Best Albums of the 2010s – #6
Lemonade – Beyoncé (2016)
Beyoncé’s Lemonade is more than a great collection of songs (though it is that). It is a personal and political statement, at once deeply confessional and universally deep. It is also a “visual album” that links its tracks with spoken-word poetry and mesmerizing visuals.
It’s a project only an artist with the confidence and swagger of Beyoncé could pull off. And pull it off she does, beautifully.
‘All Night’ is the penultimate track on Beyoncé’s extraordinary 2016 “visual album” Lemonade. The early single ‘Formation’ closes things out, but this track is the emotional resolution, and on of the album’s best songs.
Much was made of the anger on Lemonade‘s early tracks (“he better call Becky with the good hair”), and people initially thought the album might even be Beyoncé’s very public way of leaving Jay-Z.
Somewhere Tom Petty is slamming his fist against a table and crying out, “Why did I have to draw Beyoncé in the first round?!”
Mrs. Carter rules pop culture right now, musically, socially and politically, while Petty is a deeply respected classic rock dinosaur. Is it even a fair fight?
Beyoncé’s Lemonade has been declared the album of the year by unanimous decree. I don’t think I read a single top ten list that didn’t put the “visual album” at the top, and with good reason.
Nobody else has the power to bend popular culture to her whim the way Beyoncé does. Adele and Taylor Swift might sell more albums, but they don’t inspire hundreds of political and cultural think pieces. They don’t spark protests on both sides of hot button issues.
The best album I’ve heard this year — and a safe bet to hold that crown through year’s end — is Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Unveiled as an HBO movie before being released as a proper album, Lemonade details the effects of infidelity on a marriage, from anger and denial through healing and forgiveness.
While some maintain that artists shouldn’t be equated with their work, I think it’s pretty clear that this song cycle is about Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The fact that Jay-Z basically holed up in a bunker for the first month or so after Lemonade‘s release feels like confirmation.