(CNN) — On a single she previewed as part of a Pepsi ad earlier this year, Beyonce sang, “I’m a grown woman / I can do whatever I want.”
The singer proved that on Friday when she released a surprise album with no fanfare.
Fans promptly lost it and the Internet was on the verge of exploding. Even fellow celebs seemed to have been left breathless.
Singer Katy Perry tweeted, “Don’t talk to me today unless it’s about @Beyonce THANX.”
Added actress Abigail Breslin, “The new Beyonce album is so perfect wow.”
The 14-track self-titled album was released exclusively on iTunes at midnight and had to be purchased in its totality. Singles will not be available for purchase until December 20. In addition to the songs, there are also 17 music videos.
Speaking to fans via a video on her official Facebook page, Beyonce called the project a “visual album” and said “I see music.”
“It’s more than just what I hear,” she said. “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.”
Her fifth studio album has been eagerly awaited since the success of “4,” which was released in 2011. Over the past year she has hinted that something new was in the works and previewed singles including “Grown Woman,” “Bow Down/I Been On” and “Standing on the Sun,” which served as the soundtrack for her H&M fashion campaign.
The new album features collaborations with rapper Drake, singers Frank Ocean and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and, of course, her husband, rapper Jay Z. Daughter Blue Ivy also makes a cameo.
The bold and innovative move was hailed by critics and fans. USA Today ‘s Korina Lopez wrote “It’s a fully baked album, no filler remixes and re-released greatest hits. By sidestepping promotional blitz and gimmicks, this album could be her most personal yet.”
According to Gerrick D. Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times, Beyonce, her producers and writers began work on the project last summer while they were all together in the Hamptons. The end result, Kennedy said, “is a striking collection of work that shows her torching the veil of her carefully crafted image.”