NEW YORK – Beyoncé cemented her status as the queen of surprise releases on Saturday, releasing a new album called Lemonade and correspoding videos 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 programme and its content, Beyoncé appeared to address long-standing rumours of trouble in her marriage with rapper Jay Z.
A big leap up from her last offering, Formation, Beyonce's new visual album features an array of familiar faces.
Some of the stars featured include Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, Chloe and Halle, Quvenzhané Wallis, and the gorgeous Serena Williams who sexily prowls around Queen B's video in a seductive black outfit.
Somebody call Jay Z and make sure he still has a pulse. #LEMONADE— Sheneka Adams (@iamShenekaAdams) April 24, 2016
Beyonce gave you rock, country, trap music, piano ballad...and it didn't sound one ounce out of place or character in her voice.— Patti LaHelle (@_maleficentt) April 24, 2016
After levelling accusations in her song lyrics about being cheated on, Beyoncé made clear in the last tracks of the new album that she has decided to reconcile with Jay Z.
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 programme, which featured a compilation of music videos, vignettes, vintage home-movie style footage and poetry, Beyoncé, 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 cast a spotlight on US racial tensions.
Fans posting on social media platforms such as Twitter were especially engaged with speculation about the content of the show and songs as they related to Beyoncé 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.
Beyoncé previewed work from the new album just before her Super Bowl appearance this year when she debuted her single, Formation.
Beyoncé's previous album, in 2013, was also marked by a surprise release.
She kicks off her new tour this week in Miami.