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Beyonce Releases Surprise Album

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25 April 2016
beyonce-lemonade
Beyoncé, who in 2013 changed the rules for how pop superstars deliver music with the surprise simultaneous release of a self-titled album and corresponding videos, has returned with a follow-up in the same vein: “Lemonade,” the singer’s sixth solo album, arrived on Saturday night after the HBO premiere of an hourlong, conceptual short film based around the music.



In a twist that played the personal off the professional, the new album and its accompanying visuals — which describe, in sometimes brutal detail, the tribulations of Beyoncé as a scorned lover — were made available to stream Saturday night exclusively on Tidal, the music streaming service owned by her husband, Jay Z. The album is not yet for sale as a download through any digital retailers.

“Lemonade” is “based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing,” Tidal said in an announcement.

The album’s 12 tracks feature contributions from the Weeknd, James Blake, Jack White and Kendrick Lamar; the songs sample or draw on a varied slate of artists including Led Zeppelin, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Soulja Boy and Animal Collective, with production from Just Blaze, Diplo and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. The HBO special, which was shot primarily in New Orleans, featured cameos from Serena Williams and Jay Z, with spoken-word interludes from Beyoncé, local residents and others. The videos were directed by Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, Todd Tourso, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jonas Akerlund, Mark Romanek and Beyoncé.

Beyoncé has spent most of 2016 so far dropping hints about the release. Instead of merely repeating the 2013 stunt of the surprise album, the singer deftly exploited the expectation that she would do it again, with cryptic hints on social media, including photos of the singer with lemons.

The 2013 album, “Beyoncé,” sold 365,000 copies in the United States on its first day before debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Instead of slowly building momentum with advanced singles and promotional appearances, as had been the tradition for pop stars, artists like Drake, D’Angelo and J. Cole have followed Beyoncé’s lead by relying on the wave of social-media excitement that comes with an unexpected release.

Beyoncé has since noted her own industry influence in song: “Changed the game with that digital drop/Know where you was when that digital popped/I stopped the world,” she boasted on Nicki Minaj’s “Feeling Myself.”

“Lemonade,” which features songs titled “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Daddy Lessons” and “Love Drought,” may also be Beyoncé’s most outwardly personal work to date. The videos, heavy on Southern gothic imagery, are broken up with title cards that play on the Kübler-Ross model of grief — intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability, reformation — as Beyoncé addresses years of tabloid speculation about her marriage head-on.

There is, however, a happy ending. In addition to having made the album a Tidal exclusive, Beyoncé concludes the “Lemonade” film with a love song featuring footage of the happy couple with their young daughter, Blue Ivy. “My grandma said nothing real can be threatened,” Beyoncé says in a voice-over. “True love brought salvation back into me. With every tear came redemption and my torturer became my remedy. So we’re gonna heal.”

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