Beyoncé in a New Light

photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Anna Erkalova, Assistant Editor

On December 13, Beyoncé surprised the world by releasing a fourteen track self-titled “visual album” without any marketing or previous announcements.

The sudden release resulted in a shockwave; 1.2 million tweets in half a day.

Made under wraps, “Lily” was the code name used to refer to the album, which was finalized only a week before release.

The CD went on to sell 617,213 copies within three days. Six days after release, one million were sold, and Beyoncé became the highest first-week selling album of her solo career.

The album has songs that range from pop to R&B; some artists who helped her produce it include Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Pharrell.

The album started under top secrecy in 2012 in the Hamptons along with famous pals Timbaland, Timberlake, and The Dream, and continued to be produced even as Beyoncé was on her world tour. In an interview with Vogue, she described the beginnings of the album in the Hamptons: “We had dinners with the producers every day, like a family… it was like a camp. Weekends off. You could go and jump in the pool and ride bikes… the ocean and grass and sunshine… it was really a safe place.”

All in all, Beyoncé recorded eighty songs.

The music videos were filmed secretly as Beyoncé traveled the world on her tour, and they include locations as diverse as Brazil, Coney Island, Paris, and South America. Beyoncé protected the release of her songs so well that when filming in public, she would listen to the music with headphones on to prevent songs from being leaked.

The album speaks deeply to feminism and darker themes like depression, anorexia, and the insecurities of womanhood. It also explores Beyoncé’s relationships with husband Jay-Z and Blue Ivy, her daughter, which she is usually unwilling to talk about in public.

“Pretty Hurts” exposes the extremes girls may go to in order to be judged the best looking and how unattainable those standards are. One lyric includes, “Blonder hair, flat chest/ TV says, ‘Bigger is better.’/ South beach, sugar free/ Vogue says, ‘Thinner is better.’” In the music video she also carries a trophy, which for her symbolized the loss of her childhood in favor of starting her music career.

“Flawless,” with a heavy bass, speaks to feminism. It includes a speech by Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie saying, “We raise girls to each other as competitors/ Not for jobs or for accomplishments…But for the attention of men.”

The last song of the album, “Blue,” includes clips of Blue Ivy speaking and intimate moments between Blue and her mother.

The album exposes much more of Beyoncé than we have ever seen and is a testament to the place she is in her life, at the height of both her career and family life.