'Beyonce' Breakdown: The Ultimate Guide to Bey's Surprise New Album - Rolling Stone
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‘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

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”    

In This Article: Beyonce, Jay-Z


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