QUEEN BEY: Beyoncé performing in Texas earlier this month prior to the sudden release of her self-titled, fifth album 'BEYONCE'  Photo (c) Robin Harper

QUEEN BEY: Beyoncé performing in Texas earlier this month prior to the sudden release of her self-titled, fifth album ‘BEYONCE’    Photo (c) Robin Harper

R&B superstar Beyoncé has surprised fans this week by releasing her self-titled, fifth studio album BEYONCE without any prior promotion.

The ‘Crazy In Love’ singer launched the digital-only album on iTunes at midnight on December 13, astounding fans and music journalists across the world in what Apple described as an “unprecedented strategic move”.

The album features 14 songs and 17 accompanying videos, including the videos for ‘Grown Woman’ – which soundtracked Pepsi’s worldwide promotional campaign earlier this year – and ‘Blue’, which showcases the relationship between daughter Blue Ivy Carter and a maternal Beyoncé.

In a press release, B said that the ‘visual album’ is “…more than just what I hear.”

She continued: “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.”

Unlike her previous records BEYONCE  is choc-full of collaborations, bringing an eclectic mix of gritty R&B and slow rhythms. Husband Jay-Z features alongside his wife on ‘Drunk In Love’, whilst rapper of the moment Drake stars on ‘Mine’. OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder – who previously worked with Beyoncé on her top single ‘Halo’ – is another named collaborator on the album, this time writing and producing the track ‘XO’.

Speaking on an Australian radio show earlier this year, Tedder said: “Personally the song we did I like more than ‘Halo’.

“I think it’s a bigger, better song.”

DIGITAL-ONLY: The artwork for Beyoncé's new album, which is only available on iTunes.

DIGITAL-ONLY: The artwork for Beyoncé’s new album, which is only available on iTunes

The release of this album could be seen as ideal finale to 2013 for Queen Bey, after an incredible year in which she launched her HBO documentary Life Is But A Dream; out-earned husband Jay-Z with her sellout arena tour, The Mrs. Carter Show; and was named as one of Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.

If 2013 shows anything in Beyoncé’s world, it shows that she isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?