Beyonce album smashes iTunes record
- 16 December 2013
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Beyonce's "surprise" fifth album has broken iTunes sales records, with 828,773 copies sold in just three days.
The majority of those sales came in the US, where it has racked up 617,213 sales since its release on Friday.
The tally broke Beyonce's own first-week sales record, set by her second album B'day in 2006, which sold 541,000 copies across a full seven days.
In the UK, the self-titled album cracked the top five in just 48 hours, after shifting 68,000 copies.
Beyonce stealth-released the record exclusively on iTunes last Friday, surprising fans by unveiling 14 new songs and 17 videos without the usual build-up of radio play, marketing and magazine interviews.
Its success has been fuelled by a number of factors: By keeping the project secret, the star avoided leaks; while the inability to purchase individual tracks online meant fans had no choice but to pay for the whole album.
The 31-year-old said the "visual album" was inspired by her memories of watching Michael Jackson's Thriller video premiere in 1983.
"I miss that immersive experience," she said. "Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don't really invest in the whole experience.
"It's all about the single, and the hype. I felt like, I don't want anybody to get the message when my record is coming out.
"I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans."
The album was codenamed "Lily" by staff at her record label, Columbia, to avoid rumours spreading, and even key creative staff were kept in the dark about the release plans.
Video director Ricky Saiz, who shot the clip for a slow, sleazy track called Yonce, told Buzzfeed he had "no idea" of the scale of the project until it was released.
"It was a complete surprise even to the people involved," he said. "To be honest, I was actually in bed when I got an email just kind of saying [the album] was live."
Reviews for the album were largely positive, with Billboard magazine praising the star's "creative audacity".
"Beyonce signifies where the future of R&B is heading," said the magazine, "with less focus on beats and more emphasis on emotive falsetto, stream-of-consciousness ideas and the occasional burst of braggadocio."
In The Telegraph, Neil McCormick wrote: "The album has a focus and intensity unusual in multi-writer ensemble productions, a sense of purposefulness that holds the attention even when the songs sometimes drift off in search of a chorus."
Apple, which runs the iTunes store, said the album had broken its previous first-week sales record, set by Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience when it sold 580,000 in March.
Beyonce also went to number one in 104 countries, it reported.
The company has exclusive access to the album for a short period - thought to be a week. Physical copies of the record are expected in shops before Christmas.