With due respect to Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, there was never really any doubt about which member of Destiny’s Child would become the biggest star when the group disbanded. In case there was, Beyonce has spent the past two decades setting the record straight. Since the early 2000s, she’s become ever more famous, ever more powerful, and ever more deserving of her status as one of the greatest performers of all time. Without further ado, here’s our pick of the 10 best Beyonce songs of all time.
10. Dangerously in Love 2
Beyonce first recorded Dangerously in Love with Destiny’s Child on the album Survivor. In 2003, she made a few minor adjustments, slapped a “2” on the end of the title, and released it as the titular track to her debut album. As The Ringer notes, the result was a powerhouse ballad that established her as the solo star she was always going to be. Even though it wasn’t released as a single, it still managed to hit No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It also managed to scoop the singer a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards.
9. Drunk In Love
In 2003, Beyonce was crazy in love. A decade later, she was drunk in it. It started as a beat written by producer and singer Noel Fisher (aka Detail) titled Drunk. Beyonce and Jay-Z added some freestyle lyrics on top, crafted a black and white video designed to pay homage to legendary fashion photographer Herb Ritts, laid down some incredibly sensual vocals, and in the process, created a No. 2 chart hit that would earn Beyonce two more Grammy awards to add to her collection.
8. Run the World (Girls)
If there was ever any question about who ran the world, Beyonce’s 2011 single Run the World (Girls) left no room for doubt. A feminist anthem for the millennium, it combined electropop and R&B to create a stirring, roof-raising statement of female empowerment. Apparently, not everyone wanted to be empowered, at least by Beyonce, and the track charted at a relatively disappointing No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even so, the assertive vocals and inspired musical direction are hard to fault.
If you’re not sure what a diva is, just ask Beyonce. “Na, na, na, diva is a female version of a hustler / Of a hustler / Of a, of a hustler.” Hear it once, and it’ll be forever ingrained on your brain. Some people dismissed it as a blatant rip-off of Lil Wayne’s A Milli. Beyonce herself conceded that it’s the female equivalent, even if it wasn’t done consciously. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. It’s got enough attitude to work, regardless of the inspiration. Released in January 2009, it peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the US Hot Dance Club Play.
As Parade notes, Formation served as the world’s introduction to Lemonade, as well as one of the first times we really sat up and started paying attention to Beyonce’s political side. It doesn’t preach and there are enough playful elements to keep things light (not least her announcement that she keeps hot sauce in her bag), but the accompanying video, which shows a black child dancing in front of a police battalion and Beyonce performing on top of a police car as it sinks into the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, ultimately led to the song being adopted as an anthem by the Black Lives Matter movement and the Women’s March. So huge has its impact been, it’s even been studied at colleges and universities.
5. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
You can’t talk about Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) without referencing the insanely good music video that accompanied it. But even leaving aside the promo, it’s still a fabulous song, with an incredibly infectious hook and the kind of chorus that’s almost impossible not to sing along to. Released in May 2008 shortly after Beyonce’s hush-hush marriage to Jay-Z, it was conceived as the only public statement Beyonce made about her marriage. It reached No. 1 on the pop, R&B, and dance charts, earned three Grammy Awards (including song of the year), and continues to be one of her most enduringly popular songs to this day.
As Rolling Stone writes, Beyonce has always been a strong balladeer, but Halo might well be her finest offering to date. Co-penned by One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, it features one of her most angelic vocals ever – combined with the lilting piano, the overall effect is heavenly. It may have drawn a certain amount of criticism for its similarity to Kelly Clarkson’s hit Already Gone, but that aside, it’s still a spectacular song. After peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, it went on to earn Beyonce a Grammy Award for best female pop vocal performance.
As liveabout.com notes, Ne-Yo originally conceived Irreplaceable as a country song. When Beyonce got her hands on it, she turned it into the ultimate R&B-laced kiss-off song. Released in October 2006 as the second single from her second studio album, B’Day, it soared straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
2. Crazy in Love
Kicking off with one of the most instantly recognizable openings to any song ever, Crazy in Love declared the triumphant arrival of Queen Bey. If there was ever any doubt that Beyonce would thrive as a solo artist after the end of Destiny’s Child, this was the song that ended the speculation. Since its release in 2003, it’s gone on to win two Grammy awards and become one of the best-selling songs of all time.
1. Love on Top
Love on Top showcases the very best of Beyonce’s versatility. There’s a smattering of Motown, some Janet Jackson-inspired R&B, and even a few gospel runs for good measure. It all comes together to create a delicious slice of throwback pop that highlights exactly what makes Beyonce such a formidable force. Released in 2011, it stayed at number one on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for seven consecutive weeks and claimed a very deserved Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance.