Beyoncé's Secret Album: Clues It Was in the Works

12/14/2013 at 08:00 AM EST

Beyoncé's Secret Album: Clues It Was in the Works
Beyoncé
KVS/Gaz Shirley/Pacific Coast News
A lot of people were caught off-guard when Beyoncé dropped her secret "visual album" – and 17 new videos – on Friday, but the singer had given plenty of hints about what was in the works.

From photos on her Instagram account, to Tweets (that were quickly deleted) by her collaborators, there were signs that sneaky Queen Bey was working on something big.

Check out these signs you might have missed ...

The anticipation began in January, when Beyoncé told GQ that she had already recorded about 50 songs for the follow-up to her 2011 album 4 and was working with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Timbaland and The-Dream.



Then in March, she released "Bow Down/I Been On," followed by "Grown Woman," which was featured in her Pepsi commercial.

Ne-Yo added fuel to the fire when he admitted in June that he was "putting stuff together for Beyoncé's album."

Beyoncé's Secret Album: Clues It Was in the Works| Beyonce Knowles, Blue Ivy Carter

Beyoncé rides the Cyclone – one of many clues

James Devaney / WireImage



As PEOPLE reported in August, Beyonce filmed a music video at New York's Coney Island. Nobody knew it at the time, but the scenes were for her "Xo" video.



The 32-year-old, who was in the middle of her Mrs. Carter Show world tour, also began dropping visual hints on her Instagram account and Tumblr throughout the summer.



On Sept. 18, she shared a shot of kids playing on the beach that ended up in her "Blue" video (which also features her daughter Blue Ivy, 23 months). ).



The following month, Aussie singer/songwriter Sia (who wrote Rihanna's "Diamonds") told a fan on Twitter, who'd suggested that the Hunger Games song "Elastic Heart" would have been a great single for Beyoncé, that she'd given Bey her "other best song." Clearly she revealed too much, because the Tweet was deleted.

A couple of weeks later, on Oct. 16, Bey posted an adorable shot holding Blue Ivy that was taken during the "Blue" shoot.



With just weeks to go before her new album came out, the singer was spotted leaving an L.A. studio on Nov. 12 wearing a Louis Vuitton ski mask and eye makeup that resembles her look in the new "Superpower" video.



And on Dec. 9 – four days before her secret album came out – Rob Stringer, the chairman of Beyoncé's record label, Columbia, stated the obvious when he told Hits Daily Double, "At some point, Beyoncé will put a record out, and when she does, it will be monumental."

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