Released: December 13, 2013
Genre: Alternative R&B
Label: Parkwood ・Columbia
Producer: Beyoncé ・40 ・Ammo ・Boots ・Detail ・Jerome Harmon ・Caroline Polachek ・Ryan Tedder ・The-Dream ・The Order ・Timbaland ・Justin Timberlake ・Key Wane ・Pharrell Williams
Beyoncé Knowles is a living legend. By 2013, the icon was a bonafide superstar, wife to rap legend Jay Z, & mother to their daughter Blue Ivy. After the disbandment of Destiny’s Child, Bey’s career skyrocketed to newer heights with the success of 2006’s B’Day. 2008’s I Am… Sasha Fierce & 2011’s 4.
Changed the game with that digital drop
Know where you was when that digital popped
I stopped the world
Male or female, it make no difference, I stop the world
Carry onBeyoncé Knowles-Carter, 2014
Beyoncé truly indeed stopped the world on December 13, 2013 when she released her fifth eponymous album with no prior announcements or promotion. It was absolutely a fucking moment. I literally freaked out! Like she said, the world literally stopped and was shocked at how this album was executed. It was proof that Bey is one of the most powerful Black artists since Michael Jackson, which I am a firm believer of.
Developed as a visual album, Beyoncé is an album where each song was accompanied by short films that illustrate the concept of that said song. Themes from the album included feminism, sex, monogamy, the ups and downs of relationships and the singer’s desire to have freedom within her art.
Beyonce worked on the album in straight secrecy throughout the year of 2013, only sharing details of the album with a small group of people. The direction Beyoncé was going with this album is that she wanted to reintroduce the world to the idea that an album release was a huge and big moment in the industry…and the singer also noted that the industry lost the meaning by creating more hype based on singles.
For example, back in the day, people discussed the albums way more than the singles. We can listen to an album like Ohio Players for example. Whether if the songs on the album were singles or not, you knew them. & that alone made the album a classic. Period.
Self-titled sold a total of 430,000 copies (digitally) within 24 hours and ended up selling 617,213 copies within three days, giving Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. It was not only the fourth largest sales week of an album during the year of 2013, but it was the highest debut sales week of her solo career.
Apple also reported that the album was the fastest selling in the history of the iTunes Store worldwide. The impact that the Beyoncé album had on the music industry was truly tremendous. The singer is credited with the popularization of surprise releases, and the release of albums switching to Fridays instead of Tuesdays..changing the way albums were charted as well. The album has been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you: Beyoncé.
Written by Joshua Coleman ・Sia Furler ・ Beyoncé Knowles
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst.
Perfection is a disease of a nation….Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, 2013
The album opens with the Sia penned Pretty Hurts. With themes of third-wave feminism, self-empowerment and body image, Pretty Hurts speaks to the pain that society’s standards to beauty brings to women. A power pop and soul ballad, the song was released as a single, peaking in the top ten on the UK charts.
(contains hidden track Ghost)
Written by Beyoncé Knowles ・Jordan Asher Cruz
This song is broken into two parts: the first part is titled Ghost, & the other is titled Haunted.
Ghost is an alt hip hop and dubstep inspired record that has Beyoncé speaking on how bored she was with the process of releasing a record at that time and how albums lost the true meaning of being works of art. I mean, she didn’t lie one bit.
Haunted is a record that is lyrically about Beyoncé’s relationship with her image and past, referring to them as “ghosts.”
Drunk in Love featuring Jay-Z
Written by Noel Fisher ・Beyoncé Knowles ・Shawn Carter ・Andre Eric Proctor ・Rasool Diaz ・Brian Soko ・Timothy Mosley ・Jerome Harmon
Drunk in Love is a SONG!!! From a lyrical perspective, the song contains the main theme of the album and tackles female sexuality. The song has the singer expressing the enjoyment of sex that she has with her man. Drunk in Love featured Jay-Z and was dubbed the follow up to their 2003 collaboration Crazy in Love, which ironically turned 10 years old earlier that year.
The song was a massive hit on the charts, peaking at number one and two on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop & Hot 100 charts respectively.
Written by Pharrell Williams ・Beyoncé Knowles ・James Fauntleroy ・Timothy Mosley ・Jerome Harmon ・Justin Timberlake ・Terius Nash
Blow is one of the sexiest songs on the album, and was supposed to be one of the lead singles as well..but was scrapped for another song on the album. Blow contains elements of disco, funk & R&B, being reminiscent of songs from Prince, Janet & Michael Jackson. From a lyrical perspective, Blow speaks about oral sex and cunnilingus, and is similar to songs like Beyoncé’s Naughty Girl, Baby Boy & Speechless.
