The Essential Guide To Beyonce’s Surprise Album

  • 1 pretty hurts 1

  • 1 pretty hurts 2

  • 1 pretty hurts 3

  • 1 pretty hurts 4

  • 1 pretty hurts 5

  • 2 haunted 1

  • 2 haunted 2

  • 2 haunted 3

  • 2 haunted 4

  • 2 haunted 5

  • drunk in love 1

  • drunk in love 3

  • drunk in love 4

  • drunk in love 6

  • drunk in love 5

  • 4blowA

  • 4blowB

  • 4blowC

  • 4blowD

  • 4blowE

  • 5_No_Angel_A

  • 5_No_Angel_B

  • 5_No_Angel_C

  • 5_No_Angel_D

  • 5_No_Angel_E

  • 6_Partition_A

  • 6_Partition_B

  • 6_Partition_C

  • 6_Partition_D

  • 6_Partition_D

  • 7-Jealous-A

  • 7-Jealous-B

  • 7-Jealous-C

  • 7-Jealous-D

  • 7-Jealous-E

  • 8-Rocket-A

  • 8-Rocket-B

  • 8-Rocket-C

  • 8-Rocket-D

  • 8-Rocket-E

  • 9MineA

  • 9MineB

  • 9MineC

  • 9MineD

  • 9MineE

  • xo 1

  • xo 2

  • xo 3

  • xo 4

  • xo 5

  • 11 flawless 1

  • 11 flawless 2

  • 11 flawless 3

  • 11 flawless 4

  • 11 flawless 5

  • 12 superpower 1

  • 12 superpower 2

  • 12 superpower 3

  • 12 superpower 4

  • 12 superpower 5

  • 13_heaven_A

  • 13_heaven_B

  • 13_heaven_C

  • 13_heaven_D

  • 13_heaven_E

  • 14_blue_A

  • 14_blue_B

  • 14_blue_C

  • 14_blue_D

  • 14_blue_E

Stop the presses! All y’all news organizations who already printed your Top 10 Lists for 2013 need to go back and print an addendum, stat, because Beyoncé dropped an album out of the blue (Ivy!) overnight. Sure, a few weeks ago we (lightly) admonished King Bey for failing to release an album in 2013, but as of this morning, we BOW DOWN before King Bey and take everything back. Beyoncé’s self-titled Beyoncé is a game-changer not only because it broke every rule in the book about music marketing, but because it arrived complete with VIDEOS FOR EVERY SONG ON THE ALBUM!

VH1 has been deep in Beyoncé world since this album materialized earlier today, analyzing every song lyric and watching (and re-watching) every single video over and over again for clues into the life of Mrs. Carter and the rest of her famous family, hubby Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy Carter. So, as you get through your work day and prepare to watch/listen to the whole Beyoncé album tonight, we’ve got your back. Take a gander at The Essential Guide To Beyoncé’s Surprise Album, which includes screencaps of the most iconic images, sexiest GIFs, and insightful/hilarious analysis of all fourteen tracks on the album. ENJOY!

SONG: 1. “Pretty Hurts”
KEY LYRICS: “It’s the soul that needs a surgery” and “Blonder hair, flat chest, TV says ’Bigger is better.'”

Beyoncé delivers a real punch in the gut with “Pretty Hurts,” which details the struggle for inner happiness in a world focused on outward appearances. She shout outs her hometown of Houston (and her moniker Third Ward Trill) in the video as Miss 3rd Ward, a struggling pageant girl collapsing emotionally under the pressure to be perfect. The video shows Miss 3rd Ward telling the pageant audience that her “aspiration in life is to be happy,” and ends with a clip of baby Bey accepting an award as a kid. Surely there’s some autobiographical threads weaved deep through out “Pretty Hurts.”

Warning: you will cry watching this video.
Warning: a model eats a cotton ball in this video.—Kate Spencer

SONG: 2. “Haunted”
KEY LYRICS: “My haunted lungs, ghost in the sheets, I know if I’m haunting you you must be haunting me” and “Slap me. I’m pinned to the doorway. Kiss. Bite. Foreplay.”

If Ryan Murphy was hoping to make American Horror Story: Beyoncé, he’s too late – the Queen just beat him to it. Yes, the video for “Haunted” is essentially an extended opening credits for the hit show, full of freaks and shrieks with some sexy butt-shaking and erotic lyrics mixed in. It’s got a short film feel, as the song doesn’t start until almost two minutes in, and features Bey leisurely gyrating in black lace lingerie while wearing—what else—a crown. Don’t let the vulnerability on some of the other tracks fool you; in “Haunted” Beyonce’s lusty, powerful, dominatrix side is still in full effect.—Kate Spencer

“Drunk In Love”

“Your breasts is my breakfast.”

