Beyoncé has released her highly anticipated fifth album exclusively on iTunes without any warning or promotion, shocking her fans around the world.
The self-titled album is an early holiday surprise for fans who have been wondering when the 32-year-old singer would put out new music. The album features 14 songs and 17 videos.
The release is Beyoncé's first visual album, which includes tracks from her husband Jay Z, R&B singer Frank Ocean and rapper Drake.
The singer began recording the album in the summer of 2012 and includes production and songwriting from Justin Timberlake, Drake, Ryan Tedder, The Dream and many others.
The closing track, "Blue," features her daughter Blue Ivy in the video.
"I see music," Beyoncé said in the press release, referring to her decision about creating a visual album. "It's more than just what I hear. When I'm connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they're all connected to the music."
The Grammy winning singer, who is currently on her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, has chosen a very different path with the release of this album. The singer shot most of the music videos during the tour in her hometown of Houston, New York City, and Paris. Most music artists release their album physically in stores and online simultaneously.
"I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it," Beyoncé said. "I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn't want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans."
A double disc CD/DVD will be available at retail stores in time for the holidays, her record label said.
The exclusive digital release at midnight is a "preventive plan" against piracy because Beyoncé has been the target of leaks, her record label Columbia said.
1. Pretty Hurts 2. Haunted 3. Drunk in Love (Featuring Jay Z) 4. Blow/Cherry 5. Angel 6. Yoncé/Partition 7. Jealous 8. Rocket 9. Mine (Featuring Drake) 10. XO 11. Flawless (Featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) 12. Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean) 13. Heaven 14. Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy)
The singer posted a video on her Instagram page about the release, simply with the caption "Surprise!"