “was a record seemingly designed to convey, clearly and calmly, that there was simply no one else in her lane.” Beyoncé “showed off her musical scope and feminist outreach” RS500 and asserted herself “as a full-spectrum visionary who was also dreaming up the future, invigorating the industry, maturing in her marriage, and blossoming into first-time motherhood. PF

Surprise Release

“Beyoncé pulled off pop’s biggest heist, disappearing off the face of the earth to make a visual masterpiece behind closed doors, with a ring of secretive collaborators. Shooting music videos around the world while on tour, Bey wore in-ear headphones throughout filming to keep the material under wraps. When she finally unleashed the self-titled project the hugely ambitious album laid down the blueprint for a whole new way to release music.” NME

“On an unassuming Thursday night, when most people were either getting ready for bed or still reeling over the latest drama-filled episode of ABC’s Scandal,” SP Beyoncé’s eponymous fifth album was released on iTunes with no warning. Such releases are more common now, but when Beyoncé dropped with zero promotion, it “completely disrupted existing models of distribution,” VC “setting the internet on fire, setting new metrics of success for the out-of-nowhere album release model.” BB As she said, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it…I am bored with that.” RS500 It showed that she wasn’t afraid of “an unconventional marketing strategy.” VC “Marketing campaigns, it implied, were for the little people.” GU

It worked, earning a Guinness world record as the fastest-selling album in iTunes’ history IS selling 80,000 downloads in just three hours, VC “revolutionizing how albums are conceived and released.” PF “To this day, the music industry has yet to figure out how to top Beyoncé, as a multimedia tour de force and sheer news event – the only person who has is Beyoncé herself.” SP

Visual Album

Beyoncé also broke ground as a “a full-suite visual album,” RS’19 redefining “what constituted an album package.” VC It was “the first major pop album to adapt to the way we listen to, and watch, music in the YouTube age.” PF It “was a kaleidoscopic experience that heightened the senses” SP with each track accompanied by “an artfully directed video and packaged as one immersive, even cinematic experience.” VC The vidoes were “shot around the world: New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and of course, her native Houston.” RS500

The Music

“After being previously accused of being too robotic and having a cold personality,” SP “the famously guarded singer [was] more candid than ever” SP offering “a court side view of her explorations of feminine sexuality and intimate relationships.” CS’19 “Black women are often urged to be silent, yet Beyoncé made it more comfortable to own and express your identity.” SP This set “the mold for a more politically aware, sexually confident and altogether provocative iteration of Queen Bey.” BB

The songs were “an unprecedented display of her blossoming self-realization.” VC She tackled “heavier sociopolitical issues more directly than ever before.” VC For example, Flawless “was an unprecedented summit of women’s continuous fight for gender equality” SP complete with a sample from a 2012 Ted talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, offering “a breakdown of feminist theory.” VC It “helped establish Beyoncé as a fierce interpreter and purveyor of black feminist thought for the pop masses. PF

The album “deals a lot with sexuality and her marriage to Jay-Z, and those songs ended up being the best on the album.” IS Rob Sheffield wrote in Rolling Stone that “she hits nasty highs all through the album, from the squishy slow jam RocketIS to “the fractured Timbaland production Partition [in which] she and Jay get kind of rough in the back of the limousine. She has to warn the chauffeur, ‘Driver roll up the partition please.’” IS Both songs “highlighted her innate provocative nature” SP while others, such as “Pretty Hurts and Jealous, found her face-to-face with her insecurities.” SP

There were “big-time bangers and anthems” VC like the “club-ready Drunk in LoveSP which “will get played at weddings as long as there are weddings.” RS’19 Blow, a song about oral sex, “was best paired with disco lights and rollerblades.” SP Sheffield called it the best on the album, saying that it “has an air of melancholy in the chilly neo-disco groove.” IS There were also “high-profile collabs Superpower with Frank Ocean [and] Mine with Drake.” RS500

She also “stretched her sonic capabilities” SP and sought “more challenging music with no regard for airplay.” SP “The production was dank, sexy, and shook the electro-pop environment…to its core with booming R&B bass lines and rattling trap hi-hats, which would soon become the new norm.” CS’19 Sheffield said “the vibe on Beyoncé is moodily futuristic R&B, strongest when it goes for full-grown electro soul with an artsy boho edge.” IS

Impact and Accolades

The album was at the helm of a renaissance in which R&B found itself “creeping up behind hip-hop and surpassing rock entirely as the more innovative, album-centric genre.” SP It also “laid the groundwork for Lemonade, her next visual album, which would…tell the story of her rage, liberation, and ultimate forgiveness for her husband Jay Z’s alleged infidelity.” VC

“It was nominated for five Grammy Awards, took home three, secured her Video Vanguard Award at the 2014 VMAs…and earned Beyoncé the distinction of being the first female artist to have her first five albums debut atop the Billboard 200 chart. SP The album spent a whopping 185 weeks on that chart.

Notes: A second disc included videos of the songs.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 12/18/2020; last updated 4/21/2022.

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