The Best Beyoncé Songs

From the start of her career to 'Everything Is Love,' we're counting down the best Beyoncé songs of all time.

best beyonce songs
Complex Original

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best beyonce songs

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. 

Beyoncé's is one of those rare careers that's grown richer and stronger with time. As we await B7 and bask in Everything Is Love, which is better than anyone thought it would be, we're taking a look at the best Beyoncé songs.

42. "Party"

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Album: 4 (2011)

Producer: Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker

There is no doubt that "Party" was the summer cookout anthem of 2011. Featuring a guest verses from André 3000, and later, a remix from labelmate J.Cole, "Party" is one of Beyoncé's best "feel good" records to date. The track combines '80s funk and soul music-thanks to production from Kanye West and Jeff Bhasker-while also sampling "La Di Da Di."

The Kanye intro kicks off the sensual beat paired with synth-pop melodies-and of course, that "swagu" lyric. Add it to the list of sexually empowering Bey songs, with some very NSFW metaphors from Andre on his verse, and "Party" is one of her top party anthems. Even when Bey wants to create a slow-jam, she still lets her vocals take the spotlight over any production-even by Kanye. —Heather Haynes

41. "Why Don't You Love Me"

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Album: I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008)

Producer: Beyoncé, Bama Boyz

“Why Don’t You Love Me” appears as a bonus track on Bey’s third album, I Am… Sasha Fierce, and differs drastically from the rest of her repertoire—perhaps due in large to its co-writing credit to sister Solange. There’s something distinctly vintage about the non-single: Bey’s vocal performance is steeped in R&B-pop history, but the production moves with an up-tempo disco-infused drum loop, Bey slowing down the tune with her romantic refrain of “Why don’t you love me?” If it wasn’t so damn fun, it might be heartbreaking, a confusing feeling Beyoncé validates in the final lyric: “Maybe you’re just not the one/Or maybe you’re just plain dumb.” Must be. —Maria Sherman

40. "Naughty Girl"

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Album: Dangerously in Love (2003)

Producer: Beyoncé, Scott Storch

The infectious Scott Storch-produced "Naughty Girl," was a new look for Beyoncé. It was the final single off of her debut album Dangerously in Love, and sampled Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" that left the Gold-certified single sounding distortedly disco.

Beyoncé's lustful, layered vocals became a sultry anthem for sexual confidence and exotic vibes. But it's the heavy breathing and idea of Bey being a "Naughty Girl" that caught fans and critics off guard-an image we'd later greet as Sasha Fierce, Bey's alter-ego was in full force. It's the sexiest disco-oriented song in her catalog, and the video for "Naughty Girl" paired Bey up with Usher with the two channeling classic entertainers Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire. A decade after its release, "Naughty Girl" will still get the club going crazy when it hits. —Lauren Nostro

39. "Baby Boy"

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Album: Dangerously in Love (2003)

Producer: Scott Storch, Beyoncé

In 2002, Sean Paul was riding high off his breakthrough album Dutty Rock and Beyoncé Knowles was still a single lady, although she'd started to go public with her and JAY-Z's relationship on the hit single "Crazy in Love." Much to Jay's chagrin, Beyoncé's duet with Sean Paul was a bigger hit. The Scott Storch-produced dancehall banger, recorded near the end of Beyoncé's Dangerously in Love sessions, topped the charts for nine straight weeks, longer than "Crazy in Love."

In fact, the sexy selection about a woman who fantasizes about her island lover, was Beyoncé's longest-lasting No. 1 single ever until "Irreplaceable" came along and held the top spot for 10 straight weeks. Sean Paul has denied rumors that he and Beyoncé had a brief fling. But that might explain why JAY-Z reportedly cock-blocked Paul from appearing in any scenes with B in the music video, and personally insisted that Sean Paul not perform with her at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Sean sat in the audience while Beyoncé performed the song with his vocals on a backing track. Awkward. —Rob Kenner

38. "Speechless"

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Album: Dangerously in Love (2003)

Producer: Beyoncé, