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December 14, 2013

Beyonce announces, releases new album

NEW YORK (AP) Beyonce has released her new album in an unconventional way: She announced and dropped it on the same day.

The singer released "Beyonce" exclusively on iTunes early Friday. She mirrors how Jay Z released "Magna Carta Holy Grail" earlier this year through a deal with Samsung where he gave the album to 1 million users of Galaxy mobile phones days before its official release.

Beyonce's fifth effort features 14 songs and 17 videos. Jay Z, Drake and Frank Ocean make guest appearances on the album, while the closing track, "Blue," features her daughter Blue Ivy. Justin Timberlake co-wrote the songs "Rocket" and "Partition," and Pharrell, Timbaland, Ryan Tedder, Miguel and Sia also co-wrote tracks.

The album caused a stir on social media websites, with fans posting about the release early Friday morning. Twitter said Beyonce's album release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours, with a tweets-per-minute spike of 5,300. The tweets-per-minute count around the album surpassed the record set when the Syfy TV movie "Sharknado" aired in July, Twitter added.

Billboard said Friday that "Beyonce" will likely debut on top of its charts next week.

"Our early numbers are showing that this is likely heading toward a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart with only three days of the tracking week," said Bill Werde, the editor of Billboard. Billboard closes the tracking week on Sundays, and typical albums are released on Monday or Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, the explicit and clean versions of "Beyonce" ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the iTunes albums chart.

Along with Beyonce and Jay Z, other leaders in pop music have released albums in new ways recently: For her "Red" album last year, Taylor Swift had partnerships with Target, Walgreens and Papa John's; and Lady Gaga sold 440,000 copies of her "Born This Way" album on Amazon for just 99 cents when it was on sale for two days in 2011, helping the album sell 1.1 million in its debut week.

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