In February 2013, Beyoncé's Life Is But a Dream documentary aired on HBO. It was one of the first times in her career that Beyoncé let her guard down—albeit briefly and entirely on her own terms—to show the world what a day in the life of the Queen was like. It was a moment, and one she eclipsed with two masterpiece albums—Beyoncé and Lemonade—that peeled back the padding of her public persona like nothing before. She stopped the world.
We first got to know Bey in the late '90s. In 1997, her group Destiny's Child released their major label debut song, "Killing Time." That song wasn't a huge smash, but Destiny's Child would go on to create hit after hit in the late '90s and early 2000s to become one of the most successful female groups ever. They parted ways in 2001 to pursue solo careers (they reunited in 2004 for their final album, Destiny Fulfilled) and that's when we really saw what Bey could do.
Beyoncé has had one of most successful solo careers ever. Her first solo effort, Dangerously In Love, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and produced four top five singles. From there, the hits kept coming: “Irreplaceable,” off of B’Day, her second album, went double platinum and ranks as one of the best-selling singles of the aughts. “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” released two years later as one of the two lead singles from I Am...Sasha Fierce, did even better, going four times platinum. When Lemonade was released in 2016, every track charted in the Billboard Hot 100—all 12 of them.
And Beyoncé's is one of those rare careers that's grown richer and stronger with time. Her most recent work is her most essential. With Lemonade turning one this year, we're looking at the best Beyoncé songs.