Beyoncé – LEMONADE
The epitome of showmanship, Beyoncé attempted to replicate the release strategy she employed for her self-titled 2013 album again with one of the year’s most talked about projects LEMONADE. Starting with her “Formation” single and its powerful imagery, controversy over its apparently anti-police rhetoric didn’t stop “Formation” from taking over radio (or stealing the Super Bowl Halftime Show).
LEMONADE, initially released to the world by way of a short film on HBO, had Beyoncé praising the resilience and defiance of Black women (“Sorry”), warning her lover not to take her for granted (“Don’t Hurt Yourself”), and even crafting an anthem for Black people in general (the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Freedom”). Each of the ten tracks could exist on its own, but collectively they told a love story, about the good, the bad, the ugly, the redemption, and the reconciliation. But the album’s greatest accomplishment was how it showed Queen Bey could defy classification in any genre – “Daddy Lessons” tiptoed into country music; “Hold Up” had an island groove element not heard from her since 2003’s “Baby Boy;” and collaborations with Jack White (“Don’t Hurt Yourself”) and The Weeknd (“6 Inch Heels”) ventured into rock. –Bradford Howard