Pre-release hype for an album seems to drag on forever sometimes. We're inundated with interviews and images of the artist touching various studio apparatuses to confirm that they're indeed working on something; then there are track list, album art, and guest spot announcements before the viral and in-ernest marketing campaigns even roll out. With all of that going on, it's almost as if the artist is daring you not to get completely sick of him or her by the time the album finally comes out. *cough* Miley *cough* Another way to go about things, however, is to pull what will now be known as "a Beyoncé."
In the wee hours of Thursday, December 12, Queen Bey dropped a surprise album exclusively on iTunes. There had been hints of late that the artist would be putting out new music sometime in 2014, hints which have been revealed to be wonderful misdirection. Skirting any possible chance of leakage somehow, the self-titled LP simply appeared on iTunes, accompanied by the twin flanks of Instagram and Facebook announcements—and disrupting the standard surprise format Radiohead established in 2007, from "Hey, we have an album coming out in 10 days!" to "You can buy my album right now!"
Beyoncé describes her new one as a "visual album," featuring 14 songs and 17 videos. The digital booklet included also features a distinct image for each song. Luminaries like Drake, Frank Ocean, and of course, Mr. Beyoncé, a/k/a Jay Z, all make appearances. Earlier this year, it seemed like Jay Z would be the only one in this family to ambush the world with a hype-circumventing truncated release cycle. Appearances are deceiving. Also, like Jay Z, Beyoncé couldn't resist putting daughter Blue Ivy on a song with her—track 14, appropriately titled "Blue". That little girl probably already has more publishing royalties than most music industry lifers.