Beyoncé started her career in 1997 with the Destiny’s Child single “No, No, No.” Nearly 20 years later, and she is still at the top of her game, selling out arenas and dominating the MTV Video Music Awards stage. With nearly two decades — and 10 albums — under her belt, it seemed appropriate to take a look at her discography (both with Destiny’s Child and without) and figure out exactly which Beyoncé album is truly the best.
10| Destiny’s Child (1998)
The debut of Destiny’s Child was not all that impressive, but you have to start somewhere. The album features beautiful harmonies and a few standout tracks, even if they do sound painfully ‘90s.
9| Destiny Fulfilled (2004)
The reunion album of Destiny’s Child came after members Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland had already put out their own solo albums, and it seemed a little forced. We must keep in mind: they did it for the fans. The album does, however, deliver energetic hip-hop beats and great pop hooks. Plus, the love-your-man mantra “Cater 2 U” could easily be one of the best R&B songs of the mid-2000s.
8| Dangerously In Love (2003)
Beyoncé’s solo domination started right out of the gate with her massive debut single “Crazy In Love,” one of her first collaborations with future husband Jay-Z. This album has some of Beyonce’s best vocal work (see the title track) and some of her most iconic songs to date, but the direction of the album was questionable. Was she a pop star? Was she an R&B princess? It was a little scattered, but it was a solid debut effort.
7| Survivor (2001)
This was Destiny’s Child’s first album to feature the lineup we know and love today: Beyoncé, Kelly, and Michelle [Williams]. It was a massive success, featuring four top 10 singles, with two of those being number ones. It is a great mix of pop, r&b, and dance music and one of the defining albums of the turn of the century.
6| I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008)
Arguably one of Beyoncé’s most successful albums because it features the mega pop single “Single Ladies,” this album is a unique piece of art that puts into context the artist in her everyday life versus the artist on stage. The first half of the album is slow and moving with tender vocals that show Beyoncé’s softer side, while the second half of the album is ready for any gay club or concert venue because of its energetic dance numbers and the Beyoncé sass we’ve come to love. She might have exchanged Sasha Fierce for Yoncé, but that doesn’t mean this pop gem isn’t worth remembering.
5| B’Day (2006)
Beyoncé’s sophomore set — and the official Beyoncé-went-solo album — is a magnificent mixture of Beyoncé’s fun personality, sexy persona and outstanding vocals. This album was put together just as Bey was taking part in two major films, “The Pink Panther” and “Dreamgirls.” It has nearly everything anyone could need from a Beyoncé album, and it was her first venture into making music videos for nearly all the tracks on an album. (11 of the 14 tracks on the deluxe version of the album have an accompanying video.)
The sophomore album of America’s favorite r&b/pop girl group from the late ‘90s is a masterpiece. The whole album is set off into commandments, each song being preceded by a short phrase that explains what the girls want. This allows the album to feel like a continuous storyline of feelings, emotions and desires. Not to mention, this is the album that houses “Say My Name,” arguably one of the best r&b songs from 1999.
3| BEYONCÉ (2013)
Often referred to as ‘the surprise album’, Bey’s fifth studio album was her most daring (at the time). It was dark, haunting and sexy. Featuring a wide array of artists from Drake to Frank Ocean to Jay-Z to poet Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and even her daughter Blue Ivy, this album came for the music industries jugular. It secured her a spot on the throne as one of the most dominant forces in the industry and showed everyone that Beyoncé had something important to say, stamping FEMINISM in all caps behind her as she toured the album during the On The Run Tour with husband Jay-Z. “BEYONCÉ” was more than a great album, it was an artistic statement.
Beyoncé’s fourth studio album is her most outstanding effort… vocally. It is her first departure from the traditional sounds of pop music, where she started trying something new (i.e. the percussion backing in “Run The World” and the traditional r&b sound in “Love On Top”). It was when Beyoncé switched lanes from pop star/entertainer to artist/legend/icon. Commercially it remains her biggest failure, the only album in her repertoire to not contain a top 10 single. Still, even with all the commercial disinterest, this album is nearly her best. (Notice: I said nearly.)
The visual masterpiece that is “Lemonade” is Beyoncé’s best for the sheer fact that it transcends genre. Queen Bey jumps from pop number “6 Inch” to r&b/electronic ballad “Love Drought” to rock collaboration “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White to the reggae fusion track “Hold Up” and even to the country/soul track “Daddy Lessons.” She stays on top. She stays sexy and confident. She even stays political, calling out to help the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This is Beyoncé at her best and it will truly be something if she can top it with her next studio set.