In spite of popular superstitious folklore, Friday the 13th has proven to be a lucky one for Beyonce fans. Queen B released her self-titled album, Beyonce, to iTunes at midnight, with no prior warning, no hype and no pre-promotion.
The only announcement came from Beyonce's Facebook and Instagram accounts.
"Surprise!" the star wrote in her social media posts, adding she had become "bored" with the traditional way music is released.
"I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans," Beyonce said, noting the manufactured process that albums typically go through. She said she felt this release was a more personal and intimate way to share her music with fans.
"There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans," she said. "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."
The "visual" album has a coinciding music video for all 14 tracks and three additional music videos for people who download the whole album. CNN reports Beyonce was inspired by the late Michael Jackson and the all-consuming experience his "Thriller" video premiere generated.
"I miss that immersive experience," she said. "Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don't really invest in the whole experience."
The album seems to embrace Beyonce's desire to share herself with her fans in a personal way, featuring duets with some the closest people to the songstress: her family. A song entitled "Blue" features her 23-month-old daughter, Blue Ivy, and "Drunk in Love" features her husband, Jay Z. Other featured artists on the album include Drake, Frank Ocean and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
The album was embraced by critics and fans alike.
"It's quite raw," said BBC Radio host Gemma Cairney of Beyonce's fifth studio album. "I quite like the DIY sense of it all."
This raw, Beyonce-uncut theme continues from the release approach, to the sound, all the way down to the music videos, she added.
"It feels like some [of the videos] are home videos," Cairney said. "She's on holiday, she's singing about her husband, being drunk in love."
Korina Lopez of USA Today also heaped praise on the album.
"It's a fully baked album, no filler remixes and re-released greatest hits," she wrote."By sidestepping promotional blitz and gimmicks, this album could be her most personal yet."
Cairney said Beyonce's surprise release is setting a new trend that may alter the music industry and the way in which music is produced.
"It's important to stay ahead of the game, always. If you are in the music industry, it's changing all the time, so it's important to communicate [with fans] in this way." Cairney told Radio 4's Today Program.
Peter Robinson, editor of the music website Popjustice, told BBC that Beyonce's stardom is what will make this release a success, noting that smaller up and coming bands will still need to go the traditional route of hyping their albums before the release. Still, he says, thanks to Beyonce's example, in the near future "it will be quite normal for artists to release albums as soon as they're finished."