.

'Beyonce' Breakdown: The Ultimate Guide to Bey's Surprise New Album

A deep listen to the LP everyone was waiting for and no one expected

Beyonce performs in Rio de Janeiro.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images
December 13, 2013 1:40 PM ET

Beyoncé surprised the world with a brand-new "visual album" at midnight. Here's a listening guide as you make your way through the follow-up to 2011's 4.

Beyoncé and 49 more of the best live acts right now

Number of songs: 14

Number of videos: 17

Best song: "Drunk in Love," like "Crazy in Love," now with 100 percent more drunkenness

Longest song: "Rocket," 6:31

Corniest ballad: "Heaven"

Best beat: Hit-Boy’s psychedelic trapstep strutter on "Flawless"

Song where Beyoncé relays some less-than-excellent advice from her mom: "Pretty Hurts," which opens with the line "Mama said, you're a pretty girl / What's in your head it doesn't matter / Brush your hair, fix your teeth / What you wear is all that matters"

Song where we get an excellent feminist freestyle from Nigarian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "Flawlesss," where we're asked to think on why "we teach girls that they can not be sexual beings in the way boys are"

Creepiest video: "Haunted"

NSFW-est video: "Partition," though "Drunk in Love" is a close second

Artiest video: "Mine"

Video where we get a revealingly down-to-earth tour of Beyoncé's native Houston: "No Angel"

Video with a genius cameo from Harvey Keitel: "Pretty Hurts"

Song with a bitchin’ electro-Banghra-orchestral kush-funk throbber of a beat that goes on for over six minutes and kind of sounds like an outtake from the last Justin Timberlake record: "Partition"

Monster ballad where Beyoncé's cheating man is out with some other woman even though Bey is home cooking for him while naked: "Jealous" (what an idiot)

Sleepy Drake cameo track that goes on too long despite a sweet breathy Bey vocal and a beat that feels like it was produced by DeNiro’s apartment in Heat: "Mine"

Best example of Beyoncé rapping on the album: "Partition"

Hottest slinky Seventies electro-soul jammy: "Blow" 

Prettiest slinky Eighties electro-soul jammy: "No Angel," co-written by Caroline Polachek, of Brooklyn indie synth-pop band Chairlift (find out how she wound up on the record here!)

Artist Jay-Z gratuitously references in his "Drunk in Love" freestyle: Andy Warhol (Jay, we get it, you like pinning shit on your wall – including your wife)

Things Beyoncé asks us to do to her in "Haunted": slap, kiss, bite

Best opening line: "Let me sit this aaaaaass on you, show you how I feel," from the sumptuously asstastic "Rocket"

Song with sexy-sexified candy-as-(oral?) sex lyrics that’ll make you want to have sex, preferably with Beyoncé: "Blow"

Song where Beyoncé gets her "mom blown away by the wonder of parenting" on: "Blue," featuring heart-rippingly adorable vocals from her daughter. In the video she and Blue play at the beach. Too cute!

Song where Blue Ivy becomes the youngest co-producer in the history of pop music: "Blue" Even cuter!

Beyoncé's aspiration in life (according to "Pretty Hurts"): "To be happy"    

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com