Beyoncé’s Albums Ranked, from Great to Greatest

If you have met me, or read anything I’ve ever written, or picked up on my psychic energy, you know that I love Beyoncé. She’s the HBIC of our entire cultural landscape, which is actually really major. It’s so important that a powerful woman of color is making daring artistic choices and subsequently gaining the respect and admiration of even the most unlikely people.

She hasn’t ended sexism or racism or anything, she’s a human woman, but she is an exceptional role model to girls—she is an avowed feminist and activist, and she embraces and celebrates her sexuality without shame. She is a mother, a distraction and sacrifice for many, yet has released her best and most gripping work since her daughter was born. Motherhood, for Bey, is one of the many facets of femininity, and she glorifies it without being exclusionary. She’s got the whole world breathlessly awaiting the birth of her twins, so let’s celebrate the mother of all icons!

Aside from being our generation’s biggest icon, she’s a musical artist. A singer, songwriter, and producer that has more hit songs than you can shake a stick at (that’s a phrase, right?) It’s not just her image that is valuable. She’s got songs! Six solo albums worth of glorious songs! A lot of people have only begun to truly appreciate Queen Bey in the past few years, more for her persona than for her actual talent, which is a damn shame. She has been out here on her own since 2003, making our lives better with her art. I present to you Beyoncé’s six albums, in order of the quality of the songwriting on each. This was not easy, but we live in the age of listicles and all must be ranked. Here they are, in order from great to greatest.

B’Day (2006)

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Released on her 25th birthday, B’Day is Beyoncé’s second solo effort, best known for spawning the hit single “Irreplaceable“. This is the reason that everyone spent the entirety of 2007 saying “to the left, to the left”. This album was released before I became a Bey-votee, but I would hardly be the aficionado I claim to be if I did not revisit her early works.

I don’t have much to say about B’Day, apart from that it is musically pretty unremarkable. Apart from “Irreplaceable”, it doesn’t have any stand-out tracks. Even the two songs featuring Jay-Z are forgettable. The lyrics, however, are all about female empowerment, laying the foundation for her later work. Solange also has some writing credits on this album!

One thing worth noting is that, apparently, every song on this album has a music video, which indicates that, even seven years before she stealth-dropped the movie/album Beyoncé, visual representation was a priority.

Listen to “Ring the Alarm” and get ready to be pissed at your man.

Dangerously in Love (2003)

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This is Beyoncé’s debut solo album, y’all! She came out the gate spitting venom. “Crazy in Love (feat. Jay-Z)” is an enduring banger and “Naughty Girl“, which samples Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby”, is one of her sexiest tracks to date. This album, as a whole, is hardly a musical revelation, but it certainly proved that Bey’s career would be just fine without the other ladies of Destiny’s Child. “Baby Boy” notably features Sean Paul, as all songs did in the year 2003. That was currency back then.

Much like B’Day above, Dangerously in Love was merely sowing the seeds that would bloom Beyoncé into the iconic matriarch she is today.

P.S. Fuckin’ shout-out to “Stole” by Kelly Rowland. I mean no disrespect to the alumnae of Destiny’s Child.

I Am…Sasha Fierce (2008)

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I Am…Sasha Fierce is, in my opinion, Beyoncé’s first cohesive album. Like the first two albums, Sasha Fierce spawned a ton of hits, but for the first time, the album was more than a vehicle for singles. The concept was that the double album’s second side would represent the perspective of Beyoncé’s alter ego, Sasha Fierce, an edgier stage version of the wholesome image of Beyoncé. If I remember my pop culture history correctly, this is when people really started paying attention to Beyoncé as an artist, rather than just a pop star. Of course she was already an A-list celebrity, but 2008 is when the veil of mystique that she still wears was cast upon her. Earlier in the year, she married Jay-Z, and his influence no doubt led her to be more selective about her musical projects.

As the individual songs go, this album is a heavy-hitter. “If I Were A Boy” is not only a great track that picks up the girl power theme in a big way, the title also employs the subjunctive tense properly, which never, ever happens in songs. Sasha Fierce also notably contains what may be Beyoncé’s best song, “Halo“. And then, of course, there’s the pièce de résistance, “Single Ladies“, the music video that launched a thousand parodies. Shout out to Ms. Tina’s Deréon jeans! This video is what caused the Kanye Interruption heard ’round the world! No prior moment in Bey’s career so solidified her status as a cult leader an icon.

Also, in case you were wondering, a diva is a female version of a hustler.

Beyoncé (2013)

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I BEEN DRINKIN. WATERMELON.

This album is SO GD SEXY that I can barely handle it and I am a grown-ass woman. “Rocket“? “Drunk in Love“? Lord have mercy, “Partition“?!

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one of my favorite tweets, inspired by the surprise drop of beyoncé. worth noting that this refers to the obamas. the obamas. not whatever bullshit is happening now.

‘Twas in this era that we truly began to understand the cultural import of Queen Bey. SNL may have put it best in “The Beygency“. She had revealed years prior that she basically doesn’t need the media when she released the first photos of Blue Ivy on her own site. Then in December 2013, she blessed us with a surprise album that, SURPRISE AGAIN, was also a movie.

*very Stefon voice* This album has everything. Bey was not fucking around with this album. It opens with “Pretty Hurts“, penned by Sia—a scathing condemnation of damaging societal beauty standards. “***Flawless” features Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s TED Talk. This is the era in which Bey performed at awards shows in front of giant neon signs reading “FEMINIST”. Do not underestimate how important it was for a famous woman of color to declare herself a feminist—feminism is for everyone. It is inclusive and intersectional.

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I very nearly placed I Am…Sasha Fierce in this spot, but Beyoncé broke the internet and changed the world. Maybe I’ll listen to “Halo” more often than “Blow“, but I’ll always acknowledge the awesome power of Bey’s 2013 sexual revolution.

Bey has vast powers. She can sneeze on the beat and the beat gets sicker. Bow down, bitches. She’s a grown woman, and she can do whatever she wants.

 

4 (2011)

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The only, I mean the only, reason that this album did not take the top spot is the intro to the song “Party”, which features Kanye West rapping: You a bad girl / And your friends bad too / We got the swag sauce / She drippin’ Swagu. The rest of the song is actually great—it features André 3000, for chrissakes—but that Swagu line is so cheesy that I can’t endorse it and must bump the incredible, sensational 4 to second place.

The three most popular tracks on this album are “Run the World (Girls)“, “Best Thing I Never Had“, and “Love on Top“, during a performance of which she revealed her pregnancy with Blue Ivy. The song, apart from being an homage to her main musical influence, Michael Jackson, has a mind-boggling number of key changes. Her range is astounding.

The highlights of this album are, in my opinion, “Countdown” and “I Care” which is a stunning track that features some of Bey’s best vocals to date. She sings along with the guitar solo. It is chilling. Also, can we fucking talk about Frank Ocean’s writing and vocal contribution to “I Miss You”? If you can tolerate crappy-quality YouTube vids, there are quite a few of him performing the song alone, which melt me.

4 is just an incredible album. Every single track is a musical goldmine and I will love each one ’til the end of time.

P.S. I just re-watched the pregnancy-reveal video and cried when Kanye hugs Jay.

P.P.S. The official video for “Party” features J. Cole instead of André and in my opinion, this constitutes a war crime.

Lemonade (2016)

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Are you surprised, though? Know what surprises me? That Adele won a Grammy for Best Album over Lemonade. That’s institutional racism at work, friends. Beyoncé, despite jumping genres at a break-neck speed, is trapped in the less-respected “Urban Contemporary” category. SMDH @ the Academy forever. And I ain’t sorry.

Lemonade began its journey into our collective consciousness when Bey dropped the “Formation” video prior to her performance at the 2016 Super Bowl. It set the world ablaze, gave us all the best catchphrase of all time (“I got hot sauce in my bag”), and inspired one of my favorite SNL Digital Shorts, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black“, which skewers the criticism she faced over the controversial video.

Then, in the springtime, the season of rebirth, we were blessed with Lemonade. I will come out and say that I do not care if it is merely a performance piece and she and Jay were 100% fine the whole time. I don’t even care if the Solange elevator moment was unrelated. All I care about is that my queen collaborated with Jack White, Kendrick, James Blake, and The Weeknd to bring us this sensational vision.

P.S. In the time since I started this post, the new season of Kimmy Schmidt dropped, and with it an incomparable “Hold Up” parody by the incredible Tituss Burgess. They also riffed on “Sorry” and “All Night“. I will not rest until Tituss and Bey sing together IRL.

P.P.S. The album also inspired this fabulous video, back when there was still light in the world and we almost had a competent president.

P.P.P.S. Lemonade was released on HBO and Tidal, so not all of the mini-movies are available on YouTube. You can watch the pirate versions, of course, or you could just buy the fucking album.

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So, there you have it. Enough Beyoncé #content to have you in a YouTube k-hole for half a day.

63 Grammy nominations, 22 wins, 6 solo albums, 3 children, 1 Beyoncé.

Bow down, bitches.

Kool Things V

I’m a little light this week on recommendations because, well, I’ve been busy AF. I’m finishing the last bits of my grad school application, working full time, and committing to my Trivia host side-hustle. The WordPress drafts are getting out of hand! But here’s what I’ve been up to in my spare time.

Life in Pieces on CBS

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The first season of Life in Pieces  recently went up on Netflix, so I’ve been bingeing it, hard. Fig and I finished Breaking Bad and moved onto a 30 Rock rewatch, so I needed my own personal binge show for when our schedules don’t overlap (this is often). I’m trying to wean myself off of watching Gilmore Girls in an infinite loop, so when I saw LIP advertised on Netflix’s home page, I knew it would be a perfect fit. The cast of this show is bananas. Personal faves Zoe Lister-Jones (from Whitney) and Colin Hanks (from everything + being Tom Hanks’ son) join Betsey Brandt (from Breaking Bad), James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, and the stupidly handsome Thomas Sadoski in this light-hearted comedy told in 4 vignettes per episode.

