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Why Beyoncé Didn't Tell Anyone About Her New Album

Beyonce performs on stage in London on June 1, 2013
Beyonce performs on stage in London on June 1, 2013Photograph by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci

Music fans don’t need to be goaded into buying a Beyoncé album. They don’t need months of lyric videos, a Saturday Night Live hosting gig, or tantalizing live performances to excite them. They only need one sentence of marketing: “Guess what, Beyoncé has a new album!”

So that’s just what Beyoncé did. The pop star released her self-titled fifth solo album via iTunes on Friday with no warning. Observant fans knew something was up—news about music video shoots had occasionally cropped up on celebrity gossip websites—but they didn’t know what she was working on or when it would come out. And certainly no one expected 14 finished tracks and 17 music videos to go along with them.