Beyonce Rules The Music Throne Again…On Her Own Terms

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Just minutes before midnight EST Friday (Dec. 13) morning, Beyonce released her fifth album, a self-titled set, exclusively on iTunes. Details are still emerging on confirmed producers, but guests credited on the “exclusive visual album” are Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and daughter Blue Ivy.

Beyonce’s self-titled album — her fifth studio effort, and first since 2011’s “4” — arrived on Thursday night (Dec. 12) without prior warning. The 14-song collection features “Drunk In Love,” a new collaboration with husband Jay Z; “Mine,” featuring Drake; Superpower, with her “I Miss You” collaborator Frank Ocean; and “Blue,” a song with her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. “XO,” long rumored to be a single from the singer’s new album, also appears on the track list.

Every song on the album has also been given a video, all of which are available on iTunes; “Grown Woman,” a promotional cut that Beyonce performed during her Mrs. Carter world tour this year, appears as a bonus video, but did not make the album’s track list. “Standing on the Sun,” penned by Sia and featured in an H&M ad, is nowhere to be found.

“I see music,” Beyonce said in a video announcing the album on her Facebook page, dubbed “Self-Titled, Part 1.” “It’s more than just what I hear.  When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies.  And they’re all connected to the music.”

She likened the experience to her memories of watching the premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video with her family in the 80s. “I miss that immersive experience,” she says in the clip. “Now people only listen to a few seconds of  song on the iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience. It’s all about the single, and the hype. It’s so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”

Billboard first broke the news that Beyonce music might be coming before year’s end when Columbia chairman Rob Stringer said in October, “we’ve got one or two records, which will be coming out that we’re working on, he said cryptically. I feel good about those records, too — we’ve got records lined up that hopefully will make the beginning of December.”

iTunes is expected to have a week-long exclusive on the album, before a retail release tentatively set for Saturday, December 21, according to sources familiar with plans and progress with the pressing of physical copies. Though an official single didn’t precede the set, two tracks are expected to be announced as the lead singles for different formats next week.


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