Celebrating the B’Day Anthology, Beyoncé’s FIRST visual album, at 10

B'Day anthology

April 3, 2007.

Beyoncé released her sophomore album, B’Day, on her birthday in 2006 (if you don’t know it, then log-out). However, that was hardly the last hurrah for the album. Seven months later, on April 3, 2007, Beyoncé unleashed the B’Day Anthology visual album. The DVD featured a music video for 10 of the 11 songs from the original release of B’Day. In addition, of the newly added Deluxe version tracks also received music videos.

The B’Day Anthology doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves. When Beyoncé dropped her self-titled visual album in December of 2013, you would think it was the first time she made a video for every song on an album. Everyone seemingly forgot about B’Day. Sure, in hindsight, the B’Day videos pale in comparison to that of Self-Titled or LEMONADE, but they still slay in their own way. Obviously, B’Day‘s case was a bit different in that the videos came months after the album. However the method of releasing an album in the manner of Self-Titled was more or less unheard of at the time. B’Day deserves its due credit. It was Beyoncé’s trial run for a format she would come to perfect six years later.

B’Day Anthology, the Context

The B’Day videos do not have a story-line woven throughout. Nor do they have much of a unifying theme (except for perhaps female empowerment), or visual similarities. All 13 of the videos on the B’Day Anthology are uniquely different (intentionally) from the rest and for that, should be celebrated. I remember being so impressed that Beyoncé pulled off such a feat.

At the time, the way we consumed music videos was so drastically different from now. There was no VEVO, and posting music videos on YouTube was still a relatively new idea. The iPhone had not been released yet (it would come later in 2007), but people did watch music videos on their iPod Videos, purchased from iTunes. I remember ripping the B’Day Anthology from the DVD to put onto my iPod. I watched the videos incessantly. Indeed, what she accomplished was unheard of, yet it did not receive the fanfare it truly deserved.

Naturally, the set featured previously released videos for singles “Déjà Vu,” “Ring the Alarm,” “Irreplaceable,” “Listen,” and Deluxe Edition lead single, “Beautiful Liar” with Shakira. Aside from those five, Beyoncé filmed eight more videos.

B’Day Anthology, the Videos

My personal favorite from the set is “Get Me Bodied.” Part of this is because of the guest appearances from Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Solange Knowles. Beyond that, it was simply well-done and an all-around fun video. However, all of the videos have notable moments. “Kitty Kat” features an enlarged cat crawling with Beyoncé, who dons a leopard print leotard. “Green Light,” meanwhile, is a simple yet fierce video showcasing Beyoncé’s all-female band and some intense fashion stylings.

On “Upgrade U,” Beyoncé tries her hand at impersonating her then-secret-fiancé Jay-Z, who features on the track, which makes for a hilarious moment. Continuing the comedy is “Flaws & All,” an old school looking video that features Beyoncé playing around, making silly faces in front of the camera. It is a charming, smile-inducing video for an equally heart-warming song. The hilarity reaches its peak, though, on “Suga Mama.” What is otherwise a rather sexy video – with Beyoncé slaying a stripper pole – turns hilarious at the very end. Beyoncé rides a mechanical bull and gets thrown off, tumbling to the floor.

“Freakum Dress” is essentially a Miss Tina Knowles fashion show. In the video Beyoncé and her dancers model a slew of dressed sewn by her fashion-designer mother. It becomes a little mind-blowing as Beyoncé and crew’s dresses keep switching from one style to the next. I can’t think of a better video for the song, all things considering. I sure feel for the editor, and director Melina, though; it must’ve been quite the task getting all of those shots to line up properly.

B’Day Anthology, the Effect

In short, the B’Day Anthology was ultimately a stepping stone or Beyoncé. It was a creative experiment that wet her feet for an art form she would later perfect and shake up the music industry in the process. The set deserves respect and acclaim, not because any one of the videos were particularly groundbreaking, but because of the effort Beyoncé put into it. She dared to challenge herself and make a visual album. Had she not done so in 2007, who’s to say that she would have done so in 2013 (and so masterfully)? It takes time to perfect greatness. Beyoncé went on to make plenty more videos between 2007 and 2013, but the B’Day Anthology laid the groundwork for Beyoncé to become the pioneering visual artist she is revered as today.

Listen to Beyoncé’s B’Day Anthology:

 

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