With the first half of the year complete, here are the best-reviewed major albums released from January through June, ranked by Metascore. Note that EPs, compilations, and reissues are excluded, as are any albums receiving fewer than 15 reviews from critics.
It's not all that surprising that Beyoncé would release another surprise album this year. What is a surprise is that it was somehow even better than her previous one, 2013's Beyoncé. Lemonade is just part of a busy 2016 for the pop star, which has also included a one-hour HBO film (which the network is submitting for Emmy consideration), a performance during the Super Bowl halftime show, and a world tour.
The rapper's third mixtape follows his acclaimed 2013 breakthrough Acid Rap and last year's collaboration with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Surf. The free album became the first-ever streaming-only release to debut on Billboard's top albums chart, and a change to Grammy eligibility rules earlier this month means that Coloring Book could be among the first streaming albums to contend for major awards next year.
Coloring Book is one of the strongest rap albums released this year, and is destined to be on year-end lists aplenty. It's a more rewarding listen than Drake's recently released VIEWS; it's nearly as adventurous as The Life of Pablo.
Here is a look at the albums that received extremely positive reviews, but not enough of them to qualify for our list above. (In other words, consider them the year's best under-the-radar releases.) Albums on this list received 7-14 critic reviews. (Titles with fewer than seven reviews are excluded from all high scores charts.)
What are your favorite and least favorite albums of the year so far? Let us know in the comments section below.