SONG: 3. “Drunk In Love”
GUEST: Jay Z (aka Mr. Carter)
KEY LYRICS: “Why can’t I keep my fingers off you?”, “Feelin’ like an animal with all these cameras in my grill,” and “Sleep tight/ We sex again in the morning / Your breasts is my breakfast” (the latter courtesy of Jay Z)

“I’ve been drinkin’, I’ve been drinkin'” Beyoncé confesses right at the top of this track, the Hype Williams-directed video of which showcases a wet, bikini-clad Bey emerging from the sea clutching a trophy of some sort (if you’re thinking it sounds a bit like her video for “Baby Boy,” you’re not far off). Turns out the trophy is a metaphor for Jay Z, who appears later in the video and cops to his unquenchable thirst for King Bey’s B-Milk (see the aforementioned “Your breasts is my breakfast”). Speaking of metaphors, Beyonce compares her husband’s you-know-what to a surfboard (“Grinding on that wood”) during a romp in the tub after a night out at the club. After the drinks have been drunk and the sex has been sexed, the two end up waking up in the kitchen—shades of 9 1/2 Weeks, perhaps?—saying “Oh baby, how the hell did this sh*t happen?” In a good way, though!—Mark Graham


“Tear that cherry out,” Beyonce commands. Yes ma’am!

SONG: 4. “Blow”
GUEST: Bey does the vocals all by her self, but Timbaland and Pharrell produced and co-wrote the track, and Justin Timberlake has a co-writer credit, too
KEY LYRICS: “Keep me coming, keep me going / Keep me home and keep me moaning” and “Can you eat the Skittles? / It’s the sweetest in the middle / Pink is the flavor / Solve the riddle”

This track leaps off the proverbial page, and might just be the dirtiest rollerskating jam since Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls.” Speaking of rollerskating, the Hype Williams-directed video takes place largely inside an ’80s-tastic roller rink, with Bey and a bunch of her guy and galpals working the four-wheel motion. There’s also an extended sequence in the video that finds Beyonce begging her man to “tear that cherry out,” which she sings while grinding atop the hood of a Ferrari (eat your heart out, Tawny Kitaen!). If you couldn’t tell from the key lyrics above, this song is all about Bey’s desire (commands?) for her man to go down on her. It’s an extremely sexual song from the not-that-innocent Beyoncé, one that reminds us more than a little of Prince at his horniest. TASTE THE RAINBOW, Y’ALL!—Mark Graham

Fuelin’ up her ’63 Falcon.

SONG: 5. “No Angel”
KEY LYRICS: “I know I drive you crazy but would you rather that I be a machine/That doesn’t notice when you’re late or when you’re lyin'” and of course, “You’re no angel either”

On the surface it sounds like a classic fake-out love song (popularized by Billy Joel with “Just The Way You Are”), where the singer lists all sorts of reasons why their partner kind of sucks, before turning it around and admitting that they love them for all those same imperfections. But some of Bey’s lyrics seem a little too barbed to be taken quite so lightly -particularly “when you’re late and when you’re lyin.'” Hey now, those are fighting words! Is this a reference to rumors of Jay’z many affairs? Is he lying about why he’s coming home late? Is there trouble in Bey’s Queendom?

Or maybe they just like to get bad in bed together. That’s definitely an option, too.—Jordan Runtagh

Beyonce can look sexy even in a bedazzled swimming cap.

SONG: 6. “Partition”
KEY LYRICS: “Driver, roll up the partition, please/I don’t want you to see ’Yonce on her knees/Took 45 minutes to get all dressed up/We ain’t even gonna make it to this club” and “Chauffeur eavesdropping trying not to crash”

King Bey goes full scale contessa in this steamy track, a kind of sequel to “Naughty Girl,” in which she urges her driver to roll up the limo partition so she and Hova can have sex on the go (AKA, the 50-Mile-An-Hour Club), away from prying eyes and ears. With references to buttons popping, blouses ripping, mascara running and lipstick smudging, it’s hot, heavy and definitely evocative. For anyone who’s always wanted to get down in the back of a vintage Rolls (who hasn’t?), or imagine the specifics of Jay Z having mobile dad-sex with Beyonce (who hasn’t?), this song is for you.—Jordan Runtagh

“Jealous” – Beyonce shoves everything off a table in one fell swoop.

