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Here's a list of the year's top 10 albums and songs from Associated Press music editor Mesfin Fekadu.


1. "Lemonade," Beyonce

Just when you think Beyonce has topped herself — she tops herself. She followed the surprise release of 2014's "Beyonce" with another epic album — "Lemonade" — singing lyrics about a troubled relationship, family life and black pride over songs that were R&B, rap, rock, pop, country and more. The album — a work of art, really — goes from emotional and passionate to playful and upbeat, showcasing Queen Bey's growth and stamina. She continues her run as the leader in pop music and pop culture.

2. "Anti," Rihanna

And close behind Bey is Rih. "Anti" comes four years after Rihanna's last album — her longest break between projects — and the time was used wisely: She's a firecracker throughout the album, delivering her swag on songs that range from fun ("Work") to sultry ("Kiss It Better") to kinky ("Sex With Me.")

3. "A Seat at the Table," Solange

I want a seat at Solange's table, just to tell her thank you: Her new album — and guys, she's been making grand music for ages — is a cohesive, deep and raw look into the soul of an artistic woman navigating in life. She brings interludes back to the album format — something absent for a while — to tell stories that push you to think.

4. "24K Magic," Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars is easily the most unique and talented pop star on Earth: His new album, a '90s-inspired R&B adventure, proves that while he was a party boy on "Uptown Funk," he is THE party boy on "24K Magic."

5. "Illuminate," Shawn Mendes

It's good that Shawn Mendes is a teen heartthrob, because young girls are finally falling in love with a real musician. The 18-year-old takes it to a new level on his second album, coming off as a bona fide rock star. His guitar playing has advanced, his songwriting has matured and his vocals are crisp: This kid's the real deal.

6. "Coloring Book," Chance the Rapper

Kudos to Chance the Rapper, 23, for not signing with a major label and releasing his brilliant music independently and finding success as a major force in music. While labels are helpful, Chance has everything he needs: He's a talented rapper who marches to the beat of his whole drum, with the youth right behind him.

7. "Hero," Maren Morris

Maren Morris is a spectacular country singer who blends multiple genres on her major debut album, offering a fresh sound with songs as layered as "My Church," as playful as "Rich" and as soft as "I Could Use a Love Song." There's not a bad tune on "Hero."

8. "Malibu," Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak's "Malibu" is full of mellow, hip-hop soul songs that can put you in a relaxed mood.

9. "Joanne," Lady Gaga

Can you please let Lady Gaga live? While she is one of the decade's most successful pop stars, at times, she is underrated. But on "Joanne," she ditches the sound that made her famous and further proves she's not basic. She's a boss.

10. "Mind of Mine," Zayn

In One Direction, Zayn was a boy; on his solo album, he's a grown man — brilliantly weaving R&B, soul, pop and other genres together to make one of the year's best albums.


1. "Cranes In the Sky," Solange

On a song about trying to move on, Solange tries a few things to get on with life: drinking, having sex, shopping and running away. It's an honest tune over a mid-tempo beat produced with the help of a musical genius named Raphael Saadiq. And Solange's vocals glide nicely over the track, ending it with memorable coos, and making it the year's best.

2. "Mercy," Shawn Mendes

In 2014, there was Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud." Last year, we had James Bay's slow burner "Let It Go." This year, it's all about Shawn Mendes' "Mercy," the aching, heartfelt and emotional rock track.

3. "All the Way Up," Fat Joe and Remy Ma featuring French Montana and Infared

Everyone wants Remy Ma to win after she returned to music following her 2014 release from prison. And she's definitely winning with the year's best club track.

4. "Hold Up," Beyonce

Don't we all want to Beyonce in the yellow dress, swinging her bat in the music video for "Hold Up"?

5. "Love on the Brain," Rihanna

Rihanna's live performance of old-school R&B track "Love on the Brain" reminds you that HOMEGIRL CAN SING.

6. "My Church," Maren Morris

Maren Morris is refreshing beyond words. Period.

7. "Breathe," India.Arie

This songbird's soft and acoustic song about the current troubles of the world makes the hard times just a little easier to deal with, thanks to India.Arie's voice and that guitar.

8. "Black Beatles," Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane

OK, what's not to love about this track?

9. "Chantaje," Shakira featuring Maluma

We all know Shakira's hips don't lie, but neither does her voice: "Chantaje," which means "Blackmail," is a sexy, beat-laden Spanish track that features rising singer Maluma and has us anticipating the Colombian queen's new album.

10. "#1 Spice," Young Cardamom and HAB

While Disney's "Queen of Katwe" is worth watching because of acting by Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, the real star of the film is the fun and upbeat song "#1 Spice," by performers Young Cardamom and HAB.