The guest cast is insane—Martin Starr plays an exterminator, Jordan Peele makes frequent appearances as Colleen’s crazy ex, and apparently next season Mullally and Offerman have roles!

Life in Pieces is the perfect binge show for the lover of light-hearted comedies and accomplished casts. Highly recommend! Come for the famous actors, stay for the amazing kids! The kid who plays Sophia is the next Shailene Woodley or whatever, for real.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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The book, I mean. Everyone’s been pestering me for weeks to start watching the HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies, starring literally every famous actress. Until last week, I didn’t even know it was based on a book, but as soon as I saw it, I recognized its candy-colored cover. I’m a moderately strict book-before-movie person, so when offered the ebook for free, how could I refuse?

At first, I was a bit dubious of the quality of the writing—it’s certainly not the sort of thing I’d typically pick up at the bookstore. But within a few pages I was hooked. I think I’ve thrown off my circadian rhythm staying up way too late reading it. I was almost less interested in finding out who the murderer/murder victim is than I was of learning about Jane’s mysterious past or the inner-workings of primary school politics.

The book is very, very different from the HBO miniseries of the same name, but I truly can’t choose which is better! They both bring so much to the table! I highly recommend both, book-before-miniseries, of course.

I’ll follow up in the next Kool Things.

The Far Field, Future Islands

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It is no secret that I am f***ing obsessed with Future Islands. They are an amazing Baltimore-based synthpop band that brings me life. I first heard of them during college (Part I) when they put out their album In The Evening Air. All I had was a crap-quality (illegal) mp3 download of it, but I listened to it on repeat for months. I took to including “Long Flight” on every mix CD/playlist I made. Now that I am a grown-ass woman and pay for my music (thankyouverymuch), I’ve since remedied this earlier discretion and made sure to follow the band’s incredible career. 2014’s Singles was a revelation, and this year’s The Far Field is a fitting follow-up.

Lead singer Samuel Herring had one of the most unique and strange voices in all of music—he’s like the second coming of Mike Patton. He transitions from beautifully melodic and clean to heavy metal screaming with effortless ease. He’s also apparently a rapper (?!) which somehow I’m only just finding out about. You think I’d have such important info about my #mancrusheveryday.

This band is so ahead of the damn curve. They put out a sign language lyric video for “Cave”! “Shadows” even features actual icon/goddess Debbie Harry! The Far Field is the best use of your Hamilton ($10), trust. Future Islands is/are a big f***ing deal. Get into it.

Listen to “Ran” and “Cave” on Conan.

Bread & Butter Wines

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I always love trying out new wines, but as someone who hasn’t yet read Marissa A. Ross‘s forthcoming book yet, I’m often at a loss for where to begin as I peruse the racks at my local wine shop. I’m a bit of a white wine junkie (basic white bitch, party of one!), so I absolutely love a Chardonnay, and am always looking for one that tastes better than the well swill they’ll serve you at restaurants if you don’t specify.

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the older I get, the more I realize that that’s a bullshit adage. When it comes to products, the cover (or label) actually says quite a bit! Small businesses that really believe in their product tend to pay greater attention to aesthetic details, like graphic and web design. I was drawn to this particular bottle because of its clean, minimal label—the website is no different. Bread & Butter only produces two very highly-rated wines out of Napa, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (which, incidentally, are my go-to white and red).

Bread & Butter Chardonnay ran me about $11, which, imho, is just about right for an everyday wine. I can’t wait to try their Pinot Noir! I’ll definitely be buying this wine again!

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Well, those are the highlights of my week! What’s up with you? Any new fave wines or murder-mysteries to share? Sound off in the comments!

A Beginner’s Guide to Céline’s Cult of Personnalité

Céline Dion is Québécois royalty and this we avow*. If I’m being completely honest, for most of my life, I never gave much intentional thought to Ms. Dion. Growing up in the nineties and early ’00s, she was a ubiquitous, essential presence. I absolutely dare you to go grocery shopping without hearing at least one of her enduring bangers on the radio. The soft rock/pop vocalist genre never really did it for me, but it is impossible to deny both Dion’s talent and her contributions to pop culture.

*I deeply apologize for this ill-placed Evita reference.

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The music of Céline Dion harkens back to a simpler time in popular culture, when talented composers created sleek, radio-friendly hits for talented songstresses and their angelic voices. Now, I’m all for the singer/songwriter as a cultural character and a genre, but in many ways the push for authenticity of subject may have actually done damage to pop music in general. I want Ryan Adams to write all of his own songs, but I don’t feel personally connected to Kelly Clarkson’s input in the songwriting process, y’know? Songcraft is important.

Dion, whose 49th birthday is next week, is experiencing something of a career Renaissance right now (or maybe I’m just projecting?). She’s been performing on tons of awards shows, she recently recorded a version of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” that did quite well, and she recorded a ballad “How Does A Moment Last Forever” for the new Beauty and the Beast live-action film, starring Emma Watson and literally every other actor. The new song was a sweet throwback to when she recorded the theme song to the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast with the criminally underrated Peabo Bryson.

