As you must have heard, unless you live under a rock in the middle of nowhere, the reigning Queen of R&B, Beyoncé, finally released her sixth studio album Lemonade. The 12-track collection is vastly different from Beyoncé’s last album, the self-titled piece released in December 2013. Lemonade, a beautiful narrative, might very well be Queen B’s most emotional work to date. Below is our definitive ranking of every track on Lemonade from least best (because if we’re being completely honest, every song on the album is good) to the absolute best.
12. Pray You Catch Me
The opening track of Lemonade bears some resemblance to some sort of gospel song. With a string of breathy vocalizations for the first near-minute of the tune and Bey’s breathy vocals, we could tell it would be something entirely different than the rest of her songs. And right we were.
Just as it hits the forty-second mark, the song transforms and becomes a piano ballad, layered over with beautiful orchestral strings. In “Pray You Catch Me”, Beyoncé reveals the themes of doubt, agony, and affection that the whole album revolves around.
With lyrics like “I’m prayin’ you catch me listening” we realize B wishes to be found in her eavesdropping as she yearns to determine the extent of her lover’s suspected infidelity. The song ends with Beyoncé whispering “What are you doing, my love?” which foreshadows the overall leitmotif of the album as a whole.
Our rank: 7/10
11. FORWARD (feat. James Blake)
The shortest song on the album, FORWARD serves as a second turning point. Beyoncé has worked hard to forgive her lover’s infidelity, decided that she would like to work things out between the two of them and is now moving FORWARD.
British singer James Blake collaborates with B on the track and the two of them sing the same lyrics in tune, indicating that the man’s voice is now a source of solace, rather than a partner in anger, as in DON’T HURT YOURSELF.
We definitely wish there were more to this song, as B and Blake’s voices mix together beautifully. It’s a short song, but it’s a very beautiful song all the same.
Our rank: 7.5/10
10. ALL NIGHT
ALL NIGHT basically serves as the end of the album, as FORMATION is the last track and everyone has already heard that one. The song is a groovy love ballad that illustrates what true love is — “The greatest weapon, to end the war caused by pain.”
Beyoncé crows that despite the pain and disappointment she has had to endure in her relationship, she was able to overcome it and is determined to make it work. ALL NIGHT brings a beautiful end to the album, especially when you consider the fact that earlier tracks mostly mentioned B’s apathy about her broken marriage. It is in this song that you realize that she will never stop loving her beau and will do whatever she has to in order to fix them, as long as he is also willing to put in work.
With ALL NIGHT, the album really has gone in a complete circle, taking us on a beautiful journey from start to finish. The song ends with Beyoncé whispering “How I missed you, my love” and the album ends differently from how it began.
Our rank: 8/10
9. LOVE DROUGHT
The seventh track signals a shift in the mood of the album. Whereas the first six songs featured Beyoncé asserting that she was over the relationship and had no plans to try to revive it. LOVE DROUGHT, however, is a plea to reignite the wrought relationship, despite the fact that it is nearly dead as a result of her lack of trust and his lack of commitment.
The kinetic drums, floating synth line, and rich bass selection, supplied by producer Mike Dean, add an airy feel of the hopeful song. Throughout the song, she voices her insecurities and begs her lover to tell her why she wasn’t good enough for him, especially because she was always “committed,” “focused,” and “devoted.”
The song ends with B telling her lover that the two of them could “stop this love drought,” meaning they could restore their love to its former glory.
Our rank: 8.5/10
An emotionally raw ballad, SANDCASTLES is a highly symbolic tune. It refers to the titular image, beautiful works of art that are easily washed away by the ocean.
The sandcastles symbolize Beyoncé’s relationship with her husband in that what they have is beautiful, but just one small thing could easily destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to build together.
A line repeated a couple of times in throughout the song “and although I promised I couldn’t stay, baby / every promise don’t work out that way,” suggests that B promised she would leave if Jay Z cheated and now that he actually has, she can’t bring herself to fulfill that promise. She sings about how although their marriage has been tested and severely damaged she is still hopeful for their future.
Our rank: 8.75/10
7. DADDY LESSONS
The sixth song on Lemonade is Beyoncé’s first venture into country and, honestly, we wouldn’t be in the least bit surprise if it gets nods from some of the country awards later on this year. DADDY LESSONS is about just what the title suggests — lessons B learned from her father as a child growing up in Texas.
Clearly influenced by bluegrass and complimented by a strumming guitar and a steady handclap, Beyoncé reflects on her childhood. She sings about the way her father “made a soldier” out of her and “held [her] hand,” proposing that he might have been strict on her, but loved her nonetheless. The song undoubtedly raises questions about the unconventional ways she was taught by her father (shooting when a man like her father comes around) and have something to do with why B is now so opposed to gun violence.
