Beyoncé didn’t invent the surprise album drop for the digital age, but she certainly perfected it. The 2007 release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows got the ball rolling; Kanye and Jay-Z proved the concept was flexible; and the kept-secret-until-the-final moment release of last year’s eponymous album/video project, Beyoncé, from Houston’s favorite daughter demonstrated that if a world-class talent manages to keep the lid on one of her finest albums until the very moment it’s ready to go, it can reverberate throughout the music industry.
The following year has been marked by other artists trying variations on the Beyoncé approach: In March, Skrillex released a new album one track at a time via a smartphone app. Thom Yorke returned to the well—and teamed with music industry bêtes noires Bittorrent—in September with his Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. U2 pulled off the most arrogant feat in a career marked by egotism by placing their new album in everyone with an Apple ID’s iTunes library without their permission. And now—if an alleged leaked screenshot is to be believed—Beyoncé herself is readying a surprise release, albeit without the tight-lipped secrecy that surrounded last December’s.
As Vulture reports, the image that leaked suggests that a volume 2 to Beyoncé may be on the way:
A photograph circulated yesterday of what looks like the “release confirmation” of another super-secret Beyoncé album drop, Beyoncé Volume 2, an addendum to the eponymous fifth album that broke everyone’s brains last December. Of course, the big question is “Is this real?” Without any comment from Beyoncé’s camp, all we can do is speculate: Did some hapless intern Snapchat this to a friend and tell them “OMG Don’t share pls!”? Are heads rolling over at Bey’s entertainment company, Parkwood Entertainment, as we speak? Or is this actually just a ploy to fuel more of a buildup than another surprise album drop because Beyoncé is like, “Nah, that was so last year”?!
The image in question certainly looks legit, though seeing as how it’s basically just a screenshot of a Word doc, it’s not that hard to fake something like that. Vulture points out that the alleged release date of “Monday, November 25th” is actually a Tuesday, which suggests that, if this is legit, not only is Team Bey fallible in terms of keeping its secrets under wraps, but they’re also prone to the occasional typo. If it’s a fake, meanwhile, it’s a convincing one: Beyoncé actually did register a song called “DONK,” which she allegedly recorded with Nikki Minaj for the new album, with ASCAP in October.
But perhaps the most compelling evidence for this being legit is that the reported new album is exciting for Beyoncé fans, but not, like, earth-shattering. It’d be possible, but perhaps implausible, to believe that Beyoncé made an entire full-blown new album in less than a year and also kept that under wraps for most of the time it took to work on it. But the idea that, a month before Christmas, she’ll put out a psuedo-sequel that features 8 or 9 new songs and a remix or two (Billboard speculates that “Cherry,” with Rihanna, might be a remix of last year’s “Blow”) seems well within the realm of possibility. The suggestion that this is also all built around selling DVDs of the music video, the world tour, and the On The Run special with Jay-Z seems to buoy the “this is about selling Beyoncé stuff in time for Christmas” idea.
In other words, the only reason this should raise any flags about its authenticity is that Beyoncé’s team did such a great job keeping the last surprise release a secret until the moment it was ready. But this has been a year in which keeping things private has been a bit tougher than in the past, so the idea of more information from Team Beyoncé getting out there doesn’t seem impossible. In any case, we’ll find out—and hopefully our Christmas parties will include dancing to Beyoncé and Nikki Minaj doing “DONK” after all.
(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)