Last January, Dion lost her husband René Angélil, whom she had known since she was 12 years old. In honor of this beautiful queen rising from the ashes of tragedy, I’ve put together a short retrospective of her classic English-language hits.

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look at this marie antoniette-ass wedding ensemble. that is a 7-lb tiara containing 2,000 austrian crystals on her head. she is serving “bow down, bitches” realness while the haters are being automatically teleported to the left. (image source)

Vive la Reine, and may she never relinquish her French-Candian accent.

The Power of Love

That’s right, guys. The “I’m your lady / and you are my man” song. You are lying if you don’t know at least one couple that used this as their wedding song. This song is a classic—it’s sappy, romantic, and that high note at the end? Girl’s got the pipes. If you, unlike me, are ashamed of your love of power ballads, watch this video for no other reason than the haircut. #thefuckingnineties

How to listen: Drunkenly, at the end of a girls’ night out. Alternately, karaoke at a Bachelorette party.

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

From the first aggressive piano chord, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” is a fantastic, nuanced jam that manages at once to be angry ex-girlfriend diss track and a lament of lost love. It’s equal parts “I Will Survive” and “You’re Still the One”. Céline adopts a sexy rasp during the pre-choruses that breathes life into me. Baby, baby, BABY, this is, possibly, a perfect song.

How to listen: Home alone, belting along with hairbrush microphone in hand.

“Because You Loved Me”

I can’t find a decent version of this video, which is a shame. This song is excellent, so excellent in fact that it was the theme song to a Robert Redford movie. This is one of those Céline songs that has burrowed itself so far into your brain that when you hear it, you will unwittingly sing along to every word. The lyrics are essentially a laundry-list of reasons to love your bae, and frankly, it was a missed opportunity that I didn’t use them wedding vows.

“Because You Loved Me” won a Grammy and was nominated for the damn Oscar. I would be mad that it lost the Oscar, but it lost to “You Must Love Me” from Evita, and Andrew Lloyd Webber can do no wrong. In any case, the following year, Céline was vindicated, because “My Heart Will Go On” won for Titanic!

How to listen: While makin’ babies.

All By Myself

Céline’s cover of the 1975 Eric Carmen song is arguably as popular as the original—not an easy feat! This is an anthemic jam and you all know it. The lyrics are beautifully minimalistic, which imbues them with even more meaning—she’s by herself and she DON’T WANNA BE all by herself, damnit! “All By Myself” is probably the #1 sad jam ever written, and putting a varnish of Céline talent on it makes it all the more iconic.

How to listen: Driving home from work in the rain after a really hard day. Crying optional. I’d say post-breakup, but you’re no cliché.

That’s The Way It Is

This is the most late-nineties song ever recorded. Every pop artist had a song that sounds eerily like this one in the late nineties (see “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)“, “As Long As You Love Me“, and “Shape of My Heart” by the Backstreet Boys, “Sometimes” and “Born to Make You Happy” by Britney Spears, and probably an entire LeAnn Rimes or Faith Hill album, if I’m being honest. Is it the chord progression?) Céline’s, of course, is the epitomization of the trope. “That’s The Way It Is” is a pep talk in song form. Only Céline could get away with the lines, “Don’t surrender / ’cause you can win / in this thing called love,” and make the word “love” span 3-5 syllables.

How to listen: In the car with your single friends, to subliminally plant inspiration and positivity into their brains! Because you’re not a busybody or anything!

A New Day Has Come

This song is about the birth of her son. Could anything possibly be sweeter? Lines like “I was waiting so long / for a miracle to come” and “I can’t believe / I’ve been touched by an angel with love” are so uplifting and precious! What kind of sociopath doesn’t want to listen to a new mother’s impassioned love song/lullaby to her baby?

How to listen: At a gender reveal party, to liven up the mood when everyone finds out it’s a boy.

P.S. Céline in the video is #hairgoals af.

Beauty and the Beast (feat. Peabo Bryson)

It is beyond fitting that the theme song for the movie about the French Disney princess would be sung by the only French (Canadian) singer most Americans can name. And Peabo Bryson! How good is that guy? You may recognize his voice from every Disney theme song of the late eighties/early nineties.

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It is also incredibly fitting that the updated 2017 version of this song is performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend—two powerhouse vocalists who can actually hold a candle to the original performances. Ariana Grande’s impression of Céline is a divine inspiration. Go forth and reward your ears with this sultry ballad.

How to listen: On repeat for the past 26 years.

My Heart Will Go On

This Oscar-winning song is an enduring classic. I will never yield in my belief that this song is at the pinnacle of songwriting achievement. I don’t care that it’s cheesy. I don’t care that it conjures up images of baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio. If you don’t feel a profound connection to your emotions when you hear this song, check for a pulse. That flute/recorder part in the beginning? I melt. When the guitar and the harmonies come in in the second verse? RIP me. Dramatic key change? My spirit rises from the grave and floats off into outer space.

