If there's one person that screams "love yourself," it's Beyoncé. She's constantly not only defining the standards, but breaking them and doing the unexpected. Beyoncé defied the standard in Beyoncé, her eponymous 2013 record that shook the world of pop forever.
Beyoncé was an iconic album any way you look at it. Not only was it dropped without warning, but it was daring enough to go outside of the box and create sounds not necessarily suited for the radio. There's a lot of experimental things going on throughout the record, like the six minute slow-burner 'Haunted.' It's ghastly vibe is encapsulating, trapping you and really coming at you in an unexpected way. The build is awesome, and so is the vibe as the song changes in just the right ways as it progresses. Beyoncé experiments with some old-school textures and a cappella in 'Superpower' with Frank Ocean, while being tastefully risqué in 'Partition' (though the same can't be said for the most more promiscuous 'Blow').
While Beyoncé is definitely noteworthy for its willingness to stray from the path, the pop anthems it delivers truly hit things out of the park. 'Drunk In Love' is as iconic as it gets, bringing together both the experimental side of the album and a modern pop sound. The Indian melodies from the intro bring the song to a mysterious start, the song becoming more crystalline and free as it goes, Beyoncé's vocals becoming huge and Jay-Z adding a nice loving element to the track. Bey's vocals shine in 'No Angel,' as well. Love is a big theme of the album, Beyoncé singing of instinctual intimacy in 'Mine' featuring Drake and of more passionate, anthemic love in 'XO.' A central theme of being empowered sandwiches the album, from the cinematic, empowering introduction 'Pretty Hurts' to the sweet, loving and warm closing 'Blue' featuring her daughter, Blue Ivy. No album is complete without a little emotion, either, which is the center of the powerful 'Heaven,' where Beyoncé angelically cries out: "heaven couldn't wait for you."
Beyoncé defied the standard in Beyoncé, sending ripples throughout the genre and showing that not only could she smash all expectations, but that those expectations could be conquered in the first place. There are so many risks taken in this album, and each of them pays off with flying colors.
Favorite Tracks: Drunk In Love, Heaven, XO, Haunted
Least Favorite Track: Blow
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy Beyoncé on Apple Music, and follow our Throwback Playlist on Spotify: