Ranking the Best Beyoncé Albums

We’re about two weeks out from the release of Beyoncé’s sixth album Lemonade and if you ask The Beyhive, Bey’s collective of rabid superfans, it’s Beyoncé’s greatest work.

Well, call down Staniel and Stanyella, Lemonade might be new and shiny but “latest” doesn’t always equal “greatest.”

Let’s set the record straight and rank Beyoncé’s discography from worst to best. Obviously, this list will only include her solo albums, not her LPs with Destiny’s Child – which were all pretty good, minus the candy-coated Bootylicious album. Ugh.

But as this list proves, even at her worst, Beyoncé is still pretty good.

dangerously in love

6. Dangerously In Love (2003)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Baby steps. Bey’s first album was certainly crammed with successful singles — many of them still beloved today. But overall, the set felt uneven in places, with a couple of tracks sounding like they were resurrected from Destiny’s Child’s cutting-room floor. Far from ***Flawless but still a noteworthy debut.

Forgotten favorites: “Yes,” “Signs,” “That’s How You Like It”

i am sasha fierce

5. I Am … Sasha Fierce (2008)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (read our review here)

Edd said: Bey’s identity-crisis era has always polarized fans. I’ve heard her double-disc set called her worst album by far, as well as one of her best outings. It’s certainly not a bad album (there’s no such thing as a bad Beyoncé album) but playing up the divide between her soulful R&B songstress persona and  domineering diva antics doesn’t work as well as it probably looked on paper. There are some truly great efforts here, many of them are just clouded by inferior tracks.

Forgotten favorites: “That’s Why You’re Beautiful,” “Scared of Lonely,” “Ave Maria”

4

4. 4 (2011)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (read our review here)

Edd said: I swear I didn’t place 4 at No. 4 on purpose. At the time, 4 was Bey’s most mature work and quickly became the blueprint for subsequent albums. Forceful girl-power anthems, pleading ballads, pop hits that drag you to the dance floor — they’re all here. Bey tends to overextend herself vocally in a few places (actually, in a lot of places) but occasional screechiness aside, 4 was a step in the right direction.

Forgotten favorites: “I Miss You,” “Best Thing I Never Had,” “I Care”

lemonade

3. Lemonade (2016)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5 (read our review here)

Edd said: And THIS is the moment my timeline gets trolled. But y’all gonna get this truth: Conceptually, Lemonade is a near-masterpiece, especially when you factor in the downright hypnotizing visual component. It’s some of the best storytelling I’ve heard in the genre in decades. But song for song, the album gets a bit uneven during its second half. Call it one of the better albums of 2016 but certainly not the best Beyoncé has to offer.

Forgotten favorites: This album is too fresh to be forgotten, so let’s go with underrated cuts: “Freedom,” “All Night,” “Pray You Catch Me”

beyonce cover

2. Beyoncé (2013)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5 (read our review here)

Edd said: The infamous “secret album” literally came out of nowhere one night in December (right after ABC;s Scandal aired — Bey knows her target audience) and it landed with the force of a megaton meteorite. Not only did it rewrite the rules of album promotion, it became the quintessential Beyoncé album, marrying R&B, pop, hip-hop and gospel into one superb package. If there were any doubts about Beyoncé’s superstardom before its release, this was the album that erased them all. Still, there is one album that’s just a bit more complete….

Forgotten favorites: “Blue,” “Jealous,” “Pretty Hurts”

bday

1. B’Day (2006)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The biggest fault I have with Bey’s later albums is that she experiments with too many contrasting sounds. Sometimes it makes for a disjointed listen. That’s a mistake B’Day never makes, making it Beyoncé’s most cohesive — and consistent — album to date. While not all of the pop records hit the mark, the defiance of more traditional R&B cuts like “Irreplaceable” and “Resentment” and attitude that oozes from hip-hop inspired tracks like “Upgrade U” are some of the best songs Bey has ever recorded. B’Day might not get the hype but it’s Beyoncé at her best.

Forgotten favorites: “Kitty Kat,” “Resentment,” “Déjà Vu”

How would you rank Bey’s catalog? Here’s your chance to speak up – let us know below.