SONG: 7. “Jealous”
KEY LYRICS: “I’m in my penthouse half-naked/I cooked this meal for you naked” and “Sometimes I want to walk in your shoes/Do the things that I never ever do”

“Jealous” not only contains some of the most potent and glorious imagery of Beyoncé in the entire video album (i.e. Beyoncé shoving everything off the table in one glorious swoop), but it also returns to the theme of Jay Z’s alleged infidelity. Beyoncé not only seems to feel jealous of Jay’s straying eyes, but also his liberty as a man to go out and misbehave. The resolution of the video is Beyoncé being reunited with her man once more, so I guess everything is still cool between King Jay and King Bey.—Meghan O’Keefe

“Rocket” – Beyonce’s butt.

SONG: 8. “Rocket”
KEY LYRICS: “So rock right up to/The side of my mountain/Climb until you reach my peak babe, my peak, the peak” and “Got me screaming to the Lord, boy/Kiss me/Pray we don’t overflow”

This video has only been out since midnight last night and I’m pretty sure thousands of children have already been conceived to it. Never before has so much focus been given to Bey’s every voluptuous curve, toned muscle, raised goosebumps and bleached strands of bed head. If “Jealous” is about Beyoncé coveting her man’s full and undivided attention, then “Rocket” is about the world lusting after Beyoncé.—Meghan O’Keefe

SONG: 9. “Mine”
GUEST: Drake
KEY LYRICS: “Been having conversations about breakups and separations/I’m not feeling like myself since the baby/Are we gonna even make it?”

Sounds like Jay Z and Beyoncé hit a bit of a rough patch post-baby birth. Might have something to do with the “Yours” and “Mine” theme throughout the song. Fortunately, the two are going strong now – maybe Drake played marriage counselor?—Samantha Friedman

SONG: 10. “XO”
DIRECTOR: Terry Richardson
KEY LYRICS: “Baby love me lights out” and “I love it like XO/You love me like XO”

Baby Blue Ivy’s childhood wonder is rubbing off on her mama, because this Coney Island-shot video is fun-filled. Beyoncé hits all the best rides (and music notes) and shows she has two central romances in her life. One with Jay-Z, and one with the fans. —Samantha Friedman

SONG: 11. “***Flawless”
SONG: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
SONG: “Bow down bitches”

Remember when Bey dropped “Bow Down/I Been On” in the spring? Now “Bow Down” has been blown out into a full-length track for the album. The song is definitely Bey’s most defiant record, which flips the term ‘bitches’ onto men. Also featured on the track is Igbo writer Adichie, who can be heard speaking about women being held down by society. Not any more! At least not in Bey’s world.—Stacy Lambe

SONG:12. “Superpower”
SONG: Frank Ocean
SONG:“I thought the world would revolve without us / But nothing I know could slow us down”

First the song: It’s pure sex. All the vocals blending together in a passionate Pharrell Williams-produced track. Then Frank Ocean chimes in and oooh, girl! I need a moment.
Now for the video, directed by Jonas Akerlund (“Ray of Light”). This is Bey’s version of Les Miz meets Red Dawn. It has everything: revolution, underboob, fierce walking in garages, smashed glass, Destiny’s Child and riot police. There’s a movement taking shape and Bey’s the leader.—Stacy Lambe

SONG: 13. “Heaven”
KEY LYRICS: “Heaven couldn’t wait for you”

Beyoncé has obviously lost someone very close to her in this song, presumably her best friend. The video features shots of Beyoncé’s somber moments at church and a cemetery. Those sad scenes are juxtaposed with happier times, showing Bey hanging with her bestie at a tattoo parlor, hiking, and skinny dipping. Though Bey may be experiencing loss, she feels there’s something bigger at work and that her pal is at peace.

Though it’s a touching track, the ballad probably wouldn’t work as a single. Its heavy vocals are amazing, but the lyrics aren’t particularly varied or strong. The video’s imagery provides a major boost to the song, but anyone who’s had to suddenly say goodbye to a loved one this year will feel it’s a standout track.—Rasheeda Ali

SONG: 14. “Blue”
GUEST: Blue Ivy Carter
KEY LYRICS: “Come on baby, won’t you hold on to me/Hold on to me”

Even with the world at her fingertips, it seems Beyoncé isn’t immune to all of life’s pressures. But she’s got someone to get her through those tough times: Blue Ivy Carter!

“Blue” opens with soft piano chords and on the first few bars, Beyoncé tests her octave range by hitting some uncharacteristically high notes. She adds more layers to track’s composition as the song progresses, including a bossa nova-inspired and synth claps, so seamlessly that you almost miss them.

The video appears to have been filmed entirely in Brazil, presumably during the South American leg of Bey’s tour. In addition to seeing the sights, Beyoncé chills with Blue Ivy throughout the clip and they’re joined by Jay Z toward the end of the clip, rounding out the perfect family vacay!—Rasheeda Ali