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“My Heart Will Go On” is still a part of the zeitgeist 20 years later for a reason. Do you still hear “You’ll Be in My Heart” by Phil Collins on the reg? Of course you don’t. You forgot that song even existed until right now. Before you rush off to watch Tarzan, at least finish reading this, though.

How to listen: When you can give it your full attention. When you can let the calming strains wash over you like a soothing bath. This song is the essential oils of music.

Honorable Mention

I Drove All Night

Céline turns this song, intended for Roy Orbison but popularized by Cyndi Lauper, into a early ’00s deep club track, and it is blissful. Think Cher’s “Believe”.

How to listen: Request this song next time you’re out, and watch the millenials & gen X-ers distinguish themselves from the gen z-ers or whatever they’re called. Y’all weren’t born.

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So, before I get into this bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (a personal inexpensive fave), someone come stop me from ordering The Essential Céline Dion. 2 Discs!

#YQY

—DellaBites

 

Kool Things II

This week was brutal. Here in vacation destination Boston it’s been in the teens weather-wise, which is enough to crush even the most ardent winter-lover’s soul. I just looked at trusty iPhone for an update—snow expected 3 days this week! I guess spring is cancelled this year.

Also, Daylight Savings was this week. Nothing like being forced to adjust your circadian clock in order to make it to work on time!

I definitely needed some literal and figurative sunshine this week, so let’s dive in!

Lana Del Rey

In honor of Lana’s new song, “Love”, I’ve been revisiting the back catalog. I truly forgot how much I love her music! Despite the fact that she’s really blown up in popularity over the past five years, which is typically the death knell of anything cool, she continues to do whatever the fuck she wants—if anything, her albums get progressively more esoteric and less radio-friendly as the years go by. I’m anticipating the forthcoming album, but in the meantime, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy:

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Get Born To Die, Paradise, Ultraviolence, and Honeymoon!

Baron Vaughn

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I couldn’t help but give a shout-out to actor and comedian, Baron Vaughn. I originally discovered him through the Netflix series, Grace & Frankie (which stars the legendary Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda), and have since gone on to devour his back catalog. He’s an absolute genius, and he’s blowing up right now.

He’s appeared on all your favorite podcasts, like 2 Dope Queens and Put Your Hands Together, he’s on 2 Netflix shows right now (the other being Mystery Science Theatre 3000), and his 90’s Disney cartoon theme-songs bit from SXSW nearly put my husband and me into comedy comas. He even replied to me on Twitter once! #braggingrights

Plus, I mean, look at him. He’s fine as hell. Go forth and discover your new favorite comedian!

Buy his album Blaxistential Crisis here.

Watch him do stand-up on Conan here.

Listen to his old podcast here.

Listen to him guest host 2 Dope Queens here.

Listen to him on Sooo Many White Guys here.

Listen to him on The Hilarious World of Depression here.

These ASOS Dresses

I know, I know. I said I was going to cool it with fast fashion. And I have! For the most part! But I had a crappy week and I just wanted to treat myself to something adorable, and they were having a 20% off sale on pretty, flouncy dresses! I’m a human woman! After reading The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees (more on that here), I’m leaning hard into “uniforms”, and short dresses are my #1. How cute is that blue dress going to be on Easter?

(left: Fashion Union Frill Front Shift Dress, right: PrettyLittleThing Gingham Frill Bardot Dress)

Juice Mill, Bridgewater, MA

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This one is very local, but all the same it brought me endless joy and vitamins this week. A new juicery opened in the town where I went to college (and hope to go to grad school!) *very Stefon voice* This place has everything—raw juice, smoothies, acai bowls, wheatgrass shots! So nice to have healthy options! I really could have used this place in undergrad, when I was living off of iced coffee and bagels with hummus, but better late than never. I’m hoping that this new addition to the center is an omen that I’ll get accepted into my program!

*A note about the prices: raw juice is not cheap! And once you’ve done it at home and seen the sheer volume of produce required to make a decent amount of it, you see why. Plus, if you’ve ever cleaned out a juicer, it’s like a sticky jigsaw puzzle but less fun. I like to compare juice to wine—when you’re out at a bar, you don’t bat an eye at paying $7-$9 a glass. Think of it like that, an indulgence—similar price, similar calorie situation (I assume), way more health benes.

This Vegan Queso Recipe

To preface this, I take zero credit! This one comes to you from Wilder Wellness, a health coaching group that I joined last month. The recipes that come along with the membership have been incredible, but this one is SO beyond that I keep a jar of it in my fridge at all times.

Vegan Queso adapted from Wilder Wellness/Wildernessa

  • 1 lb of organic carrots (1 bag of baby carrots, or 2 large carrots chopped)
  • 1 medium sweet potato or an equal amount of chopped butternut squash
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of organic salsa
  • 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Steam the sweet potato/squash and carrots until fork-tender. Once cooked, combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Thin to desired consistency with more coconut milk. Serve on everything, from tortilla chips to scrambled eggs! I actually used it as a sauce on red lentil penne last night, because I am a goddamned innovator.

I hope these things brighten your week as much as they have mine!

Cheers,

DellaBites

Kool Things

I wanted to call this post The I’ds of March, but a. that is so stupid, and b. then I couldn’t turn it into a series. Unless it was an annual series? Anyway, I called it Kool Things because that title is at once descriptive and a reference to my favorite Sonic Youth song. Win/win.

Kool Things is a (hopefully) weekly series highlighting dope shit that made my week brighter. We’re kind of in the darkest timeline right now, at least in the U.S., so it’s become super important to find joy where you can.

Anyway, here are the things that made my first-week-of-March:

Cristela Alonzo, Lower Classy

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Cristela, who you might know from her short-lived ABC sitcom of the same name, is a comedy angel, and her new special freaking delivered. The jokes were all brilliantly written and expertly delivered, plus, I actually cried at the end. I was moved to tears by the story she tells about her mother. Get you a stand-up special that can do both!

Cristela nails the first-generation American experience, eviscerates Latinx stereotypes, and roasts Whole Foods for their bonkers prices with aplomb. Her voice is a shining light in the white dude-dominated comedy scene, and I’m so glad that she has the amazing platform of Netflix to tell her story.

Watch Cristela’s newest special, Lower Classy, on Netflix now! 5/5

One Part Plant: The Cookbook!

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I first heard of Jessica Murnane, plant-based guru and cooking genius, on Karsyn DuPree’s Wilder Podcast. I am a self-professed “cooking dork”, so of course I pre-ordered Jessica’s amazing plant-based cookbook. One Part Plant functions as an educational tool as much as it offers recipes: Murnane, who suffers (suffered?) from endometriosis, found an unlikely cure in plant-based eating, and she talks about the disease at length in the book’s intro. And Lena Dunham, who also famously suffers from endo, penned a letter to open the book. Beyond the discussion of endo, the cookbook gives a realistic overview of everything your kitchen needs, from whisks & sieves to tahini & tamari.

Something notable about this cookbook is that is has a full dessert and snack section. I’m not a huge dessert person, but I love that this book is so well-rounded!

Recipe highlights: Creamy Grits with Avocado & Hot Sauce, Roasted Potato, Corn, & Leek Chowder, Grilled Cinnamon & Banana Sandwich (I mean, WHAT?!)

HARP. designs

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What’s better than modern, chic gold & brass jewelry? Women. Entrepreneurs. The rad lady of HARP. designs also happens to by my cousin, Shelly, an amazingly talented Bay Area jewelry designer and maker. She’s a talent angel with an incredible aesthetic. Madewell wishes their accessories were made this well. Since today we’re participating in A Day Without A Woman (right? RIGHT?), ditch your shitty ASOS bling and come thru for HARP.

I recently treated myself to these amazing slogan pins, because when they go low

Eisley, I’m Only Dreaming Tour

My soul-loves, Eisley, just released a new record on February 17th! It’s called I’m Only Dreaming, and it’s the first album released with the band’s new line-up (sans Chauntelle, Weston, & Stacy). I saw them on tour last week at Brighton Music Hall and it was absolutely sensational! It was the first time I’d ever been to a show alone, and I’ve gotta tell you: highly recommend! No one to judge you for scream-singing along to every word!

Get I’m Only Dreaming on Amazon or MerchNow!

Set List (Eisley @ Brighton Music Hall, 2.28.17):

  1. Louder Than A Lion (I’m Only Dreaming)
  2. Smarter (The Valley)
  3. Sad (The Valley)
  4. Millstone (Currents)*
  5. Memories (Room Noises)*
  6. Drink The Water (Currents)*
  7. I Could Be There For You (Combinations)*
  8. Shelter (Currents)*
  9. Song for the Birds (I’m Only Dreaming)
  10. Many Funerals (Combinations)
  11. You Are Mine (I’m Only Dreaming)
  12. Lost At Sea (Room Noises)
  13. Defeatist (I’m Only Dreaming)
  14. I Wasn’t Prepared (Room Noises)
  15. The Night Comes (Currents)
  16. Invasion (Combinations)
  17. I Was Wondering (Combinations)
  18. Ambulance (The Valley)*

*songs with Stacy or Chauntelle originally on lead vox!

American Apparel (RIP)

Is this basic? I’m not sure I care. American Apparel has been at the center of tons of legal & ethical drama over the years, but at its core—American-made, unisex-leaning clothes? Fine by me. They’re bankrupt or going out of business or something, and everything on their site is 40% off. EVERYTHING. AA’s price points were always a deterrent to me, so this added discount piqued my interest.

Pro-tips for shoppers: their size charts are accurate. Measure thyself. Don’t rely on what size you *think* you are, because your acid-wash shorts will function like a whale-bone corset.

The lesson here? Always pester stylish girls you see about where they got their high-waisted jeans. You will be rewarded.