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10 Comments

  1. Interesting list. Similar but here’s mine.

    6. Dangerously In Love
    Honestly, singles aside, it’s a messy album, full of really undercooked, underdeveloped slow R&B snoozers that don’t really showcase anything the Queen has to offer.
    5. I Am…Sasha Fierce
    There are so many incredible tracks on this album, but there’s also Ave Maria, which is only one of a handful of missteps this two disc set has to offer. Mostly, it’s the album of hers that has “aged” the worst, since I was obsessed with it at the time of it’s release.
    4. B’Day
    This is when shit starts getting GOOD and it’s really hard to rank them. This album is great from beginning to end. Really not a bad track in the bunch. LOTS of underrated goodies on here, and it bops hard in a lot of places. Put simply, as Beyonce has gotten older and has stuff to actually SAY, this album can feel a bit, young? Juvenile is the wrong word, because it still slays, but I just prefer my Beyonce with more of a “voice.”
    3. Lemonade
    I agree with the above post. As a piece of work, as a storytelling vehicle, it’s brilliant. It’s also annoyingly short. The songs themselves are some of her most adventurous and feature some of her best tracks to date, but it’s too early to tell how well they will age. Still an incredible work of art.
    2. BEYONCE
    The surprise release to end all surprise releases. While lacking the “storytelling” aspect of Lemonade, the fact of the matter is, these songs are simply incredible, and paired with the videos, this is a MASTERPIECE of audio/visual media and such a grand feat.
    1. 4
    I have to wildly disagree with the review above. Her voice has never sounded better than on this record. She’s really reserved her vocal histrionics in these most recent albums, but here she was in full maternal/pregnancy (even if she wasn’t actually pregnant during the recording of this album) mode and her voice was so warm and full and raw. These songs showcase Beyonce the vocalist in a way no other album has. It also is her most timeless collection of music that I think will hold up best in 10-20 years.

  2. OMG, I was just thinking really bad – right here from Brazil – about the best of Beyoncé discography. It was hard to ranking all of them six albums, but I was surprised we think EXACTLY the same! I loved Lemonade, but Beyoncé and BDay are the artist at her best. I really can notice a higher level after 4 in that list. Despite the great commercial performance of DIL and IASF, with many huge hits and stuff, these two works can be placed a little level down the four others. Loved the ranking!

  3. 6 – Dangerously In Love – This album was early days and doesn’t have the replay value that other albums do. Other than Crazy In Love, Dangerously In Love, Speechless, Me, Myself And I, Naughty Girl and Baby Boy this album is just meh for me.
    5 – B’Day – It has a lot of hits on it, but it gets neglected by Beyonce too much nowadays (with the exception of irreplaceable and ring the alarm), and there was too much Jay Z on this one album… although I am waiting on that joint album from them both…
    4 – BEYONCE – Game changing album proving Bey is the queen of any genre of music she wants, but after the third listen I got bored and now struggle to get through the whole album.
    3 – I Am… – Smash Into You is my favourite Beyonce song, but Ego is also my least favourite Beyonce song so this album is mixed for me. It has iconic hits on it, and it made Beyonce the queen of music she is today, but it isn’t as good as 1 and 2.
    2 – 4 – Mature, classy, fun, smooth… This album has everything, except one special ingredient.
    1 – Lemonade – THE VISUALS. This album is political, emotional, proud and it shows off all of Bey’s talents. Rock? She can do it. R&B? She can do it. Ballads? She can do it. Pop? She can do it. Country? She can do it. The message behind this album is powerful and socially important right now and I haven’t gotten bored of any of the songs yet and I’ve been listening on repeat since it was released.

  4. 1. 4
    2. BEYONCE
    3. Dangerously In Love
    4. B’Day
    5. I Am… Sasha Fierce

  5. Leandro (from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) October 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    I simply love Dangerously in Love! I think it’s almost as good as B’day. My ranking:
    1. B’day
    2. Dangerously in Love
    3. Lemonade
    4. Beyoncé
    5. I am… Sasha Fierce
    6. 4

  6. 1. 4
    2. B’day
    3. Beyonce
    4. Lemonade
    5. IASF
    6. DIL

  7. 1. 4
    2. B’Day
    3. Dangerously in Love
    4. BEYONCE
    5. Lemonade
    6. IASF

  8. 6. I am… Sasha Fierce
    This has the least replay value of all her albums in my opinion. The singles were good but a little generic. The dual persona also doesn’t help at all. The I am… Side didn’t have enough soul and the sasha fierce felt like it was forcing itself.

