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Beyonce's Lemonade is critics' top album of 2016

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

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image copyrightSony Music
image captionBeyonce's album was launched with an hour-long special on US television

Beyonce's politically charged visual album Lemonade is the music critics' favourite album of the year.

The record, which tackles themes of black empowerment and female identity, topped a "poll of polls" compiled by the BBC.

It beat David Bowie's elegiac swansong Blackstar, which was released two days before his death in January.

Third place went to Frank Ocean's Blonde, a sprawling, impressionistic take on art-soul.

The top 10 albums of 2016

Beyonce's sister Solange also fared well. A Seat At The Table, her soulful, thoughtful portrayal of the struggles faced by black women, both historically and in 2016, came fifth.

The full top 20 looked like this:

The results were compiled from 25 "album of the year" polls, published by the most influential magazines, newspapers and blogs in music - from specialist publications like Billboard and Q Magazine to more mainstream outlets, such as Cosmopolitan and Digital Spy.

The records were assigned points based on their position in each list - with the number one album getting 20 points, the number two album receiving 19 points, and so on.

There was a huge diversity in the critics' picks, with 145 albums cited across the 25 polls surveyed by the BBC.

However, Beyonce's album featured in all but one of those lists, and was ranked number one nine times.

"Lemonade sums up everything that Beyonce is about," said The Independent. "She delights in the power of her sexuality, of her swagger, and her sheer genius of innovation. That's without getting into how she tackles police brutality, capitalism, and standards of beauty for black women."

Her album "feels larger than life yet still heartbreakingly intimate," added Rolling Stone, "because it doubles as her portrait of a nation in flames."

The 25 "best of" lists appeared in: The Atlantic, The AV Club, Billboard magazine, Consequence of Sound, Cosmopolitan, Digital Spy, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The i Newspaper, Mojo, NME, NPR, Paste, Pitchfork, Q Magazine, Rolling Stone, Salon, Spin, Stereogum, The Times, Time Magazine, Time Out London, Time Out New York, Uncut and Vice.

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