Beyonce cemented her status as the queen of surprise releases on Saturday, releasing a completely new album and videos called "Lemonade" via a widely anticipated one-hour special on cable network HBO.
During the show, which ignited social media as fans breathlessly enthused about, and debated, the program and its content, Beyonce appeared to address long-standing rumours of trouble in her marriage with rapper Jay Z.
After levelling accusations in her song lyrics about being cheated on, Beyonce made clear in the last tracks of the new album that she has decided to reconcile with him and continue in the marriage.
In a preview earlier this week, the singer teased fans with a snippet promoting the show, mysteriously intoning “The past and the present merge to meet us here. What are you hiding? Why can’t you see me? You’re the love of my life.”
Fans, who wondered if Saturday’s show was to be a concept video with new music from the R&B star, found out on Saturday that was pretty much the case, with chapters carrying titles that riffed on the grieving process stages such as anger, denial and forgiveness.
Before the end of the program, which featured a compilation of music videos, vignettes, vintage, home-movie style footage and poetry, Beyonce (34) had dropped “Lemonade” onto the Tidal streaming service. The film was also available via Tidal.
Videos also featured appearances by the mothers of two black men, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, whose shooting deaths, in Brown's case by a Missouri police officer, have trained a spotlight on US racial tensions.
Fans posting on social media such as Twitter were especially engaged with speculation about the content of the show and songs as they related to Beyonce and Jay Z, making references in postings about “women scorned” and the singer “dropping” both an album and a divorce, seemingly at the same time.
Beyonce previewed work from the new album just before his Super Bowl appearance this year when she debuted her single, “Formation”.
Beyonce's last album, in 2013, was also marked by a surprise release. She kicks off her new tour this week in Miami.