On Monday (Nov. 3), a pre-order link to a four-disc Beyonce package appeared on Amazon U.K., further stoking speculation. And Tuesday morning finally brought an official press release: yes, there IS new Beyonce music coming! Ring the alarm! I been through this too long!
Look, a ‘Platinum Edition Box Set,’ complete with a live performance DVD and a ‘More’ audio CD with six new tracks in total, is exciting. That electric “Flawless Remix” with Nicki Minaj has a home! The “Drunk In Love” remix with Kanye West is a must-hear! What will a song titled “Ring Off,” from the “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” artist who has surfed (surft?) through months of divorce rumors, focus on? We have to know, and we will soon!
It’s also okay to let yourself feel a twinge of disappointment, though — especially since, in terms of a music release, the Platinum Edition of Beyonce is basically the polar opposite of Beyonce. While that sneak-attack release was daring and perfectly executed, the Platinum Edition was officially announced and clumsily revealed. While Beyonce was a complete statement heralding a bold new sound, this is an addendum to that declaration, with more re-workings of existing tracks than new songs. After last December’s album release and everything that has trickled out of that moment since — the best reviews of her career, one of her biggest hits to date with “Drunk In Love,” the stadium tour with Jay Z, the show-stopping awards show performance, the ferocious “Flawless” remix, just to name a few — Beyonce set the bar extremely high. Almost too high — after all, fans are now expressing ever-so-slight dismay that new, unexpected music is just a few weeks away.
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In a vacuum, the Platinum Edition release makes total sense for Beyonce. She has a DVD of her Mrs. Carter Show world tour in the bag; the “Flawless” remix and a few others from her last album; and two unreleased songs that didn’t make the cut for Beyonce (or weren’t recorded until after its release), but shouldn’t be the basis for her next album. That’s a nice little pile of bonus material that can easily be fastened into a fancy bundle and morphed into a stocking stuffer for Christmas 2014.
Major artists perform this art of repackaging all the time, most notoriously around Christmastime. Two years ago, Beyonce’s “Flawless Remix” partner Nicki Minaj spun a deluxe edition out of her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded; titled The Re-Up, the reissue offered seven new songs and was released just in time for Black Friday. On Nov. 24 — the same day that Beyonce drops the Platinum Edition — Iggy Azalea will update her debut album, The New Classic, with a deluxe edition dubbed The New Classic: Reclassified that will feature six additional tracks. These special editions target casual consumers who hadn’t picked up the album when it was originally released, as well as obsessives who need to own every song in an artist’s catalog. Beyonce, of course, has a whole lot of both types of fans.
Of course, one huge difference between Beyonce and the forthcoming box set is its availability at physical retail locations. Unlike the full-length album, which was exclusive to iTunes upon its initial release last year, the Platinum Edition will be available on physical and digital formats on Nov. 24, Columbia has confirmed to Billboard. Perhaps this is Beyonce’s way of making amends with big box retailers after the launch of Beyonce ruffled some feathers. Maybe Queen Bey will even do Spotify a solid and place her full album and the bonus material on the streaming giant, at long last!
Could these four remixes and two new songs be deemed essential? Absolutely; the “Flawless Remix” is arguably an indispensable piece of Beyonce’s discography already. Other artists release deluxe editions of their albums all the time, often timed to the holidays, and it's nice to have Beyonce become part of another Q4. On the other hand, Beyonce isn't supposed to be like other artists, not after the year she's had. Beyonce has entered a special phase in her career in which pop fans can reasonably (and unfairly) expect jaw-dropping, high-quality surprises around every corner, so when rumors bubbled up that a new album was coming in two weeks, there was no cause to dismiss it. After the initial rush of “new Beyonce album is imminent” fervor, this deluxe repackaging — and the way it’s being released — has to be seen as something of a letdown. With all its multimedia goodies, the Platinum Edition looks pretty, but sometimes, pretty... well, you know...