Wednesday, 8 January 2014

by Nadia Marissa, Junior 2 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Last year, Beyoncé Knowles (the amazing goddess walking amongst us mortals) decided to play Santa Claus and present us with a fully completed 14 song album accompanied by 17 music videos - with no prior announcement. Touting it as a “visual album”, Beyonce has done something completely unprecedented. She has bypassed all of the mundane marketing and single releases needed to properly advertise an album and instead, choosing to release her music in a way she sees fit. And we thought she couldn’t get any better.


The self-titled album is structured in such a way that it showcases everything Beyoncé wants the world to see her as - a person. She begins with a devastating ballad titled Pretty Hurts about the pressures society puts on girls to be deemed ‘beautiful’. Coming from someone as gorgeous as Beyoncé, it can come off as a little disbelieving. But there is something awe-inspiring about the way Beyoncé takes a trophy and destroys her award collection. In that moment, it seems that Beyoncé is rising above everything the music industry, the media and the critics. This entire album is wrought with the idea of facing one’s fears and insecurities, and winning. Whether these insecurities lies within her relationship with Jay-Z (Jealous, Mine) or herself (Haunted), she sings about them with a refreshing breath of honesty. 

Another track stylized as ***Flawless juxtaposes Pretty Hurts perfectly because it projects the belief that yes, I am perfect the way I am. With an unrelenting beat backed by a techno melody that would make Daft Punk proud, ***Flawless is a feminist anthem that screams its message and refuses to be left unheard. Sampling renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk on feminism, Beyoncé brings feminism to the forefront by straight out defining it. In a society where even the word ‘feminist’ can cause misunderstanding and confusion, Beyoncé does not shrink back from that title. Instead, she embraces it with all of the confidence and grace she is known for. 

In the same vein, there are a number of tracks that celebrate her confidence and sexuality. Scratch that, there are a lot of tracks: Blow, Rocket and Drunk In Love are all examples. But Partition takes the cake. Sexy, sinful, scorching hot, - and anchored with a catchy Timbaland beat - Beyonce delivers her most eye-opening performance yet. Dropping Monica Lewinski and other such references, it reminds us of another facet of Beyoncé - that of the sex symbol. Living in a world where women are condemned for accepting their sexuality (and where sex is still a huge taboo), Beyoncé encourages women to be comfortable with their bodies and desires. 


Contrastingly, the album ends on a poignant note with two songs: one, recounting the death of her first child through a miscarriage; and the second, the birth and life of her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Once again, Beyoncé is opening herself up to her audience revealing very personal feelings. These two gorgeous ballads, Heaven and Blue respectively mirror each other. Whilst Heaven deals with the trauma and loss of her child, Blue reflects on her happiness as her mother. Yet, they both carry the message of hope and love. It may sound cheesy but she has never shown a side quite as human as this one. After years of viewing and dissecting her confident alter ego SASHA FIERCE, it’s exhilarating to finally get to know Beyoncé. 

Beyoncé (the album) is an expertly crafted, emotionally charged confession from the woman herself. She has taken all of the anger and pain and sadness she may be feeling and turned it into something beautiful. Because above all, this album is about how she has come to terms with being happy with herself. Released at the end of a year of startlingly lacklustre pop performances (Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga), Beyoncé hammers it home with an album that no one is likely to forget in a long, long while. There’s no doubt about it, Beyoncé is quite literally, ***FLAWLESS. 

Album Rating: 9/10 
by Unknown 22:40 33 comments | in , , ,

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