'Amy!' I shouted through the sounds of shower water running through the bathroom door. 'Can you hear me?' I was panting. 'AMY? CAN. YOU. HEAR. ME.' The water stopped.
'What?' she said, urgently. 'What happened?'
'Beyoncé released a new album. It dropped overnight.'
Silence. We both let the words sink in (and not just because I used the expression "dropped".)
For a Beyoncé fan, aka almost all human beings with the ability to bump and grind, those words stop time, and as my housemate and I stood in our kitchen - her, dripping wet, me, purple from yelling - we listened to and then watched each track, one by one, faces in awe and breathing staggered, realising that we had received the best Christmas present a music artist could ever give her fans.
She spoke directly to us.
With no hype, no promo vids, no special announcements, just a note on Instagram to say "SURPRISE!" and a follow-up statement, Beyoncé bypassed music journalists who tell us what to think and gossip columnists who speculate on what the lyrics really mean and she said: For you, fans.
A shrewder observer might say her marketing innovation knows no bounds, that her digital team truly understand the power of the Internet and how, in this, The Future, we consume content. A die-hard #beysus follower won't hear of it. We know that she gets it. She makes music for us, and BOOM. She just went and broke the world wide web proving how.
A lot was made of the fact that on her world tour she banned all external paparazzi from the stalls, installing only her own professional photographer to capture the glory of her performances. It's not right! cried critics. She's controlling her own image to a derange degree! they said. No other artist does this! Well yeah, to all of those things. But look whose laughing now, because, so?
Hush, world's media. We, her die-hard fans, inhale each Tumblr post, every international ad campaign, all of her singles and albums and remixes and videos because that is the art she wishes the world to see, and it's a gift no other living artist goes to the trouble of carving out. None of this "Katy Perry suffers like you do too," and "Rihanna never said she wanted to be a role model" humanness. Beyoncé lives as art, setting rules in the most prime example pop has in a declaration of self not even Gaga manages. This is her best example yet: the most feminist record (existence) in the charts.
She knows who she is, and she encourages us to experiment, to go deeper, to discover the same. This is an album that preaches the most precious of all commodities: love. Love for her husband, love for her baby, love for her fans, and within all that, love for herself.
BEYONCÉ teaches us self worth. She's a family woman who takes pleasure in getting some from the hubby she is in absolute adoration of, with the rude lyrics and dirty beats of Blow serving as the filthiest ode to oral sex since I watched a bit of porn on Tuesday night. Partition is a song makes you want to be married simply to have a husband on which to lay the moves she suggests in that video. She's not shagging every guy in the club: she's telling us how good it can be when you commit yourself to just one man.
'Don't think I'm just his little wife,' she warns, though, in Flawless, taking the time to explain to us that we don't have to shrink ourselves to be loved, and that's the whole point. We can have it all, she's telling us, with the right fella. Pretty hurts beats any Lily Allen satire on the plastic surgery industry, urging us to get a spiritual uplift, not a boob job, and snippets in ode to her own history illustrate how hard she has worked and the set-backs we all, inevitably, experience to truly fulfill our potential. Finally, baby Blue Ivy features as the pinnacle of what this thing called life might just be all about, which let's face it: Miley ain't teaching us shit on that.
This album is the spiritual offering of a modern day icon. Life, love, laughter. Hard work. Dreams. Belief. By totally skewering how album releases, music videos, promotion, is normally done, Beyoncé is proving what it is to be a woman in control and she's not doing it for any other reason to than to tell us, her loyal worshippers, that it is all for us, in service, in love.
All hail the Queen.
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