The Los Angeles Times calls it "one of the best-kept secrets in recent music history." TMZ calls it "a HUMONGOUS feat." Overnight, and as a total surprise, Beyonce released her latest album on iTunes. She had been teasing something for the past year—dropping hints and a couple leaks here and there as fans wondered when she might put out her first album since giving birth to Blue Ivy—but she hadn't made any official announcements. She explains: "I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it. I am bored with that. ... 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 album "is called BEYONCÉ, in all caps, because that is presumably how everyone will be tweeting about it," writes Brian Feldman on the Atlantic Wire. Notes Scott Meslow at The Week, "It would surely have been one of the most anticipated albums of the year—if anyone had known it was coming." Each of the 14 tracks on the "visual album" features an accompanying video, and there are three more bonus videos. Guest artists include Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, Drake, and even Blue Ivy herself. A physical CD and DVD will be available before the holidays. (Read more Beyonce stories.)