Lemonade by Beyoncé
There’s a first time for everything. Yes, here at #6 is Beyoncé. If you’re questioning why, then that must be because you haven’t listened to Lemonade yet. This is a force of an album. Rolling Stone gave it ★★★★★, a rating the (somehow still relevant after all these years) magazine has given to only 22 other albums in its history.
I think you could have guessed that I didn’t used to be a Beyoncé fan. I didn’t actively dislike her or her music, I just didn’t pay attention to her and her music. Of course I’d heard some of her songs, but before Lemonade I would have been hard pressed to name even one. I had forgotten that she was the former “centerpiece” of 90s phenomenon Destiny’s Child. What drew me to her? It was the hour-long video that went along with the release of the album. I missed it when it aired on HBO on April 23. But there was enough of a rumbling out there caused by its release that I sought out the video and watched it a few weeks later.
And that was all it took. One sitting, an hour long, running through all 12 of the albums tracks, with a stellar video performance for each one. From that point on, “Hold Up” — the 2nd song on the album — was stuck on repeat in my head. I bought the CD / DVD version of the album (yes, the CD, because it wasn’t available in vinyl or on the streaming services I subscribe to at the time), and then listened to it on repeat for a few weeks straight.
Every single song on this record kicks ass. It has guest appearances by a ton of people, like Jack White, The Weekend, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Diplo, and Ezra Koenig. It’s decidedly sparse in places, and pops in all the right ways. The lyrics are often pissed off and vulgar. In all ways, this album should be considered a stretch by Beyoncé, pushing her out of her pop music safe zone. Instead, it’s her best work yet, and it kills. You have not lived until you’ve heard this album. Get on that.
7. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
8. Goodness by The Hotelier
9. The Mountain Will Fall by DJ Shadow
10. Junun by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express
11. The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
12. Amen & Goodbye by Yeasayer
13. Sea of Noise by St. Paul & The Broken Bones
14. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
15. Painting Of A Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
16. Why Are You OK by Band Of Horses
17. Not To Disappear by Daughter
18. Sunlit Youth by Local Natives
19. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
20. ★ by David Bowie
21. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
22. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations