Apple Music 100 Best Albums

This is an image of the album cover for “@@album_name@@” by @@artist_name@@.




The Queen draws inspiration from a shifting pop landscape—then remakes it in her image.

When Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth album landed unannounced on the iTunes store in December 2013, the pop world trembled. Here was one of music’s biggest stars dispensing with the normal prolonged rollout of a major work, instead simultaneously alerting people to it and releasing it. But BEYONCÉ would have been a career achievement no matter how it came out: Across its 14 tracks, Beyoncé pushes herself artistically and emotionally, opening up about her insecurities, her sexuality, and her happiness over songs that demonstrate the strength and versatility of her voice.

Pop’s sound had shifted at the turn of the decade, with electropop-influenced tracks taking the spaces on radio and on the charts where Beyoncé and other R&B-leaning artists had ruled during the 2000s. On BEYONCÉ, the singer and mogul showed that, radio play or no, she was still a member of pop’s ruling class—and she did so not by flipping pop’s script, but by drawing inspiration from its most enticing aspects to write a new playbook.

“I was working around the clock, trying to unlock the Beyoncé code.”

Ryan Tedder


BEYONCÉ did feature culture-ruling collaborators like Drake, who plays B’s foil on the skeletal “Mine,” and Frank Ocean, who locks up with Beyoncé on the sumptuous Pharrell Williams production “Superpower.” But Beyoncé’s willingness to explore music’s edges resulted in the album existing on its own plane, aware of the pop world’s trends but diverging from them in thrilling ways. BEYONCÉ represents a major turning point for Beyoncé, beginning the stage of her career where she would define pop stardom—on her own schedule and on her own terms.