    Best tracks
    If I were a boy, Single ladies, sweet dreams

    5. B’Day
    This is actually a pretty ok album. In my opinion it is just as good as her first album for the exception that her first album has much higher highs (and lower lows). The only thing this album doesn’t do for me is give Beyonce a chance to breathe. Although its clear she doesn’t need to, I just wonder what she could have done had she given herself more than 2 weeks to record this. Oh well

    Best tracks
    Upgrade U, resentment, irreplaceable

    4. Dangerously in Love
    Outside of Daddy, gift from Virgo, and that terrible interlude this is a pretty good album with amazing standouts (CIL, BB, MM&I, NG, BWY). Only issue is her voice was not as developed as it is now. You can also hear in some songs that she doesn’t all the way know what some of the feelings are. If Bey ever decided to record her first album it would be the shit.

    Best tracks
    All four singles and Be with you

    3. Lemonade
    I’m placing it at 3 because its still very new and I nees years to sit on this album. I love the experimentation. It works for her and for the first time she sounds natural with music outisde of her usual genre. However she misses in a few places. Vocally, I wanted more from her on sandcastles and I also wanted more on all night (its perfect though). I wish that the 4Beyonce had recorded Lemonade lbs. Never the less I love the record and hope the she continues in the direction. It suits her

    Best tracks
    Formation, all night, pray you catch me

    2. 4
    Amazing performance from Bey. Vocally her best effort yet. The only issue is that some of the lyrics in a few songs threw me a off a little bit but not too much. Honestly coming off the IASF era this could have been a massively successful era with multiple number 1s and millions sold WW. Bey just chose the wrong lead single. Had Countdown led this album I believe that Bey would be even bigger than she is now. (SN: Countdown is the quintessential Beyonce song. It has everything that is identified with her sound. Big brassy horns, bass, her voice is firing through those runs like a canon. Perfect song from Bey.) 4 sounds like a classic album. Has the most replay value than any album she has and it screams charisma. There are just a few issues I have for this album. The standard version doesn’t have dance for you, which is the best sex jam bey has recorded (sorry rocket), also Run The World (and I get what she was trying do) is terrible. Its too noisey and way to clunky. I agree on this album she did overdoing (a tad bit) but I wanted to hear her challenge herself. (Sorry for the long paragraph about 4. I’m just pissed she let this album go to waste)

    Best tracks
    Countdown, 1+1, miss you

    1. BEYONCE
    Secret drop aside this album is amazing. She speaks on so many topics and although it was sharp departure from the vocally adventurous four I still love the exploration in the lyrics as well as the production. I also love that she used her lower register more, it definitely added a layer that we had not heard from her before. Beyonce at her finest hour. A titan claiming her domain.

    Best tracks
    No Angel, jealous, drunk in love.

  9. My ranking would be
    1.B’Day…This album is the only one that I can listen to in it’s entirety over and over. It has the perfect balance of pop and R&B to make it appealing.
    Favorite songs: Ring The Alarm/Green Light/Irreplaceable (this list is pretty hard to decide…I could go on..Freakum Dress Kitty Kat Upgrade U :P)

    2.Dangerously In Love…When her solo career all started…this might be an odd choice for #2 but it’s just pretty memorable to me (for the most part).
    Favorite songs: Crazy In Love/Naughty Girl/Dangerously In Love

    3.4..Bey at her most mature. This was before her pregnancy but you could just feel that she expected it. It’s the album where she used her voice the most. She toned down on the pop hits and went a more contemporary route (which she should definitely do again).
    Favorite Songs: 1+1/I Care/Party

    4.Lemonade…the visual one. The album itself wasn’t as magnificent but what the made the album special was the visual. The visual empowered many and will probably be remembered.
    Favorite Songs: Pray You Catch Me/6 Inch/All Night

    5.I Am..Sasha Fierce…I call this a split album. I Am is my favorite one of the 2 since I prefer the ballads and slow songs but Sasha Fierce also has many memorable hits.
    Favorite songs: If I Were A Boy/Video Phone/Halo

    6.Beyonce…the surprise one. It suddenly hit the world one night. This one got hype mainly because of the release. While it’s a good album I find it highly overrated. The visuals were good but after Lemonade, this just looks ok. There are good songs but many overrated ones.
    Favorite Songs: Partition/Haunted/No Angel (I’d replace No Angel with Bow Down if you consider that a separate song since it’s technically a part of Flawless)

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