And last but certainly not least…

A Day Without A Woman

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Today’s the day! Organized by the same group that executed the massively successful post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington, A Day Without A Woman is a campaign seeks to illustrate the impact that women (51% of the population, yo) have on daily life and the economy. Today we wear red, avoid paid or unpaid labor, and withhold our money from businesses not owned and operated by women. Most women can’t just peace out of work on a Wednesday (I’m lucky enough to have today off), but there are so many little ways we can all participate in the Resistance! To cop a slogan from Portlandia, Women and Women First!

I hope to see you all out in the streets rocking red!

—DellaBites

*all images via google or the linked sites

My Top 5 Albums of 2016

2016 was another year that SLAYED the music game. I can’t keep up with the amount of good good that blessed us this year.

5. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

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Donald Glover was already one of my favorite people. I was a fan of his comedy and a total nerd about the show Community (#sixseasonsandamovie), so when I discovered, many moons ago, that he rapped under the name Childish Gambino, I feverishly sought out his music. And loved it. His raps are so clever, it’s painful. Yes, I know, he’s rapped some unsavory sexist shit, but you have to appreciate the artistry. And I am NOT an apologist about this sort of thing. But anyway…

It had been a few years since a Childish release, so I was awaiting more rhymes to blow my mind. NOT SO, it turns out. This isn’t a rap album! I guess it’s an R&B album, but in a lot of ways it defies genre. It is a masterpiece, start to finish, as if we expected anything less from Mr. Gambino. Once I get my hands on a hard copy of this album, I’ll have a lot more to say about it critically, but for now, SLAY THE GAME, BAE.

Consider the tracks:

“Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone”

4. Solange – A Seat At The Table

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Before ASATT, Solange hadn’t released new music since her 2012 EP True (which is a 7-song dose of heaven), so this album had to face and overcome a lot of hype. And ohmylordinheaven does it deliver. This album is 100% pure #BlackGirlMagic. Knowles incorporates moving spoken word into nofucksgiven anthems like “Don’t Touch My Hair”—for Solange, the personal is political. Apart from being poignant and brave, the songs themselves comprise 51 minutes of solid songwriting and performances. Solange’s voice is certainly more delicate than that of her very famous sister, but its fragility is made powerful both by the subject matter of the songs and the perfectly tight melodies and arrangements.

Even the title of this incredible album takes a fierce stand. Solange is demanding that black women, arguably one of the most marginalized groups in the world, be granted autonomy over their own bodies and experiences. It is cutting and badass, and we especially need fearless work like this under the fascist regime currently dismantling our government. Solange will save us.

P.S. Every single person on Earth that is cool (André 3000, Questlove, Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip, Lil’ Wayne, Rostam, Kelly Rowland, Miss Tina!) makes an appearance on this album, so don’t sleep!

Consider the tracks:

“Cranes in the Sky” and “Rise”

3. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs

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I nearly had a heart attack when this collaboration was announced. Queen of my existence Neko Case teaming up with two equally rad ladies whose music I adore (k.d. lang & Laura Veirs)? From the first track, “Atomic Number,” to the last note, this album is gripping, emotional, and just fun enough to not leave you in a puddle on the floor contemplating your own lack of talent and drive (oh, is that just me?). Produced by the incredible Tucker Martine (also Laura’s husband—s’cute!), the album balances sparseness with rich string arrangements in a way that never feels heavy-handed.

Each of the songwriters’ voices comes through so clearly, but at no point is any of the women stealing the show. k.d.’s songs are sultry and slower, Laura’s have a pop vivacity to them that sparkles. Neko, it seems, holds the remote control to my emotions. This is as close to a perfect record as it gets, guys. Go forth and listen.

Consider the tracks:

“Best Kept Secret” and “Delirium”

2. David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)

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Look up here, I’m in heaven. Bowie blessed us with this beautiful love note on his 69th birthday, 2 days before his sudden and tragic death from cancer. There is not much I can say about this album that has not already been said beautifully in the past year, but I can express how much I truly love it. It was the man’s 25th album. To put it in perspective, Nirvana made 4. Twenty-five albums—twenty-five expressions of Bowie’s infinite genius. In some ways, it feels like the album is lost to the tragedy, overshadowed by heavy-handed tributes and cover versions. And that Lady Gaga Grammy thing, forchristssake.

There are still a lot of emotions wrapped up in this for me, so here, read what a bunch of brilliant people have said about this opus:

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

Consequence of Sound

Consider the tracks:

“Lazarus” and “Dollar Days”

1. of Montreal – Innocence Reaches

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I know. I put this above David Bowie. There is a special ring in hell reserved for me. But goddamnit if I don’t love of Montreal. Everything Kevin Barnes lays his hands on is pure gold (see Pillar Point’s most recent album). Innocence Reaches was everything I wanted from the new oM. Over the last few years, oM has genre-hopped at a head-spinning pace. 2013’s Lousy with Sylvianbriar was recorded to tape, has a heavily-featured girl singer (the incomparable Rebecca Cash), and is the most rootsy, acoustic thing the band has released. Last year’s Aureate Gloom expanded on that theme, but added a frantic rock energy to it. Innocence Reaches gives the people what they want without compromising Kevin’s penchant for brilliant, provocative lyrics and innovative song structure. It has all the dance energy of 2007’s Hissing Fauna but with delicious trap beats tucked in so tastefully they don’t distract, only enhance. Lyrically, the album gives zero fucks—perfect in a year that saw so much hatred and bigotry from the right. In the land of of Montreal, gender is largely irrelevant and individual expression is celebrated. The opening track “Let’s Relate” contains the lines,

