Last week, Beyonce released yet another video from her most recent album, “Party.” This soulful soiree anthem is the sixth video B’s released from 4 and the third in a rapid-fire line-up of vids released this October, right after Beyonce announced her pregnancy on national TV with a wink and a bump at this summer’s VMAs.
This October’s flurry of music videos is definitely something new for B. As a fellow emcBlue writer pointed out earlier this year, Beyonce tends to release an album, then live off of it for three years or more, dropping videos and releasing singles over a long period of time, reaping the benefits for even longer. But not this time.
Beyonce’s promotion of 4 began in her traditional way, with the video for the first single, “Run the World (Girls),” hitting the ‘tube in mid-May in anticipation of the upcoming album. “Best Thing I Never Had” followed in July, not long after the album’s June 24th release date. “1+1” hit the web in late August, days before the VMAs aired, and we all learned B’s secret. But this sudden wave of videos in October stands out. Three hit us last month, and apparently another is on the way before the end of November, as Pitchfork notes, making seven in total.
Beyonce’s last album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, produced eight music videos in total, though not all of them were hit singles. She released “If I Were a Boy” and the now infamous “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” in October 2008, a month before Sasha Fierce dropped. “Diva” and “Halo“ followed in December. B waited a long time before releasing her next round of videos from Sasha Fierce, “Ego” (May 2009), “Broken-Hearted Girl” (released only on DVD in June 2009), and “Sweet Dreams” (July 2009), finally releasing the “Video Phone” remix a full year after her album’s original release date in November 2009. Now, Beyonce’s already almost at eight videos, a mere four months after her new album dropped.
There are, of course, logical reasons for B to bombard us with videos. The first is the easiest to see: Beyonce decided to shoot her videos all at once when she first found out she was pregnant. Now, she wants to release her videos while she’s still in the early stages of her pregnancy, so we don’t do a huh-what double-take later on when she’s looking svelte and sexy in the videos but round as a watermelon in real life. I’m sure there are some people out there that would love to see a pregnant Beyonce bopping around, but with the rigorous dance moves B’s built us up to expect in most of her music videos, it’s plain to see why Beyonce might shy away from making movies later on.
Beyond that, releasing the videos now feeds into her pregnancy hype and keeps her on our minds — good timing for B, who might want to escape from the public eye as her pregnancy progresses and her urge to binge-eat ice cream grows. Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, have always been particularly private, even while releasing song after song after song about their love affair, so it won’t surprise me if we suddenly stop seeing B out and about in a few months’ time.
But something’s got me thinking that this tidal wave of music videos has less to do with B and Jay’s good news than it might at first appear to, especially in light of her previous video strategy.
4 has been doing pretty poorly when it comes to the charts. The album itself debuted at the top, but the singles have been troubled — there’s yet to be a clear album-defining single, and there’s definitely nothing on 4 that’s reached the level of B’s iconic “Single Ladies.” Earlier this year, we reported that Beyonce’s second single, “Best Thing I Never Had,” did so badly that Columbia Records wanted to push her back into the studio to rework 4.
But instead of logging more studio time, it seems that Beyonce took to heart what works for her: music videos. Everybody loves a good Beyonce music video, and her videos have continuously helped to launch her songs with her signature dance moves and kickin’ body. As her album threatened to flop, it seems likely that Beyonce decided to start churning out the videos, and I doubt anyone’s really complaining.
But did Beyonce worry too much about topping “Single Ladies” and flooding the market with her singles to promote 4 that she lost her true standout track in this pile of videos? Looking at what we’ve been given so far, I’m afraid she might have. “Countdown,” to me, could have been B’s true hit single on 4. All of her other releases have pretty much flopped, and certainly none seem to have been able to stick like that song. But now it seems destined to be buried under boring songs like “Party,” despite its fantastic video.Tags: "4", baby bump, Beyonce, countdown, flop, Jay-Z, music videos, party, Pregnancy, pregnant, Single Ladies, video strategy