Beyoncé (often stylized in all caps) is the eponymous fifth solo studio album by American singer Beyoncé. The record was released on December 13, 2013, by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. Developed as a "visual album", its songs are accompanied by non-linear short films that illustrate the musical concepts conceived during production. Its dark, intimate subject material includes feminist themes of sex, monogamous love, and relationship issues, inspired by Beyoncé's desire to assert her full creative freedom.
The album's initial recording began in New York City, where Beyoncé invited producers and songwriters to live with her for a month. During extensive touring the following year, the album changed as she conceived of creating a visual accompaniment to its songs and resumed recording sessions with electronic producer and rock musician Boots. Their collaboration led to more sonically experimental material, which combined contemporary R&B with electronic and soul music. Throughout this period, the album's songs and videos were composed in strict secrecy as Beyoncé devised an unexpected release.
Beyoncé was released digitally on the iTunes Store without prior announcement or promotion, and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, earning Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number-one album on the chart. The album sold over 617,000 copies in the United States and 828,773 copies worldwide in its first three days of sales, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store up to that point. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Beyoncé was globally the tenth-best-selling album of 2013. The album was reissued in November 2014 as part of a platinum edition, along with an extended play of new songs, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Part of the album was promoted on The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour during the 2014 legs.
Beyoncé received universal acclaim from critics upon release who praised its production, exploration of sexuality, vocal performance, as well as the album's surprise release strategy which was subsequently replicated by many artists. Beyoncé is generally considered one of the greatest and most influential albums of the 21st century, and was ranked 81st in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.