Queen Bey stays classy
Queen Bey has quietly shown everyone in pop how to do things by releasing her new self-titled visual album on the sly without any fanfare onto iTunes last Friday morning.
That no-one was really aware there was an album was testament to the team around her.
Lots of code names were employed in the production of not just the 14 songs on the album but the 17 ambitious music videos made for the release.
When Miley Cyrus stuck out her tongue and ass at a desperately high rate earlier this year, it was in order to promote her Bangerz album.
Gaga spent months building fan expectation of ArtPop as a multimedia experience only to reduce the delivery to a standard album and app. Daft Punk's marketing campaign around Random Access Memories was one of the most exciting things to happen in music, but was let down by the actual music.
By contrast, both Jay Z and Kanye West employed short lead-in times, a matter of weeks, to their respective album releases. Kanye was still working on Yeezus in the final hours before it hit iTunes. Beyoncé too, had a very close deadline with the album still being worked on the week of Thanksgiving and only a week before, iTunes senior management were notified of plans to release.
The result is a genuinely exciting event. By releasing the album all at once without any marketing spin, radio didn't know what song was the first single. They actually had to listen to it in full like everybody else.
That lack of marketing spin works its way into Beyoncé's visual album.
I experienced it for the first time by watching it in full as a collection of visual songs.
It was a fascinating way to get to know the tunes, many of which are bolder and more musically cutting-edge -- drawing from the underground -- than anything she's done before.
The videos are equally bold and sumptuously made with beautiful imagery and cinematography. It's an art-led project, not a marketing-lead one.
To quote a fictional TV anchorman currently (overdoing) doing the marketing merry-go-round: "You stay classy, Beyoncé."