Hi folks. I've had a bit of a challenge over the past week, 'cause typically for this column I like to talk about one video and one video alone, but I feel like I am unable to do this. I am unable to do this because this weekend I bought Beyonce, the new out-of-nowhere Beyonce album that came into this world seemingly out of nowhere this past Friday, and it has lorded over my thoughts ever since. Because not only is it a 14-track album, but it's also seventeen music videos - that's a video for every song, plus a bonus track. And this isn't just a random assortment of videos released as a fun bonus for fans - these videos were clearly designed to be watched all together, in sequence. Like a visual album!!
Honestly, this was too much for me to resist. The HUGE POP MUSIC EVENT hype surrounding was enough to convince me to plunk down $15.99 for this record, and gosh - gosh. I'm so happy I did, everyone. I'm so happy I did.
It's tough, because as of this writing I am talking about a series of music videos that you're only going to be able to see if you pay for a record many have criticized as overpriced. So in terms of actual video content, there's not a whole lot I can show you. What I CAN do, though, is give you an idea of the kind of experience I had watching these videos, because it was unique and I'm not certain I'll ever have a pop music moment quite like this again.
I bought the album Saturday afternoon and waited for my girlfriend to get home from work. I perched my laptop on my legs, hit play, and we let it happen. Watched through every video, straight through. And it really wasn't quite like anything else I've experienced. I know a lot of artists have made music videos to complement every song on an album in the past - I'm pretty sure R.E.M. did it with their last album, and Kanye made Runaway which we've discussed here before - but Beyonce is something else. She's created a series of videos that run together, bleed into each other, the same way the record does. And they look so good. The production value is so high, and it doesn't let up. I've never seen a pop artist deliver this kind of consistent high-quality experience the way Beyonce has here.
It's just a beautiful, beautiful experience. It's so hard to dig into specifics, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone! But suffice it to say, Beyonce as a record is some of the most vulnerable and unusual music she's made, and the videos follow suit. "Haunted" goes for a glammed-up Shining homage; "Flawless"'s black and white grime dancing is just as amazingly vicious and power-fem as the song itself; "Superpower" is a postapocalyptic wonder; "Pretty Hurts" and "Jealous" are meticulous in their atmospheric sadness; and "Mine" has Drake in it. There's footage of Bey as a cute little girl. Fucking - ok, I'll spoil it, Harvey Keitel shows up, but it's right in the first video so it's not THAT much of a spoiler. Jay Z talks about "breastases for breakfast," which you can just hear on the album too, but in the VIDEO you get to SEE him SAY it.
I don't know what else to say. It's just a fabulous accomplishment from the most fabulous pop artist going right now. If you're a Beyonce fan and you've got the money, it is so worth the price I can't even tell you. Yes I know Christmas is coming up and you've gotta start spending money on other people, but gosh-heck, you owe this to yourself. It is a once in a lifetime pop experience, and if I could spend the next 17 posts of this column talking about every video here, I would. But that wouldn't be fair to all the lesser pop artists out there, aka "every pop artist who is not Beyonce." And I am anything but unfair!!
Here you go: I'm gonna leave you with the video for "XO," Beyonce's most uplifting and anthemic song on an album that is not known for its anthems. By comparison, this is one of the simpler and more straight-up vids in this collection, but it's charming and sweet and fun and fits the song to a T. Good for you, Beyonce. You're making everything so much better.