Amalgam, I think that you’re great 

Let’s relate

I already like you

I like that you like you

I think that you’re great

I want to relate

Barnes uses the simplest possible language to convey a sentiment that has been impossible for so many to grasp. Seeing him perform this track wearing a hat that said, on each side of the brim, BOY or GIRL, really drove the point home.The following track, “It’s Different for Girls,” is a male feminist anthem for the ages. Typically, this doesn’t work. Men inserting themselves into this conversation often goes awry. But Barnes handles the topic, presumably inspired by his own fluid understanding of gender and the fact that he now has a teenaged daughter, with such finesse that he actually adds to the conversation without trampling over women’s voices. Lines like, “For every one ‘psycho bitch’ there’s ten thousand aggro pricks” are really, really fun to sing at the top of your lungs.

Basically, Kevin is a goddamned genius.

Consider the tracks: 

“Trashed Exes” and “My Fair Lady”

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This list may change and evolve dramatically—I haven’t even heard all of the 2016 releases that we have, and there are so many more I still have to buy, like my beloved Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper (who crushed the game on SNL recently). I haven’t even listened to the new Bon Iver yet, which is insane since Justin Vernon is basically my sexual orientation.

A few honorable mentions:

Beyoncé – Lemonade

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Because I’m a human woman, and Beyoncé SLAYED ALL DAY with this #flawless album. This isn’t just a “Bey is queen of all things” type of shout out. This album is actually a musical triumph. Everyone who’s anyone had a hand in making this a balls-out amazing album. She and Solange tagged-teamed 2016.

Consider the tracks:

“Don’t Hurt Yourself (feat. Jack White)” and “All Night”

Various Artists – The Hamilton Mixtape

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You already know I love me some Lin-Manuel Miranda. The features on this are insane. I’m only like, ten years younger than him, so our mutual love for Ja Rule/Ashanti duos makes perfect sense. Even if you’re not a musical person, this mixtape is worth it for “Wrote My Way Out”, and “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” alone.

Consider the tracks:

“Say Yes to This” (Jill Scott) and “My Shot” (The Roots, Busta,Joell Ortiz, & Nate Ruess)

 

**I googled these images, y’all. No credit taken.

 

Linkies: Injury Duty

I hurt myself at work today. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. I felt in perfect health. But all of a sudden, as I was reaching up, it felt like my back snapped in half. A doctor’s visit and muscle relaxers later, I’m still down for the count.

I feel betrayed by my body.

Luckily, there are other things going on to distract me from my misery.

Orange is the New Black just came back for its fourth season and gosh, did it deliver. I was skeptical at first with the direction of the narrative, but they came out strong for trans/black/prisoner rights, and I appreciated that s**t. Apart from John Oliver and the occasional Bernie Sanders speech, prison is out of the sight & mind of most Americans, but so many people are unjustly locked up. Prison is not a catch-all solution, and imprisoning someone for a b.s. offense (possession of small quantities of drugs, et al.) effectively ruins his or her life, perpetuating economic inequality and racism.

Will Butler and The Avett Brothers just put out new albums! Will Butler’s Friday Night and the Avett’s True Sadness both dropped in the past two weeks, and as we may or may not know from my incessant opinion-sharing, white men are good for one thing and one thing only: dropping bomb-ass records (hyperbole, but, you get it).

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This. Darn. Avocado. Bag. Betsey Johnson is killing it! I usually find her bags a bit too literal, but avocados are my forever love, and I don’t care how basic that is. It’s available on Modcloth too. I managed to score it for way cheaper before Amazon wised up to the hype.

Tomorrow, I’m going to my fave professor’s house to help her move. Yes, I’m in blinding pain, but I can always cart things back and forth. Going to people’s houses always inspires me to bring my A-game. Homemade chocolate chip donuts? Obviously. Plus, I get to meet her new baby!

July 4th is upon us! Nothing’s set in stone, but fiancé and I might be headed down to the beach to celebrate. I get the dang day off! I have a hella cute Kate Spade bathing suit on hold at work for the occasion. One-pieces forever.

And last but absolutely most, is Hamilton. As in Alexander. Yes, it’s a Broadway smash. Yes, I’m late to the party. But I never could have anticipated how amazing it is. I wept openly during multiple songs. It is my life’s blood. I haven’t listened to non-Hamilton music in five+ days. Why would I? Hamilton is a perfect musical. I lust for the day it will be broadcast on PBS, and I will never, EVER delete it from my DVR.

What inspires you lately?

—DellaBites