1. “Pretty Hurts”: Beyonce opens the album with an assault on society’s insatiable need for physical perfection. “Perfection is a disease of a nation,” she sings. “Try to fix something/But you can’t fix what you can’t see/It’s the soul that needs the surgery.” Posing as “Miss 3rd Ward” http://youtu.be/3Spe7yQ6EFw in a beauty pageant, the singer highlights vomiting, plastic surgery and other ways in which we try to achieve an impossible ideal.
2. “Haunted”: This eerie track could double as the soundtrack for a softcore porn, with Beyonce, in her best coo, singing over a repeated piano stab & pounding, dance floor-friendly drums. It’s a slow, creeping burn; an erotic ballad that could work in the club at four in the morning. Imagine Trent Reznor remixing Madonna‘s “Justify My Love“. The visualhttp://youtu.be/HxJ3l4FuU7Q is equally frightening; part Korean horror film, part Lynchian psychosexual fantasy.
3. “Drunk in Love”: Over shimmering synths and skittering drums, Beyonce sing-raps about “waking up in kitchens wondering how the hell did this sh-t happen.” Husband Jay Z comes in to make an Andy Warhol reference yet again and rhyme about “foreplay in the foyer” & “sliding panties to the side.” One of the more overtly sexual tracks on the album, Beyonce accompanies the song with a video http://youtu.be/qoRKw16O_ME of her writhing around the beach in a black bikini, presumably hiding theWarhol tattoo Jay Z forced her to get.
4. “Blow”: a retro R&B vibe that is all about sex. Specifically oral sex. In one hook Beyonce sings “when you lick my Skittles/ It’s the sweetest in the middle.” Taste THAT rainbow! Timbaland appears later on for call and response with Beyonce over the sexy uptempo track. Matching the song’s retro vibe, the accompanying video http://youtu.be/SUaO0OoBsSo is set in a roller rink where Beyonce, looking like a gorgeous ’70s disco diva, skates in slow motion (with blacklights!)
5. “No Angel”: Over a midtempo trap beat, Beyonce reminds her lover that “you’re no angel, either.” Message here? She loves him more because she knows him entirely, accepting he’s not perfect. It makes sense both sonically and visually that the videohttp://youtu.be/FxcUxV8urJ8 is set in Beyonce‘s Houston hometown ‘hood. There’s appearances from Texas hip hop stars likeBun B and Paul Wall, plus, a slow-mo look at Houston’s famous tricked-out car scene.
6. “Partition”: In this two-part club jam, Beyonce introduces a new alter ego: Yonce http://youtu.be/CwsPsqAJKCg. Yoncelikes Brooklyn, her grill, and being the hottest girl in the club. Think “Diva,” part 2. In the super sexy videohttp://youtu.be/Vlkrm8nLCJo
equivalent, appropriately titled “Yonce,” models Chanel Iman & Joan Smalls prance around in small clothes alongside Beyonce, also in small clothes. Smalls licks Beyonce‘s chest, so expect a GIF of that soon.
7. “Jealous”: a slow jam about Beyonce being jealous. “If you give me a promise/ I’m keeping mine,” she pleads with the mystery man who stood her up for dinner. In the video http://youtu.be/iqdbdQ6etso, instead of crying into the steak she made for her date, she puts on a leather trench coat and hits the town. Ultimately, she wins.
8. “Rocket”: Beyonce serving major D’Angelo vibes and the video http://youtu.be/iT56VtNSeR8
also looks like an ode to the R&B icon. It’s essentially a five-minute underwear commercial shot in black-and-white that becomes a shower commercial, complete with slow-motion water dripping off of her body. And there’s a sex scene!
9. “Mine” ft. Drake: As might be expected from a full album released by a major artist without warning at midnight, Beyonce is taking chances on this one. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that her Drake feature is less about his clever punchlines and more about moody atmospherics. Metronome-like percussion and the distorted, disembodied voice of Drizzy make this understated ballad float like a half-remembered dream. The video http://youtu.be/3IeOmXZ95i8 is a Jodorowsky-esque hallucination thanks to an inferno and Beyonce wearing a mask of her own face.
10. “XO”: Maybe the most uplifting pop song since Florence + the Machine‘s “Shake It Up,” the chorus about “darkest nights” lit up by “your face” is augmented by a “whoa, oh-AAAH-oh” refrain that could brighten any Eeyore‘s day. A looped organ riff & electronic flourishes and quirky levels of sonic interest previously unheard on Beyonce‘s albums. As for the videohttp://youtu.be/IxXwnoVPNGM
takes place in an amusement park at nighttime and shows Beyonce at her most flippant, casual best.
11. “***Flawless” ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: what the gangsta-inspired joint (leaked earlier this year),”Bow Down,” morphed into. It begins & ends with vintage footage http://youtu.be/Tc8hyBfoBZg of Girls Tyme, the Houston rap group that would turn into Destiny’s Child, competing on Star Search. It also features a spoken word creed against sexism (ala Madonna‘s “What It Feels Like For a Girl”) by famed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of best-selling African novelHalf of a Yellow Sun.
12. “Superpower” ft. Frank Ocean: Beyonce & Frank harmonize about unbelievable ways love makes a couple feel, “I thought the world would revolve without us / But nothing I know could slow us down / I thought I could live without you / ‘Cause nothing I know could break us down.” The video http://youtu.be/
Pe2uVbLltQs has Beyonce leading a pack of fashionable rebels, reminiscent of Beyonce‘s “Run the World (Girls)” but this time guys are invited. And guess who joins her?Pharrell and Destiny’s Childs Kelly Rowland & Michelle Williams!
13. “Heaven”: Sounding like “Halo” Part II, “Heaven” is an understated piano ballad showcasing Beyonce‘s soaring vocals detailing someone taken too soon. There’s a sonic shift at the last 20 seconds where a female voice recites a prayer. In the videohttp://youtu.be/gogfeVUtK3s, Beyonce dons a high-fashion look to meditate at a church amid flashbacks of a friend she lost. Look for a flashback where Beyonce and two friends throw off their tops and jump into a pool!
14. “Blue” ft. Blue Ivy: “Sometimes I feel these walls seem to cave in on me / But when I look in your eyes I feel alive.” Listen for the last 30 seconds. The video shows Beyonce‘s travel footage of mother & daughter — Jay meets them on the beach!