Above and Beyoncé

a still from the video "Pretty Hurts"
a still from the video “Pretty Hurts”

I was half asleep scrolling through news updates when Beyoncé upset the entire pop music game with her surprise self-titled studio album. I checked a few forms of social media (ok, I nearly broke my thumb scrolling through tumblr) to see the general response and eventually found myself so overwhelmed with GIFs that around 3 AM I gave up on sleep and got out of bed to see for myself what this was all about.

Then I watched the whole visual album two and a half times. The sleep deprivation was well worth it.

Beyoncé’s 14 song, 17 video album is her greatest artistic effort yet and is, in my opinion, the slickest release of the modern era. While we could say that she released the album without any warning, promotion, singles, or other traditional marketing practices of the pop world, we’d be wrong. Let’s be honest: 2013 was the Year of Beyoncé. From inaugurations to Superbowls to world wide tours and Pepsi ads, Beyoncé has spent the entire year marketing Beyoncé; releasing the album at the end of it was part of a sensibly elaborate marketing plan. However, even with that in mind, releasing an album along with seventeen gorgeous music videos is still a jaw-droppingly large feat. Not to mention that this release surely sent the blogosphere running back to amend their premature “Best of 2013” listicles.
My personal favorite is the vivid, exciting, bokeh heavy “XO” video, directed by Terry Richardson. The run-and-gun cinematography perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the crowds at Coney Island (especially Coney Island when Beyoncé and her crew of pretty supermodel friends visit). It manages to lend a collective air to a song that is very much about a message from one person to another. It’s as though we are all in love with Beyoncé, and she is in love with all of us.

I’d love to talk more about the videos and the choices made! If you’d like to do the same, come to the WIC Seminar Room (first floor of Van Pelt Library) on Thursday, January 16 at 3:00 PM, where we’ll be showing some of the videos and chatting about our Beyoncé feelings. Sign up here, or just come by!

ps: here’s “XO”:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xUfCUFPL-8]

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