Only ten nights ago on December 12th, 2013, when many were getting prepared to go to sleep and carry on the next day with their average, ordinary life, Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter cracked the lid off of the music industry yet again and provided what seemed like an early Christmas for many. Timelines exploded and tumbled with pictures of the album cover, stills of videos, and just pictures of the “queen” herself. Being the music nerd that I am, I had to form my removed and isolated opinion over the album in this short amount of time, shrouded away from the hype and hysteria of the internet and social media. Even though Beyoncé has been wed to husband Jay-Z for over 5 years now, this is the first release that we see the superstar present herself as “Mrs. Carter” and I for one, am all for it. Being arguably the hardest working woman in the music industry, we know that Beyoncé could not just release a regular album, and leave it at that; she had to level up. Her self-titled album includes a total of 14 tracks and 17 music videos, chronicling her daily life and proudly being booed up with her hubby. The album gives the more personal feel than we’ve ever seen from the artist thus far, but on a level of blatant and unashamed honesty. Strong themes of feminism, marriage tribulations, hardships and joys of motherhood, love for the world and sexual empowerment circulate through the album, making this time around more dark than before as the artist adjusts to the ever evolving transitions of her life that come with age and wisdom. The production features artists all the way from hit-maker Timbaland, to Pharrell and even frontman of One Republic Ryan Tedder, who has penned many a song for some of today’s top artists. On song “Mine” featuring ultra-sentimental rap star Drake, we get the best idea of the aforementioned dark theme of this album with a brilliantly stark beat switch up from a low-tempo, heart-wrenching ballad about hurt and uncertainty in the beginning. This mood then moves to a mid-tempo classic love duet between the two that cannot be describe as anything but perfection. The feel of the album is classic Beyoncé, and offers the broad appeal that continues to reach hundreds of millions worldwide and inspiration that spans the globe. The main goal of this album is to let fans know that Beyoncé has always been here, but Mrs. Carter has finally arrived and she is just as strong, bold, and twice as sexy, in the most none cliche way as possible. I chose this album as number 10 on my list because I feel like it was a solid Beyoncé piece of work and offered us the same fun and exciting tracks to dance to, the same empowering songs to hold our heads high to, and the same down-tempo love songs for those heartbroken nights; but on a higher level of overall maturity and craft that only an artist who’s had as much experience and musical caliber as she has can speak on.
Best Song and Production: “Mine” ft. Drake