Beyoncé shocked and pleased critics and fans alike on Friday the 13th when she suddenly dropped The Visual Album, her fifth solo album. It was available for immediate download on itunes, selling 430k copies in less than 48hours. As if that wasn’t cool enough, she simultaneously released a visual version featuring videoclips for all fourteen songs, plus a few more. Explore her VEVO page to check them out.
First and foremost, releasing a surprise album is just genius. The pop-music industry has drastically changed in recent years, and Bey, alongside her wonderful team of marketing wizards, has caught on. Gone are the days when we had to wait for a physical piece of plastic to be shipped out to the local music store. Today, albums are magically conjured up by the little boxes we keep on our desks and in our pockets. And so, do we even really need to announce future release dates publicly anymore? It’s almost become routine for albums to be prematurely leaked and posted all over the internet within minutes. The success of Beyoncé attests to the fact that times have changed. Let’s hope that other players in the industry get the memo.
Even more excitement has risen over Bey’s new music videos in the feminist blogosphere. There are great debates taking place mainly around her identifying as feminist and addressing gender inequality on this album. Some find her hip gyrations whilst dressing in skimpy clothes offensive because she’s performing for the alleged “male-eye”. Others are questioning the Mrs. Carter Tour name or the fact that her husband has contributed some troubling lyrics about male violence against women. In response, some have jumped in to defend her honour and body as a woman of colour.
The exact point in time where Queen Bey became a pillar of feminism is a little unclear, but it’s wonderful to see a confident and influential woman of colour speak about feminism in the mainstream media. Mind you, the feminist vision that she champions is really one-dimensional as it lacks an understanding of how class and race are also central to the notion of social equity. In any case, feminism, in all its incarnations, seems to be on the table, and the discussions that Beyoncé has generated ultimately make up for what her unilateral message lacks.