26 July 2022

From early noughties R&B to stadium filling art-pop: Beyoncè albums ranked

With Queen Bey’s long awaited ‘Renaissance’ just around the corner, join HUNGER as we rank the enigmatic pop star’s six solo projects.

Not many of us would stick around for six years waiting for an artist to drop, but when it comes to Beyoncé we’d wait an eternity. The former Destiny’s Child star is releasing her seventh studio album, Renaissance, this Friday and here at HUNGER, we’ve been meticulously counting down the days.

In celebration of the upcoming release, HUNGER are going through the history books to rank the idol’s stellar discography.

6. Dangerously In Love

Although a solid addition to the glory days of steamy early 00s R&B, Dangerously In Love manages to be lost amongst other projects of that era that have stood the test of time. At its core, it’s a project that is full of typical R&B conventions not providing anything wildly unique which would set Beyoncè apart from her peers.

When the LP opens with timeless banger ‘Crazy In Love’ you’d be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the album would follow its high-octane lead, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. But it was the kickstart for Beyoncè’s career, showing glimpses of the astronomical potential she’d fulfill later on in her stellar career.

5. I AM…SASHA FIERCE

An album containing some of music’s biggest ever hits being your second worst project is probably a good thing. ‘Single Ladies’ is still the club anthem that gets those, well, single ladies flooding to the dance floor and inspired arguably the most infamous pop culture moment of the century. Alongside that, ‘Halo’ is still Beyoncè’s biggest hit to date when it comes to streaming numbers. 

I AM…SASHA FIERCE is Beyoncè’s first attempt at a concept album, with the first half of the album featuring an emotive, more personal side to the star and the latter half sees the artist transform into her aptly named fearless alter ego, Sasha Fierce. Unfortunately, outside of the classics, the album misses the mark. The project at points even sounds a little more dated than her debut five years earlier.

4. B’Day

Despite coming before I AM… SASHA FIERCE, this album seems to be the answer to some of the issues that plagued that LP. B’Day trades in the mega hits for a concise and focused project and there aren’t nearly as many low points as her follow-up. The album takes a backseat to the bombastic production and allows Beyoncè’s glistening vocals to shine throughout.

Clocking in at 20 minutes shorter than the two previous albums it’s nowhere near as bloated, never overstaying its welcome. While it’s still not up to Knowles-Carter’s immensely high standards of today, the project shows a clarity and attention to detail she would later perfect.

3. 4

Rather annoyingly, 4 comes in third place, just about scraping into the podium. 4 came after a huge shift in focus for Beyonce’s career. In 2010 she announced a hiatus and ended her business partnership with her father, who acted as the singer’s manager in the 90s. Only a year later Beyonce returned with her aptly titled fourth studio album, 4. The album quickly cemented itself as the star’s best project at the time, providing us with a more uplifting tone than seen prior.

The unmatched energy is prevalent throughout and the album boasts the inspiring ‘Best I Never Had’ along with the boisterous, pulse-raising horns of ‘Countdown’. 4 is Beyoncè truly finding her feet and finally giving us that consistently great record we all knew she was capable of.

2. Beyoncè

With the impressive 4 still fresh in the memory, Beyoncè didn’t rest on her laurels with her next album. If prior to its release there were still questions about Beyoncè’s credentials as a music powerhouse, the release of her self-titled album squashed any doubts.

In a stroke of marketing genius, the Houston native dropped the conventional album rollout and released the project without warning, popularising the surprise release format in the process. Despite the lack of promotion the icon’s star power alone was enough to make it the number one selling album in iTunes history and became the artist’s fifth consecutive number one album.

The mature musical approach saw Beyonce take an alternative R&B approach over the poppier stylisations of her previous projects. Although taking inspiration from the likes of Frank Ocean (who appears on ‘Sometimes’) and The Weeknd, who ushered in a new generation of R&B, the album remains distinctly hers. The record marked a gargantuan leap for Beyoncè as she cemented herself as one of the biggest stars of the century.

1. Lemonade

There arguably hasn’t been an album that has sparked such viral intrigue since Lemonade dropped (who can ever forget “Becky with the good hair”). The deeply personal and vulnerable record came during a dark period in Beyoncè’s life, marked by her husband, Jay-Z’s, alleged infidelity. The culmination of those dark times resulted in a breathtaking art-pop extravaganza that acted almost like a therapy session for the singer, baring her soul on wax. 

Filled with quotables and show-stealing features from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, this is Beyonce’s magnum opus. Whether it’s country ballads or stadium-ready heavy hitters like ‘Formation’, Beyoncè simply does not miss. While it will be impossible to 

capture that lightning in a bottle moment this record provided, we can only hope Renaissance will be a continuation of Beyoncè’s artistic mastery.

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Instagram / Beyonce

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