NEW YORK (AP) – The top 15 albums of the decade by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu:
1. BeyoncÃ©, â€œLemonadeâ€: At the beginning of this decade, BeyoncÃ© was already the greatest singer of her generation. She won a record six Grammys in a single night, had women AND MEN â€œoh-oh-ohâ€™ingâ€ to the fun sound of â€œSingle Ladiesâ€ and continued to be a beast of a performer. But somehow Superwoman – shoot, sheâ€™s Superman, too! – found a way to do more: Like a boss she launched her own company, Parkwood Entertainment, and really took the bull by the horns of her career. In 2011, she released the R&B adventure â€œ4,â€ featuring classics like â€œCountdown,â€ â€œLove on Top,â€ â€œParty,â€ â€œEnd of Time,â€ â€œI Careâ€ and â€œI Miss You.â€ Three years later – in surprise form – came â€œBeyoncÃ©,â€ her bold, audacious and daring album that showcased a new side of BeyoncÃ©: Goodbye was the girl who cared about topping the charts, and born was an artist, a true storyteller, a grown woman. Somehow, she topped herself again with â€œLemonade,â€ which still tastes as good as it did when it was released in 2016. The usually private BeyoncÃ© bares her soul on the album, singing about a troubled relationship, black pride and motherhood in a brave way. Lyrically, sheâ€™s on point and honest over beats and sounds that range from rap to rock to country and pop. â€œWho the (expletive) do you think I am,â€ she brashly asks on â€œDonâ€™t Hurt Yourself,â€ which co-stars Jack White. The answer: the greatest of all time.
2. Rihanna, â€œAntiâ€: Something was in the water in 2016: BeyoncÃ© delivered â€œLemonadeâ€ and Rihanna gave us the best album of her career with â€œAnti.â€ Rihanna had been moving like the Energizer Bunny since releasing her first album in 2005. She also put out albums in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 – showing that she was a singer who knew how to pick a hit, record it and make it sound better than any other artist could. But she took four years to create â€œAnti,â€ and the time was used wisely. No need to hit the skip button on this album as Rihanna shows her sultry side on â€œKiss It Better,â€ her twerk side on â€œWorkâ€ and her vocal chops on â€œLove on the Brain.â€ Her hard work, work, work, work, work, work has truly paid off.
3. BeyoncÃ©, â€œBeyoncÃ©â€: See earlier entry.
4. Adele, â€œ21â€: Back in my day – well in 2010 – record labels sent albums months in advance, and in November 2010 I received Adeleâ€™s â€œ21.â€ Everything else around had to be turned off. I was sucked in. Months later, so was the world. THE ENTIRE WORLD. Adele was impressive on her 2008 debut, especially on â€œHometown Glory,â€ but with â€œ21â€ she went deep, too deep, she was rolling in the deep! Literally. Each song made you feel something – sad, lonely, bouncy, fired up, calm, angry, lost. And nine years later, each song sounds as classic as they did at first listen, especially â€œTurning Tables,â€ â€œSet Fire to the Rainâ€ and the incomparable â€œSomeone Like You.â€
5. Kendrick Lamar, â€œgood kid, m.A.A.d cityâ€: All of Kendrick Lamarâ€™s albums released this decade have been masterpieces, including the 2011 independent release â€œSection.80â€ as well as the major-label projects â€œTo Pimp a Butterflyâ€ and â€œDAMN.,â€ which won him the Pulitzer Prize for music as he made history as the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize. Lamar has profoundly mixed his poetry with hip-hop, jazz, soul, funk and African music to create songs that tackle blackness, street life, police brutality, survival and self-worth. And with 2012â€™s â€œgood kid, m.A.A.d city,â€ this great kid immediately raised the bar not in only in hip-hop, but in music period, forcing his peers to do better and try harder.
6. HAIM, â€œDays Are Goneâ€: The sister trio HAIM reached perfection on their debut album. Hit play. And that is all.
7. SZA, â€œCtrlâ€: SZA is masterful and introspective on her confessional debut album, which follows a young woman going through life and the turbulent e xperiences that come with it, from dating dusty boys to dealing with self-doubt.
8. Janelle MonÃ¡e, â€œThe ArchAndroidâ€: According to contemporary pop folklore, Janelle Monae arrived on the pop landscape from another planet, and boy do we need more artists from that sphere to land here now. On the beautifully theatrical â€œThe ArchAndroid,â€ she brilliantly paints the picture of an android, Cindi Mayweather, who finds out she is the chosen one and is trying to figure out how to handle her newfound mission. The versatile album has so many highpoints, including the Fela-flavored â€œDance or Die,â€ the playful â€œTightrope,â€ the groovy â€œLocked Insideâ€ and the addictive â€œFaster.â€
9. Katy Perry, â€œTeenage Dreamâ€: Iâ€™ll quote the opening line of my 2010 â€œTeenage Dreamâ€ review, which came before the album matched the record Michael Jacksonâ€™s â€œThrillerâ€ set by launching five No.1 hits: â€œKaty Perry’s new CD is like a magical slot machine: Select any song and you’ll hear a hit.â€
10. Bruno Mars, â€œ24K Magicâ€: Bruno Mars released three epic albums this decade, but â€œ24K Magicâ€ was a whole mood.
11. Solange, â€œA Seat at the Tableâ€: Solangeâ€™s art-piece of an album will move you to think, and sing along, at the same time.
12. Sam Smith, â€œIn the Lonely Hourâ€: Unrequited love ruled Sam Smithâ€™s debut album, introducing the world to a piercing voice that is brave and honest.
13. Nas, â€œLife Is Goodâ€: Nas is still the best rapper of alive. Donâ€™t at me.
14. Taylor Swift, â€œ1989â€: After dabbling in it on “Red, former country singer Taylor Swift hopped, skipped and jumped into the pop music world with â€œ1989,â€ an adventurous album full of hits, hits and more hits.
15. Kacey Musgraves, â€œGolden Hourâ€: With timeless songs like â€œSpace Cowboy,â€ â€œButterflies,â€ â€œSlow Burnâ€ and â€œLonely Weekend,â€ Kacey Musgraves proved to not just be golden, but grand.