The song’s video was directed by the legendary Hype Williams, and it is truly one of my favorite videos from the album overall. It was filmed at a roller skating rink in Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, Texas and features baby sister Solange. The song went number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
Caroline Polachek • Beyoncé Knowles • James Fauntleroy
No Angel is one of my favorite songs from self-titled. A record with elements of chill wave, R&B, hip hip & trap music, No Angel is lyrically about the singer pointing her and her lover’s imperfections. That neither of them are perfect, and that is totally fine.
(contains hidden track Yoncé)
Written by Beyoncé Knowles • Terius Nash • Justin Timberlake • Timothy Mosley • Jerome Harmon • Dwane Weir • Mike Dean
This song is broken into two parts: the first part is titled Yoncé, and the other was titled Partition.
Yoncé is the birth of the singer’s new alter-ego, and has her singing and rapping about being assertive with her sexuality in the club.
Partition is lyrically about the singer having sex with her man in the backseat of the car. I love everything about this song because it is Beyoncé is at her most comfortable being open and bold with her sexuality. The sexually explicit lyrics isn’t shocking coming from one of the most beautiful women in the world, but it definitely makes you want to be seductive with your man.
Written by Noel Fisher • Beyoncé Knowles • Lyrica Anderson • Andre Proctor • Brian Soko • Rasool Diaz • Jordy Asher
Jealous is my favorite song on self-titled. The R&B power ballad is so relatable with the lyrical content touching on themes like jealously, suspicion and revenge directed at her man when she suspects that he is cheating on her.
Written by Miguel Pimentel ・Beyoncé Knowles ・Justin Timberlake ・Timothy Mosley ・Jerome Harmon ・James Fauntleroy
If Rocket isn’t in your sex playlist, you need professional help. With elements of Neo-soul, funk, R&B, Rocket continues one of the important themes of self-titled..which is sexuality. It’s giving Prince & D’Angelo meets Beyoncé, and whew. It is truly flawless and one of her best works.
Mine featuring Drake
Written by Noah Shebib ・Aubrey Graham ・Beyoncé Knowles ・Jordan Ullman ・Sidney Brown ・Dwane Weir
Mine is a SONG! Featuring Drake, Mine is lyrically about doubts in regards to marriage and motherhood, and Drake tries to find light at the end of the tunnel with his verse in the song. Mine peaked in the top 10 on the UK R&B charts.
Written by Terius Nash ・Ryan Tedder ・Beyoncé Knowles
XO is definitely one of the highlights of the album, musically and visually. A power pop record with elements of R&B, XO is a musical departure from the album as a whole. Lyrically, XO is a song that celebrates love and life through hopefulness after dark times. The song was a huge hit on the US & UK R&B charts, peaking at number 12 and 4 respectively.
***Flawless featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This song is broken into two parts: the first part is titled Bow Down, and the second part is titled ***Flawless.
Bow Down is a snippet of the Bow Down/I Been On record she dropped earlier that year in the spring of 2013. The song paid homage to Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, Texas. The song received controversy for the singer aggressively chanting “Bow down bitches,” coming off as egotistical (which we know Beyoncé should be, and rightfully so cause she’s the QUEEN).
I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife.. don’t get it twisted, get it twisted. This my shit, bow down bitches!Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, 2013
However, she explained that she woke up angry and aggressive and went in the studio and felt the need to let the people know what time it is! Like Bey is far from a cocky individual, but hey sometimes you gotta let the doubters and naysayers know what time it is.
***Flawless is a continuation of Bow Down, containing samples of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech We Should All Be Feminists.
The song has become one of Beyoncé’s most experimental and influential records, and is the most culturally relevant track on the album.
My mama taught me good home training, my daddy taught me how to love my haters, my sister told me I should speak my mind..My man make me feel so goddamn fine, I’m flawless!Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, 2013
***Flawless contains a sample of the Jay-Z’s 2013 record Crown.
Superpower featuring Frank Ocean
Written by Pharrell Williams ・Frank Ocean ・Beyoncé Knowles
Superpower is a R&B & doo-wop ballad with Frank Ocean that speaks about the strength & power of love from a relationship.
Written by Jordan Asher Cruz ・Beyoncé Knowles
Heaven always makes me emotional, because it reminds me of my grandmothers that passed away. Lyrically, the song is about saying a final goodbye to a beloved person.
Written by Jordan Asher Cruz ・Beyoncé Knowles
The album closes with the touching and remarkable Blue, which is dedicated to her beautiful oldest child.
Beyoncé is truly a musical genius. I’ve always adored and appreciated her craft and artistry, because she just gets it. Period. She can do no wrong in my eyes. self-titled truly is an album that is truly flawless and will forever go down as a monumental moment in pop culture history. -MW.