Beyoncé has done the seemingly impossible. On Dec. 13, 2013, overnight and to the world’s complete surprise, she released 14 secret songs and 17 accompanying videos. Past writer for The Knight Writer and Van Buren alumni Heather Clark said that upon
discovering the news she was, “seriously in tears...no one’s ever done that before.” The album is currently placed at number two on the Billboard charts, and is estimated to surpass the album for the movie Frozen very soon according to the Billboard creators.
The album has been both hailed and disputed by many. The album, in my personal opinion, had pieces that needed both these things. My favorite song without a doubt was “Pretty Hurts.” The song talks about Beyoncé’s career in pageants, and the fact that her physical appearance always seemed to stifle her true dreams. With the song featuring lyrics like, “perfection is a disease of a nation,” it speaks volumes to how much importance we place on looks in our country and what it can do to young girls.
A few other honorable mentions include the first song, “Heaven.” Although it isn’t clear who the song is about, it’s clear the song is a mention to someone she lost. Another past writer for The Knight Writer and Van Buren alumni Laura Endicott said the song was, “sad and beautiful.” Another honorable mention is the song “Blue,” written for her young daughter, which Clark said was “absolutely adorable.” Endicott too thought the song was “incredibly touching,” and I can’t help but agree. As well as the honorable mention of the song “XO,” which is a cute song about love and kisses. Finally, the last honorable mention and probably my second favorite song was “Flawless.” The song “gives the message of woman empowerment,” according to Clark. It features an excerpt by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a notable Nigerian feminist, from one of her speeches. “I found [it] to really sum up her album and the expression of standing up to being a woman and be[ing] proud of it,” said Endicott. If you have the chance, the entire speech by Chimamanda is more than recommended, and well worth the thirty minutes of your time it takes to watch it.
However, the album is also very mature. Songs like “Blow” and “Rocket” feature lyrics that are by far too inappropriate and sexual in nature to mention here so be warned. Clark admitted that, “it is definitely her most provocative album,” with Endicott and myself agreeing. As well as the fact that Beyoncé is being hailed by many as a feminist, she is being scorned by others for a section of lyrics on one song. This most controversial song was “Drunk in Love.” In a part of the song when Jay-Z is rapping, he references an incident with Ike Turner by saying, “Eat the cake Anna Mae.” The incident was of a true time when Ike Turner, Tina Turner’s brutally abusive ex-husband, shoved cake in her face and embarrassed her in public. It’s commonly used to refer to a man who is threatened by a woman’s success, and feels the need to take it from her. There’s been much anger that this reference was included, and for my part I think anything referencing a woman who was as battered and tortured by her husband as Tina Turner was is deplorable.
Besides the album’s slight controversy and mature content, it wasn’t bad, but it’s definitely not my favorite by Beyoncé. The album for sure had some gems of songs on it, but also some that were rather passable. I do, however, find the feat she accomplished of publishing the album in complete secrecy without a single leak very applaudable. Beyoncé is a woman with ambition who balances raising a child, a marriage, and her career all in one and that’s admirable. Beyoncé said in a video interview that, “I see music, it’s more than just what I hear.” Though in my opinion the music she saw on this album is okay at best, I still think she’s a stellar woman and can’t wait to see what she releases next time around.