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Music, album review of 'Beyonce' 2013': Reminder of why music videos matter

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Beyonce's self-titled CD and music videos for 'Beyonce' 2013


For '80s babies, having a visual to go with a song will never wear out. Digital downloads and CDs are cool, but being able to watch music videos at a fan's leisure brings back the days when MTV, BET and VH1 were hot for music instead of reality TV and reruns of the same movies. Watching Beyonce's 15 new videos on iTunes may make Generation X nostalgic for the days of The Box, too.

With Beyonce's self-titled debut, released at 11 p.m. CT, Thurs., Dec. 12, exclusively on iTunes, fans get to see a music video for all 14 songs plus a bonus video for "Grown Woman," the song featured in a Pepsi commercial.

"Pretty Hurts": It's no surprise that the video narrates the artist in a fake pageant contest where she's subjected to frowns due to weight gain, ointments sprayed in her face for a toned and tanned look, and fake smiling for the other winner. Fans don't often get to see Beyonce play "ugly," slumping down on the floor with her legs opened wide. Hopefully she will reach the women who either can relate and/or help those who are going through the same issues about society's standard of beauty.

"Haunted": Friday the 13th's reputation didn't stop Beyonce from releasing her CD, and judging from Billboard sales, bad luck is not in her future. But it's still fun to watch the video of a (literally) smoking Beyonce enter into a haunted mansion. Notice the hotel room number is her birthday, Sept. 4. The video gets a little artsy going from thugged out men playing cards to a woman wearing star pasties and a glitter thong, painting herself black with a paintbrush. The video would've been a lot cooler had it gone the scarier route, but it quickly morphed into a bunch of suggestive poses of Beyonce bending over with a jacket and a thong, staring into the screen. But the song is one of those dark, upbeat tracks that'll probably get a lot of plays in nightclubs that like to include glowsticks for the guests.

"Drunk in Love" feat. Jay Z: The video is rather boring for those not ogling Beyonce's body gyrating on a beach and in the water, holding a trophy for some inexplicable reason. It picks up tremendously when her husband Jay Z starts rapping and hugs her from behind. The hilarious face the couple make at the words "on site" at 4:37 is a peek into the humor they share. Around 6:02 she bursts into laughter and says "Stop it" before dropping her head into his shoulder to laugh again. If there was any question about how happy the two are, this video answers that.

"Blow": There's more sexy staring and suggestive poses, but the highlight of this video was watching Beyonce on an old-school bike wearing a cape. Once again, she blends humor with sex appeal, and the roller skating in the video brings childhood memories to mind. And fans get to see her sister, Solange Knowles, riding around with her.

"No Angel": Houston residents will be pretty impressed that she's repping for her hometown. Gold teeth. Father and son do private handshake. Car hood lifts up to represent for the 4th ward and gives an R.I.P. message to someone. Dogs behind gates. A view of Quik Stop Market. Strippers. Tattoos. Houston native rappers Paul Wall, Scarface and UGK's Bun B make cameo appearances. The video is a cool behind-the-scenes look into the other side of Beyonce. The problem is she's wearing a leotard and a white fur coat standing in front of a shack. This video would've been so much better had she tried to blend in through the entire video minus the one scene when she's pumping gas. The lyrics also don't fit the video. Her outfit does, but all three together seemed like a stretch. It could be possible that she's trying to send the message that even looking pretty and innocent wearing all white, this is still the hood she comes from. Point taken.

"Yonce": This is the very first time I've ever wanted to hear Beyonce rap longer. She did really well, and her dance against the wall was somewhere between ratchet and cool. Beyonce gave another woman a chance to shine, doing the usual posing, profiling, bending over and pursing her mouth. Should've been less of the first part and more of Beyonce rapping though. While the leaked "Bow Down" single came off obnoxious, "Yonce" was a much better attempt at crossing genres.

"Partition": Beyonce really went there with "He Monica Lewinsky'd all on my blouse." Raunchy lyrics liek this still came off more sexy than tacky from her. Pole dancing and sexy poses come shortly after, and Jay Z made another appearance but only to smoke a cigar and glance at his wife teasing him onstage.

