Music Review: Visual Album
article by Tori True
Pop star Beyoncé shocks the world with the release of her new self-titled album. Without the slightest hint that she was even thinking of making a new album, she gives the whole world a Christmas gift with the release of fourteen new songs and seventeen new music videos filmed all over the world. From the beaches of Brazil and Jamaica, the streets of New York City, Los Angeles, and Paris, as well as scenes from the “ghetto” of Houston where she grew up (and a skating rink that she enjoyed going to as a child), Beyoncé manages to keep this “Visual Album” a national secret.
Co-directing most of the songs, raising a baby girl, maintaining a family, and only 32 years old, Beyoncé proves to us that she is capable of anything. “I see music…” Beyoncé tells ABC News, “when I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory of my childhood, thoughts about my life… and they’re all connected to the music.” She states this trying to explain to her fans that she means for them to feel and experience the music as well as hear it. It’s meant to be more than a silly love song on the radio. “She’s flexing her dominance and independence as a woman,” Nick Catucci states in a review.
Apart from the original surprise of the album, Beyoncé further brings up a lot of controversy in her work – especially for those that expect themselves to be immersed the music and develop thoughts and arguments as Beyoncé intended her listeners to. It’s artistic. It’s feminist. The album, BEYONCÉ, brings up arguments that most women would be to terrified to release. Flaunting her sexuality through her words and visuals, Queen Bey tries to prove a point that doing so should be acceptable for women to do as well as men. In “***Flawless”, Beyoncé obtained the rights for two TED talks which she incorporates into the song. One of them is a French woman stating that “women are taught that they are incapable. They are told that they cannot be sexual beings like boys are…” In the other TED talk, a man says, “women are told that they are to make themselves smaller. You can have ambition – just not too much.” In this song, she deifies herself and therefore tries to give women the upper hand that they have been deprived of throughout history.
Beyoncé boldly opens her album with a realistic interpretation of women in pageants by drawing out the unrealistic ideas humans have of physical perfection. She highlights bulimia and plastic surgery and titles the song, “Pretty Hurts.” To similarly end the album with a bang, in Beyoncé’s second to last song, “Heaven,” she writes for a child that she miscarried. Laced with heart-wrenching lyrics, Bey pours out her heart in a ballad for her lost child crying, “heaven couldn’t wait for you.” To contrast this, the very next song (and the concluding one in the album) is titled “Blue,” for her living child, Blue Ivy. Baby Blue actually makes an appearance in both the video and the song. “Sometimes I feel these walls seem to cave in on me / but when I look in your eyes, I feel alive.”
Emphasizing feminism, the overwhelming power of love, human relationships, and motherhood, as well as bringing to light the faults of humanity, Beyoncé redefines the social norms and the conception of “pop” music in our culture. She has given an unforgettable gift to the world that will resound in the hearts of her fans for many years to come.