It’s Beyoncé eve for me and my fiancé! Tomorrow night we will be in a stadium watching Beyoncé perform hits from her extensive catalog of music. In light of that, I wanted to take some time and rank Beyoncé’s solo albums from best to “worst”. Keep in mind that I actually love all of these albums but when you take Beyoncé’s growth as an artist into consideration, some albums are going to be better than others.
Lemonade is Beyoncé’s most cohesive album/project to date. This time she took the visual album to a whole ‘nother level by making it into a complete film. Instead of giving us a bunch of random visuals, she gave us a story with Lemonade (the album and the movie). I really don’t even listen to this album on shuffle because I prefer to take the journey of the story each time I listen. Shuffling through the songs doesn’t really allow you to do that. I love that Beyoncé didn’t sugarcoat anything with the lyrics on this album or with the film. She’s unapologetically Black and unapologetically a scorned woman. Everything she sings is exactly what a woman in that position would say. The sadness, the anger, the love, etc. Those are all very real emotions and the way she’s talking on this album is truly authentic to the feelings that she’s trying to convey. I really appreciate the fact that Beyoncé kept it all the way real on this record.
Highlights: “All Night”, “Love Drought”, “Sorry”
Two words: VISUAL ALBUM. Now there may have been other artists’ who have released visual albums before but apparently none of them had the same impact as Beyoncé’s self-titled release in 2013. I hate when I hear an album, fall in love with the songs, imagine what the music video will be like and then when the actual video comes out, I end up disappointed. With this visual album, Beyoncé basically made sure that we saw HER VISION instead of creating our own in our head’s first. I don’t think Beyoncé has ever made a music video that I was disappointed with anyway, but the fact that she completely eliminated that possibility by already having the music videos done was just perfect. And to make it even better, the music was really good too. There’s not one song on this album that I’m constantly skipping when it comes on. I love every single one.
Highlights: “Drunk in Love”, “Rocket”, “Jealous”
Beyoncé was doing her good singing on 4. You can really feel the emotion radiating through the speakers on this album. Beyoncé is so underrated as a vocalist, but if you listen to this album from start to finish, you will realize that her voice is impeccable. Homegirl can SANG, okay?! I feel like this album is like a more mature mix of the best elements of Dangerously in Love (lyrical content) and B’Day (musicality and vocal prowess). Even the most stripped down songs on this record are beautiful and incredibly moving. The second best thing about this album is the lyrical content. I feel like this is a married woman’s album. If you’re in a relationship, you can probably relate to the lyrics of just about every song.
Highlights: “1+1”, “I Care”, “Dance for You”
On B’Day we met a more grown and sassy Beyoncé. The Beyoncé who wasn’t going to take any shit. This album was created in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. It was also the beginning of my “standom”. This album marked the moment that I realized that Beyoncé was way more than a pretty face and a nice voice. She was (and still is) an artist. B’Day was the first album where it became apparent that Beyoncé was really serious about mastering her craft. Even the background vocals on B’Day are amazing. Seriously, find a clip of the “Upgrade U” background vocals and you’ll be pleased. She experimented with and expounded on the sound that she had created with Rich Harrison on “Crazy in Love” and made a full album that included live instrumentation (horns, drums, etc). Prior to this album, Beyoncé performed with a track (the music, not necessarily the vocals) but almost all B’Day performances featured a live band. The choreography was better, the vocals were better, the performances as a whole were better. This was the era where you could really tell Beyoncé was pushing herself to be the best version of herself. B’Day was also the humble beginnings of the visual album that we have been able to experience with Beyoncé’s last two projects. There is a video for every song on B’Day except Resentment and they were on the B’Day Anthology DVD after the album’s deluxe edition was released. Most artists weren’t doing this back in 2006/2007 so it was kind of a big deal then. And Beyoncé has been able to make it an even bigger deal now with her innovative album roll-outs.
Highlights: “Upgrade U”, “Kitty Kat”, “Green Light”
Dangerously in Love
Dangerously in Love was our introduction to Beyoncé as a solo artist. Aside from the three up-tempo singles (“Crazy in Love”, “Baby Boy”, and “Naughty Girl”) and “Hip Hop Star”, this album consists mostly of mid-tempo slow jams and ballads. I was only thirteen when this album was released so it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I was able to truly appreciate the latter half of this album. This record laid down the foundation for Beyoncé to move in and out of the pop and R&B world simultaneously. When compared to the albums of other artists, Dangerously in Love is quite the masterpiece. But when stacked up against Beyoncé’s own discography, it falls short due to a few musical missteps (“Hip Hop Star”, “That’s How You Like It”, “Daddy”). This album is not nearly as cohesive as the rest of her work. It starts off with heavy up-tempo records and by track five, you’re in mid-tempo and ballad territory. I’m not quite sure who’s idea that was, but it wasn’t a good one. And though her vocals are always superb, when you listen to this album today, you can really tell she was just a baby here.
Highlights: “Crazy in Love”, “Me, Myself, and I”, “Speechless”
I Am… Sasha Fierce
I love all of Beyoncé’s albums. I truly do. But I Am… Sasha Fierce is definitely my least favorite. Aside from a few highlights on the album, IASF feels uninspired and unfinished. When compared to the other albums in Beyoncé’s catalog, this one sounds like a compilation of filler tracks and B-sides. However, the vocals on this album are great. The fact that Beyoncé’s voice only gets better and better is this album’s saving grace. Bey’s vocals are literally soaring and sweeping all over this record. After the B’Day era, when people were starting to think Beyoncé was some kind of one-trick pony who could only be the loud and powerful diva, Bey proved on this album that she can sound just as angelic as Sarah McLachlan if she wants to.
Highlights: “If I Were a Boy”, “Halo”, “Diva”
It’s amazing to me that none of these albums sound the same. Beyoncé has truly grown as an artist, an entertainer, and a business woman over the years. She’s constantly outdoing herself and at this point, she is her own competition. Even if you’re not the biggest fan, you have to respect this woman’s hustle. And before you assume that her music isn’t for you, try listening to some of the songs I highlighted just to be sure.