"Jealous": Any woman (or man) who has been in a relationship can probably relate to the insecurities of keeping it in tact. Even the Beyonces of the world ponder on wilding out and reminding people to treat each other the way they want to be treated. Compared to the ones above, this video was the best. She finally stopped staring at the camera and posing. She was actually "in" this video, living in the lyrics, reacting to the moment and helping her audience connect.

"Rocket": This was another predictable set of poses and staring into the camera while she lay in her bed daydreaming about sex. Minus "No Angel," all of the videos above have been just as good as the songs. However, "Rocket" was forgettable while the song is a groovy, spicy mix that can no doubt end up on repeat.

"Mine" feat. Drake: The lyrics about how two people should get married may sound odd coming from the "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" artist but for those singing along, it may put another reminder in the air about couples taking their sweet time sealing the deal. Or, make the two stop making a big deal of it and be happy together as is. Either way, beautiful song. But Drake fans could be a little disappointed at the small amount of time he gets in the video, especially when most of it is him blinking in and out.

"XO": Unlike "No Angel," this video also gave a peek into the other side of Beyonce, having fun, playing arcade games, doing dance steps with a group and riding a roller coaster. Cute video. Song is better.

"Flawless" feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Check out Ed McMahon announcing a young Beyonce in the group Girls Tyme losing against a male group (three to four score). Not only does this make a statement that Beyonce is not new to hip hop but that she's been in the game for a long time. This is basically "Bow Down Bitches" all cleaned up, and Beyonce finally incorporates the girl power lyrics fans are so used to her doing and those who hate her are probably mad she did. Yes, she talks about her career. Yes, she talks about her looks. Yes, she talks about her confidence. But she also demands women talk about how "flawless" they are, too. Chances are high that that "I woke up like this" dance will be in clubs worldwide before 2013 is even over.

"Superpower" feat. Frank Ocean: Yes, Beyonce bares the bottom of her breasts again, similar to her GQ cover. And super producer Pharrell and phenomenal singer Luke are in the video, but fans may be too giddy to pay attention to anything else but the other members of Destiny's Child making an appearance: Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. The theme is green, including highlights in Beyonce's hair and camouflage fight gear. The video has an "us against them" feel and being the incredibly creative producer that Frank Ocean is, the beat is his brand of odd. And fun. And cool. And an incredible song. There is a high chance that listeners will walk around mumbling "Doop doop doop doop doop" repeatedly and involuntarily. You've been warned.

"Heaven": Viewers who have recently had a loss in their family may find this video or song tough to listen to or watch, but the combination is beautiful. In the video, Beyonce mourns the loss of a friend she's seen through a wedding, through matching cross tattoos, through topless running on the beach and through all the other fun friendship moments between two women. But anyone can relate to it. This one might be a bit of a tearjerker both audibly and visually.

"Blue" feat. Blue Ivy: Never mind Beyonce. Fast forward to 4:10 to see the star of the show: Blue Ivy Carter, dancing around in a white dress, laughing, smiling and hugging her mom. Whether you're a mother or someone who doesn't have a maternal instinct in your body, this video is too cute not to grin at. Home videos and kid photos are shown all the time in everyday life so in that sense, the video is nothing new. But Blue Ivy looks like one little bundle of fun, and considering the (reasonable) privacy Jay Z and Beyonce have with showing off their child this video is a welcome surprise. Most of the video shows other people's children and originally may make fans think Blue Ivy will just be in silhouette until she shows up looking dead at the camera. This is an adorable Beyonce tribute to her daughter that is sure to be appreciated when she grows up.

"Grown Woman": No matter what the naysayers have to say about Kelly Rowland's "Dirty Laundry" song, this bonus video is proof of just how deep their friendship goes. They go from children to teenagers to adults dancing around, singing and viewers even get clips of the early Destiny's Child days. Hairstyles change. Bodies mature. But these two sisters-from-other-mothers are exciting to watch grow up. And going back to the '80s baby theme, Beyonce shows how music videos have changed through the years. Anyone who sees that set of three girls in a diagonal line will recognize the upgrades immediately.

Overall: This compilation of music videos plus songs is exciting and fun and worth the surprise release. The beauty of the self-titled "Beyonce" album is songs that may have not been interesting initially sound better because of the videos and vice versa. And some songs and videos just stand on their own. This grown woman did her thing. "Beyonce" is worth the iTunes purchase.

Recommended Reading:

Beyonce's top 10 songs on and off the charts

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.


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