Halftime Leisure

Why A Seat at the Table Should Have Been the Best of 2016

December 6, 2016

A Seat at the Table feels like how I think dropping acid and going to a museum would feel like. Of course I’ve never done that before, but one time I looked at some art after pulling an all nighter and started feeling colors so I assume that’s how it would feel. It helped that the two music videos that accompanied “Cranes In The Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair” were the most aesthetically pleasing use of cinematography and choreography that I’ve ever seen. But it’s more than that. It is her voice. Solange reminds me of St. Vincent if she was a little less weird and a little more soulful. In the end, I felt like I didn’t really deserve this album, because it was so good, and because I am relatively ignorant to the music world. The point, though, is that this album is fantastic and if I ever do decide to drop acid, for one, someone stop me and if I go through with it the first thing I’m doing is re-listening to A Seat at the Table.

So why the hell was it not on The Voice’s Best of 2016 list?! I know it didn’t get enough votes, but I couldn’t have been the only one to realize its brilliance. It was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, topping Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, which did make the Best of list. Solange was robbed, if you ask me. But if you still need some convincing, by all means continue reading.

A Seat at the Table reminds me of Channel ORANGE in its ability to make you want to get up and dance while putting you on the verge of depression. Similar to Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids,” Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” hits a profound sadness in the opening, and smoothly, almost unknowingly, transitions into an upbeat, soulful melody. And once you’re halfway through the song, you realize that the sadness and the soulfulness have merged in a way that has never been heard before.

A Seat at the Table is much more positive and energetic than Channel ORANGE, though. That is because while Ocean is singing about the downfalls of society, Solange is addressing them head on. She confronts inequality. She confidently asserts her position and has the audacity to demand what she wants, and deserves. Furthermore, her womanhood gives her a greater depth of experiences to contemplate and speak to. I can’t begin to imagine the hardships she knows and has faced, but by listening to her lyrics, I think I can begin to understand.

Solange is powerful, audacious and out of this universe. She is impossibly cool, incredibly talented, and intricately beautiful. A Seat at the Table and its associated music videos and live performances (you’ve gotta see her SNL appearance) are new to the music world. And I want them to stay. It is music that makes you feel, even though that feeling, to me, is indescribable. No other album on the Best of list had that, and no other album on that list topped this one.

Claire Goldberg
is the Voice's former editoral board chair and halftime leisure editor. She "says a lot of funny things," according to Emma Francois.

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