She’s been the undisputed queen of music for the past fifteen years, but her reign is sure to live on even after she bows out gracefully to fulfill her duties as a mother and wife. Beyonce’s career has seen extreme highs and undisclosed lows, but in her career there’s one thing she has given all of us that’ll last a lifetime: the music.
Queen Bey has released six studio albums since 2003. In that time she has racked six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, endless Grammy Awards, and established herself as the greatest female performer of all time. Last night she kicked off her long awaited joint tour with husband, Jay-Z. With rumors afloat that the couple are planning to release a joint album in the fall of this year, let’s take a look at each of Queen Bey’s solo efforts and determine which album should have the strongest presence on her tour’s setlist.
6. “I Am…Sasha Fierce” (2008) — While this album produced arguably her greatest singles to date (‘Single Ladies’, ‘If I Were a Boy’, ‘Halo’), the overall product was inconsistent. The ballads themselves felt very nostalgic, yet underproduced. The uptempo songs felt forced and overproduced. There were some good moments, such as “Broken Hearted Girl” and “Ego”, but as a whole, the work didn’t seem cohesive.
5. “Dangerously in Love” (2003) — Make no mistake, Beyonce’s first album introduced the starlet could do it all. Lead by the number one singles, ‘Crazy In Love’ and ‘Baby Boy’, the album showcased the performer had as much versatility as a performer as anyone who was fresh and new in the game as she was. Vocally, Beyonce’s voice was still finding it’s strength. The album would remain her most urban album until 2013.
4. “Beyonce” (2013) — Single handedly the album that changed the entire rollout of albums for this generation. With a perfect blend of trap-radio friendly beats, and electronic influences, Bey unleashed her most sonically engaging commercial opus at the time. Where her vocal gymnastics were absent, slicker rhymes and poetic melodies bounced amongst fierce production on standouts like “Partition”, “Blow”, and the album’s biggest hit, “Drunk In Love”, with hubby Jay-Z.
3. “4” (2011) — While her least commercially successful effort, her greatest exhibit of diverse sounds and production is the legend’s fourth studio offering. The album showcased that Beyonce could dance with the islands on “Countdown”, tear up the dance floor with “End of Time”, mitigate languish in “I Miss You”, and paint a gem perfect for wedding bells with “1+1”. The album’s best song? The retro-delight that is “Love on Top”.
2. “Lemonade” (2016) — When Beyonce sang “you can taste the dishonesty it’s all over your breath” in the first line of the album’s opener, “Pray You Catch Me”, you instantly felt the emotion she was conveying. An album rooted in heartbreak and regaining trust in one’s relationship, the album is cited as her strongest work and plays with each sound, including rock, pop, and R&B. Taking her artistry to another level, she created an entire film that depicted the sentiment of each of the songs on the album.
#1 – “B’Day” (2006) — The undisputed champion of Yonce’s catalog is her second offering, proving she had no sophomore jinx. Queen Bey provided her ultimate combination of retro-soul, with hip-hop swagger, and subtle pop that it still seems timeless these twelve years later. The singles were stacked: the Ne-Yo driven “Irreplaceable”, Jay-Z featured “Upgrade U” and “Deja Vu”, the Swizz Beats assisted “Get Me Bodied”, and the vengeful “Resentment.” Queen Bey at her absolute finest.