Beyonce releases surprise new album - first reviews

Do the pop star's saucy lyrics and videos put Miss Carter's sterling role model reputation at risk?

LAST UPDATED AT 13:10 ON Fri 13 Dec 2013

CRITICS have questioned whether the bold lyrics and videos on Beyonce's fifth solo album - released overnight with no warning - will put her "sterling" role model reputation at risk.

The album, self-titled Beyonce, went straight onto iTunes, temporarily crashing the site as fans rushed to download it.

It was the singer's decision not to release the music the way she'd done in the past. "I am bored with that,'' she said. "There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I didn't want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out."

The statement announcing the album's release described it as "an unprecedented strategic move", adding that this was music "stripped of gimmicks, teasers and marketing campaigns".

In fact, says The Guardian, the surprise release of music has become "the gimmick of choice of pop's superstar class". Radiohead, Raconteurs and David Bowie have all released albums with little warning. Beyonce's album is "a little different", says the newspaper, in that it comes as a multimedia package with 14 songs and 17 videos. It also credits her husband Jay Z, baby daughter Blue Ivy, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Drake in a "credits list longer than the average Hollywood blockbuster".

BBC Radio 1's Gemma Cairney describes the album as "quite raw" and says it feels as if some of the clips are home videos. "I quite like the DIY sense of it all," she says.

Miles Marshall Lewis, the arts and culture editor of Ebony, says the album mainly features "futuristic, sometimes tribal, mid-tempo" tracks.

"Sex is blatantly on the table too," he says, "in a way that may put Miss Carter's sterling role model reputation at risk. Tsk, tsk." He describes the lyrics in Blow as "squarely in sex kitten Janet Jackson or Madonna territory" and says it is "not exactly for the Girl Scouts".

Fuse TV also notes that there are a number of "overtly sexy" tracks. Haunted could "double as the soundtrack for a softcore porn", it says, with the video "part Korean horror film, part Lynchian psychosexual fantasy".

Blow is all about oral sex, it adds, while Rocket is "essentially a five-minute underwear commercial shot in black-and-white that soon becomes a shower commercial, complete with slow-motion water dripping off of her body". · 

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