It’s hard to talk about the first half of the year without immediately jumping to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Leave it to Queen B to not only set the internet ablaze with yet another surprise release, followed by an amazing Super Bowl performance but pull off the feat of a “movie album.” Interweaving her own personal narrative while also speaking to a much larger audience, Beyoncé presented us with a complex, stunning and emotional journey, while also pushing herself forward as an artist and setting the bar higher (yet again) for everyone who would come after.
So, what else happened this year so far? Frank Ocean finally dropped not one, but two albums. Yeah, you read that right; after countless memes and false release dates we have new Frank Ocean music. Chance the Rapper dropped a masterpiece of his own, Britney Spears is back (though she never really left), Drake scammed his way into having one of the most successful albums of the year, Ariana Grande made the first move into her “Dirrty” era and Rihanna and Kanye both dropped their respective (and also much delayed) projects, and that’s really not even scratching the surface.
It’s been such a front loaded year for music; all the heavy hitters have been releasing everything at the same time. There’s talk that Katy Perry could be coming back sooner than expected, Lady Gaga’s new song drops next week and several heavy hitters have projects that are being rumored to drop in the coming months. But enough about what’s coming, let’s look back at what’s already dropped. Among all of the big releases this year, what’s really stuck out so far?
Sia Furler was a major force in the world of pop music long before she exploded onto the scene with 2014’s mega-hit “Chandelier.” Before the now iconic blonde bob, before the music video featuring Maddie Ziegler, Sia was cranking out hits for artists like Rihanna, Flo Rida, David Guetta. So much of her image has been crafted around the woman behind the music, that when she thrust herself onto the main stage, one wondered if she had what it took to become a lasting presence and not just a flash in the pan. Her brilliant sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear was recorded and released to simply release her from her recording soundtrack, and put an end to any idea that she was going to be one of the major pop girls. The rest is history.
It’s hard to talk about Rihanna’s latest album without discussing the long, seemingly never-ending, rollout that preceded it. I can’t remember an album campaign this confusing, or frustratingly drawn out as this one in my lifetime. And whether you want to believe all of the rumors concerning the singer’s dissatisfaction with various versions of the album or her search for songs to actually put on the album, is entirely up to you.