Beyoncé’s daughter makes a cameo at the end of the song, saying “Good job, Bey,” likely a nod to her mother, who insists she will not raise her child the same way her father raised her.
Our rank: 9/10
6. FREEDOM (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
This song is a mix of blues, rock, soul, and gospel all squeezed into just under five minutes. FREEDOM is an African American rights anthem, featuring rap star Kendrick Lamar.
The powerful anthem draws several striking parallels between the horrors of slavery endured by millions of African Americans and the current state of racism that undoubtedly still exists in today’s society. Using the symbol of chains, Beyoncé shows how, despite the fact that our society has obviously advanced since the abolishment of slavery, elements of discrimination are still prevalent and it is unacceptable.
Kendrick Lamar, who received critical acclaim for speaking specifically about black power on his album To Pimp A Butterfly serves a potent third verse, pleading for change and advocating for racial equality.
It is at the end of the song that we finally understand where the title Lemonade came from. There is a skit from Hattie Walker, Jay Z’s grandmother and Beyoncé’s grandmother-in-law, from her 90th birthday party, where she said, “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to cool myself off. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”
Our rank: 9.5/10
5. HOLD UP
This song takes on a light reggae beat, which is rather ironic, considering the fiery lyrics. In the three-minute song, Beyoncé belts out lines like “They don’t love you like I love you,” and “I don’t want to lose my pride, but I’mma f*** me up a b****.”
An emphatic ode to her lover, Queen B explains that she does indeed still love him, but her love will not stop her from discovering his true motives, even if doing so drives her to the point of insanity.
Our rank: 9.75/10
Although it’s the last track on Lemonade, FORMATION feels more like a bonus turn up track, especially coming after the slow ALL NIGHT.
It sounds like it belongs on Beyoncé’s previous self-titled album, what with its hardcore beat and lyrics. B also hits back at haters who have criticized her child’s hair, saying “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros.”
The song is definitely not just a hot bop though. FORMATION is a Black Power anthem that preaches self-love and tolerance. Released in Black History Month, the song is a perfect #BlackLivesMatter anthem, full of sharp political lyrics. Queen B does, indeed, slay with this track and all of Lemonade’s tracks.
Our rank: 10/10
3. 6 INCH (feat. The Weeknd)
The second collaboration of the album is an ominous track that is sure to become a hit. 6 INCH is a not only a worker’s anthem, but a women’s anthem. The song encourages women to continue working and making their own money so that they don’t have to depend on any man to provide for them.
Canadian artist The Weeknd appears on the track, singing the very first verse about how the woman is a self-made superstar who can flourish anywhere in the world with her talent, whether it be the United States or Mexico.
The lead single from Lemonade, 6 INCH is a song about female empowerment, singing in the chorus “she murdered everybody and I was her witness,” meaning that the woman basically slays everything she does and looks amazing while doing so.
Our rank: 10/10
Despite being called SORRY it immediately becomes evident that Beyoncé makes no apologies for the problems that occurred in the relationship. Throughout the mid-tempo track, B assures her problematic ex that she’s not even thinking about him anymore and is completely past wanting to make amends.
SORRY definitely takes on a “sorry, not sorry” attitude, as the phrase “Sorry…I ain’t sorry,” echoes in the background. She sings about her regret surrounding the relationship, even admitting that she wishes she hadn’t gotten married.
Near the end of the song, Beyoncé assures her ex-lover that she and her baby (daughter Blue Ivy) will be alright, with or without him in their lives. In a lyric that will surely go down in history, Beyoncé insists that her husband calls “Becky with the good hair,” a possible reference to Jay Z’s alleged mistress Rachel Roy.
Our rank: 10/10
1. DON’T HURT YOURSELF
The third song of the album (and our pick for the best on the album) also serves as the first collaboration. Joining Beyoncé on the hardcore banger is former White Stripes singer and guitarist Jack White.
DON’T HURT YOURSELF features Beyoncé literally screaming for nearly five minutes, telling her lover that by hurting her, he is, in turn, hurting himself. Jack White comes in on the chorus of the song, belting out the lines “When you hurt me, you hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself / When you diss me, you diss yourself, don’t hurt yourself / When you hurt me, you hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself.”
The rock track also makes several unashamedly direct references to Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z, as she tells that he is ruining their relationship not only because he cheated on her, but because he refuses to work to repair the broken trust. In perhaps the most savage lyric on the entire album, Beyoncé ends the song by saying, “You try that s*** again, you’re gonna lose your wife.”
Our rank: 10/10
We waited three long years for B’s sixth album and we are definitely not in the least bit disappointed with Lemonade. Beyoncé showcases her immense talent as she steps away from her normal hip-hop genre and dabbles in country and reggae. We might be jumping the gun, but we’re sure Lemonade will a slay all upcoming music awards, namely the 2017 Grammys.
What are your favorite songs on Lemonade? Comment below or tweet us @CelebMix.