This story first appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
When producer Diplo revealed July 12 that two songs he hoped would make it onto the next Beyonce album ended up on the cutting-room floor, it stoked chatter that the project is running months behind schedule.
Like a record scratching to a halt, Beyonce, 31, is believed to have auditioned more than 50 songs for her much-anticipated fifth studio album but has decided to scrap them all and start over, a source tells THR. Among the writers potentially affected are Ryan Tedder, The-Dream, Sia, Diane Warren and Ne-Yo, who said in June that Beyonce was “still trying to figure out” a direction for the album.
The singer’s label, Sony-owned Columbia, had hoped to have new Beyonce music out by spring, which turned out to be a pipe dream. Now, it looks like a fall release may not be feasible. Columbia had its sights set on a big fourth-quarter bow by Beyonce, both to compete with high-profile releases by Universal Music’s Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and to capitalize on her massive Mrs. Carter tour. “Beyonce has had some of the biggest hits of our format, and we’re ready for the next,” says Tom Poleman, president of national programming platforms at Clear Channel.
But while the stage show goes on without new material — save for a snippet of “Grown Woman,” the song most commonly heard as the soundtrack to a Pepsi commercial — it wasn’t initially the plan to take a singer around the world for an ambitious eight-month trek (so far, 36 shows have grossed $55.6 million) while trying to juggle time in the studio.
In turn, the label is getting increasingly more anxious as it looks back to the costly 2011 album, 4. Recorded around the globe as she accompanied her husband, Jay Z, and his rap partner Kanye West for their own Watch the Throne sessions, Beyonce was given nearly complete autonomy over the finished product, which also was her first release since excising her father, Mathew Knowles, from her business dealings (she is now self-managed).
4 was her lowest seller at 1.4 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and it failed to produce a buzzy pop hit, despite decent positioning on the R&B charts. Poleman says he hopes for “another ‘Single Ladies,’ ” which spent four weeks at No. 1: “Anticipation is high and expectations are, too,” he says.
A rep for the singer tells THR that “there was never an album release date” slated for Beyonce but that she is currently working on new music while multitasking her many business endeavors.
Columbia Records would not comment.