In case there was any confusion, let me make this clear: No one can top Beyonce. While North America slept, the Queen B dropped a new album, The Visual Album, filled with 14 new songs, a digital booklet of photos, and--get ready for this--17 new music videos. As if that wasn't really impressive enough, the list of Bey's celeb collaborators is endless; here are just some of the people who helped to make her epic release a reality: Sia, Harvey Keitel, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Drake, The Dream, Pharrell Williams, Timberland, Caroline Polachek, Frank Ocean, Ed McMahon, and Terry Richardson. Oh, and we can't forget her daughter Blue Ivy, featured on the album's final track "Blue."
Like any good music journalist, I spent the entire morning, literally, listening to the album and watching, scrutinizing, and enjoying the music videos. So if you want to find out everything cool, shocking, exciting, or weird in Bey's latest oeuvre, meet me in the gallery where we can discuss that Lady Gaga appearance, why Joan Smalls licked Beyonce's chest, and exactly how many Chanel outfits is the right amount.
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THE SONG VIBE: Anthem-pop with inspirational message LYRICS TO KNOW: "Perfection is a disease of a nation." THE VIDEO VIBE: A beauty pageant with Harvey Keitel the pageant director, Shaun Ross as her dance instructor, and Diandra Forrest as her top competition. SCENE TO KNOW: Beyonce belting out her song in a star-print dress and rhinestone rabbit ears.
"Ghost" (Video Only)
THE VIDEO VIBE: Rick Owens-meets-Haider Ackermann-meets Tumblr, all while wearing a Jil Sander dress. SCENE TO KNOW: Beyonce writing in a fabric tube. (Really, this one you need to see to understand.)
THE SONG VIBE: A Prince-style voiceover plus a raging '90s club beat. LYRICS TO KNOW: "Ghost in the sheets / I know if I'm haunting you / You must be haunting me" THE VIDEO VIBE: A hotel of horrors featuring Lady Gaga, Rose McGowan, and more creepy, high-fashion scenes. SCENE TO KNOW: Beyonce dancing with The Crazy Horse dancers...sans pants.
"Drunk in Love" (feat. Jay Z)
THE SONG VIBE: A chanting hip-hop infused love song for Jay Z LYRICS TO KNOW: "On the mic with my boy toy / Then I fill the bathtub half way / And ride it with my surfboard" THE VIDEO VIBE: A black and white beach dance party. SCENE TO KNOW: Jay Z holding a glass of liquor on the beach, as one does.
THE SONG VIBE: Power pop with naughty undertones LYRICS TO KNOW: "Ooh I had a naughty thought today baby" (That's really the only one without an explicit sexual innuendo....) THE VIDEO VIBE: It's an ultraviolet roller disco! There's roller rink twerking, Solange on a low rider bike, blue eyeshadow galore, and a very sensual break down on top of a red convertible with a neon sign reading "Cherry" in the background. SCENE TO KNOW: The shoe rental twerking dance sequence, obviously.
THE SONG VIBE: A bass-thumping slow jam LYRICS TO KNOW: "You're no angel either baby" THE VIDEO VIBE: Vignettes of people in Houston and Beyonce in a white fur coat and cowboy hat. Texas forever. SCENE TO KNOW: The pee-wee football game because if we know anything about Texas it's that football is a big deal.
"Yonce" (video Only)
THE VIDEO VIBE: Beyonce, Joan Smalls, Chanel Iman, and Jourdan Dunn hang out and act like babes together. SCENE TO KNOW: When Joan Smalls licks Beyonce. Or when Beyonce raps "I sneezed on the beat / And the beat got sicker"
THE SONG VIBE: This is the one to dirty dance to. LYRICS TO KNOW: "Est-ce que tu aimes le sexe?" THE VIDEO VIBE: Lots of dirty dancing. Lots. SCENE TO KNOW: Beyonce in all leopard lingerie dancing around like whoa.
THE SONG VIBE: R&B grooves LYRICS TO KNOW: "Sometimes I want to walk in your shoes / Do the type of things that I'll never ever do" THE VIDEO VIBE: Beyonce wants to be a normal lady, guys! She starts out in her expensive penthouse, leaves and attempts to go for a walk in a red leather trench, and then reunites with Jay Z on an empty street. SCENE TO KNOW: When Bey gets spotted by America's Next Top Model contestant, Renee, from Cycle 20!
"Mine" (feat. Drake)
THE SONG VIBE: The rap ballad LYRICS TO KNOW: ""Let's stop holding back on this / And let's get carried away" THE VIDEO VIBE: Artistic dance sequences meets epically elegant wide shots and cross fades. SCENE TO KNOW: When two dancers re-enact Rene Magritte's The Lovers in with T-shirts reading "Mine" covering their faces instead of sheets
THE SONG VIBE: Techno-pop LYRICS TO KNOW: "You heart is glowing / And I'm crashing into you" THE VIDEO VIBE: Directed by Terry Richardson, this the video shot in Coney Island everyone was buzzing about this summer. It's a summertime party! SCENE TO KNOW: When Beyonce rides the rollercoaster in Coney Island.
"Flawless" (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)
THE SONG VIBE: Dirty beats and nobody-effs-with-B lyrics LYRICS TO KNOW: "Bow down, bitches" THE VIDEO VIBE: Grimey dancing, flannel shirts, headbanging. SCENE TO KNOW: The opening shot of Beyonce on star search, and the closing shot where she loses to a band no one had ever heard of.
"Superpower" (feat. Frank Ocean)
THE SONG VIBE: Retro-sampling, operatic R&B LYRICS TO KNOW: "The laws of the world have never stopped us once" THE VIDEO VIBE: Beyonce and co. revolt against "The Man." SCENE TO KNOW: The shot of Beyonce and her gang including Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Pharrell Williams
THE SONG VIBE: Teary-eyed ballad LYRICS TO KNOW: "Heaven couldn't wait for you" THE VIDEO VIBE: Set in a church and then a cemetery with happy flashbacks, this is the video where you start crying uncontrollably while you watch. SCENE TO KNOW: Beyonce entering the chapel in some Chanel pre-fall '13 look 76. Even when she's tearing up, Beyonce looks like a queen.
THE SONG VIBE: The national anthem of Blue Ivy LYRICS TO KNOW: "When I look in your eyes, I feel alive" THE VIDEO VIBE: Footage of Beyonce's trip to Brazil SCENE TO KNOW: When Bey gets up and dances with a youth soccer team
"Grown Woman" (Video Only)
THE VIDEO VIBE: The ultimate archive of adorable Beyonce footage meets the internet SCENE TO KNOW: The one pictured above--crown, Chanel Haute Couture dress, trophy, scotch... what more do you need in life?