A review of the musical year that was 2013 will not be complete without mentioning Beyonce's self titled album. It's been on the shelves for less than two weeks but it's already been one of 2013's musical highlights, and with only 8 days until the new year, it's hard to think that it will be knocked off its lofty perch. Here's why we think it was the second best album of 2013.
By Tinashe Venge
Beyonce by (You guessed it!) Beyonce is one of the biggest "Game Changers" in recent years. I won't lie; I'd been critical of Queen (Or King?) Bey in recent times. Bow down b****es is right up there with some of the worst tracks I've ever heard (An exclusive list that includes many tracks by 2Chainz, Soulja Boy and Chief Keef) and in my eyes, she was past it.
Beyonce is an incredible performer; Jay Z rates her as the best performer on the planet, and few can argue. But, viral singles aside, has Beyonce ever released an amazing record? A "Game Changer"? If you asked me a few months ago, my answer would have been "no" but Beyonce has changed my mind.
Beyonce was released with no promotion, no single, no marketing- absolutely nothing. It just... well... appeared on iTunes, and went on to absolutely smash records. It's the first of its kind, and it's arguable that not many could have pulled such a stunt off as well as Queen Bey.
We'll come back to that, but let's talk about the album. It's everything that you expect from Beyonce. Pitch perfect vocals, excellent range, chilling falsettos and inspiring belters. The big song everybody is on about at the moment is Drunk in Love. A nice track, but not one I'd have chosen as a highlight. Drunk in Love stands out mostly because hubby, Jay Z, features on the track lending his trademark vocals in a verse. Aside from Jigga's appearance, it's a pretty ordinary song.
In fact, a lot of the songs on this album are pretty... Beyonce-Ordinary (Ordinary, by Beyonce's standards). There are moments where she breaks type, and gives us something a little more special, but in my opinion these are few and far between. Yonce/Partition is one such moment- the song takes the increasingly popular "Blend-two-songs-into-one" habit that's been adopted by the likes of Drake and Justin Timberlake in recent times, and it works for Bey. I love that she speaks to us in almost two different characters, and its an example of the creativity that she possesses.
However, apart from the few moments of excellence, the album is nothing earth-shattering. Musically, many tracks are found lacking and it's up to Beyonce's strong vocals to carry them through. Pretty Hurts has the potential to be a big hit, but it's let down by its clicheness. I hear it and think "Sorry hunny, Christina said all this in Beautiful."
Where the album succeeds is in its widely publicised marketing strategy. The decision to not announce a release date, to give no indication that the album was ready and to simply release it on iTunes on a Friday morning has worked out to be a stroke of genius. The album has destroyed iTunes records, raking in nearly a million sales in less than two weeks. It's been an unqualified success, and possibly more of a success than Beyonce would have ever imagined.
While the music on the actual album may leave you feeling a little underwhelmed, there can be no denying that Beyonce is one of the biggest albums of the year and definitely worthy of our number two spot.