NEW YORK (AP) — A list of the year’s top 10 albums from Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu.
1. “Lemonade,” Beyonce: Just when you think Beyonce has topped herself — she tops herself. She followed the surprise release of 2014’s “Beyonce” with another epic album — “Lemonade” — singing lyrics about a troubled relationship, family life and black pride over songs that were R&B, rap, rock, pop, country and more. The album — a work of art, really — goes from emotional and passionate to playful and upbeat, showcasing Queen Bey’s growth and stamina. She continues her run as the leader in pop music and pop culture.
2. “Anti,” Rihanna: And close behind Bey is Rih. “Anti” comes four years after Rihanna’s last album — her longest break between projects — and the time was used wisely: She’s a firecracker throughout the album, delivering her swag on songs that range from fun (“Work”) to sultry (“Kiss It Better”) to kinky (“Sex With Me.”)
3. “A Seat at the Table,” Solange: I want a seat at Solange’s table, just to tell her thank you: Her new album — and guys, she’s been making grand music for ages — is a cohesive, deep and raw look into the soul of an artistic woman navigating in life. She brings interludes back to the album format — something absent for a while — to tell stories that push you to think.
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4. “24K Magic,” Bruno Mars: Bruno Mars is easily the most unique and talented pop star on Earth: His new album, a ’90s-inspired R&B adventure, proves that while he was a party boy on “Uptown Funk,” he is THE party boy on “24K Magic.”
5. “Illuminate,” Shawn Mendes: It’s good that Shawn Mendes is a teen heartthrob, because young girls are finally falling in love with a real musician. The 18-year-old takes it to a new level on his second album, coming off as a bona fide rock star. His guitar playing has advanced, his songwriting has matured and his vocals are crisp: This kid’s the real deal.
6. “Coloring Book,” Chance the Rapper: Kudos to Chance the Rapper, 23, for not signing with a major label and releasing his brilliant music independently and finding success as a major force in music. While labels are helpful, Chance has everything he needs: He’s a talented rapper who marches to the beat of his whole drum, with the youth right behind him.
7. “Hero,” Maren Morris: Maren Morris is a spectacular country singer who blends multiple genres on her major debut album, offering a fresh sound with songs as layered as “My Church,” as playful as “Rich” and as soft as “I Could Use a Love Song.” There’s not a bad tune on “Hero.”
8. “Malibu,” Anderson .Paak: Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu” is full of mellow, hip-hop soul songs that can put you in a relaxed mood.
9. “Joanne,” Lady Gaga: Can you please let Lady Gaga live? While she is one of the decade’s most successful pop stars, at times, she is underrated. But on “Joanne,” she ditches the sound that made her famous and further proves she’s not basic. She’s a boss.
10. “Mind of Mine,” Zayn: In One Direction, Zayn was a boy; on his solo album, he’s a grown man — brilliantly weaving R&B, soul, pop and other genres together to make one of the year’s best albums.