T Grant/Splash News
Let's all take a moment to bow down to Queen Bey.
In typical Beyoncé fashion, the pop icon opted to drop her fifth studio album in an unprecedented manner, skipping out on the months of promotion in which many artists often participate, and simply released her record exclusively on iTunes without dropping any hints of her album's stealth debut.
And it worked.
According to Billboard, which cites "industry sources," Beyoncé reportedly sold over 80,000 copies in just three hours after the closing sales window ended Friday at midnight PT.
While it's still too early to judge how the entire album—which includes a whopping 31 tracks, 14 of which are new songs—will perform over the full three days left in the sales tracking week, Bey is well on her way to approaching the prior projected leader Garth Brooks, who's ninth studio album hit No. 1 and sold 146,000 copies in its first week.
So how did Beyoncé manage to keep her album release a secret at a time when countless artists are struggling to save their records from leaking early online?
Billboard reports that only a handful of members from Bey's Sony Records family were aware of the unexpected iTunes set, which also features an impressive 17 videos.
And we can only imagine the lengths that Camp B went to in order to keep the media completely clueless, as the album features collaborations with big name artists such as hubby Jay Z, gal-pals Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, Drake, Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake and her baby girl Blue Ivy, to name a few.
The surprise release is described as an "unguarded artistic statement," and labeled as "a visual album" that is "exclusively available on iTunes...The complementary videos unfold amid an international backdrop of New York, Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro."
"I see music as more than just what I hear," Bey said in a Facebook video, uploaded after the album dropped. "When I'm connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies and they're all connected to the music. And I think that's one of the reasons why I wanted to do a visual album."
According to the latest Twitter stats, Bey's album release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours, with a tweets per minute spike of 5,300 (that's more than tweets than Syfy's record-setting Sharknado airing generated).
But we think Queen B's sister Solange sums it up best:
"So my sister is a f--king G," she posted last night. "Beyoncé , the visual album out now."
Bow down, indeed.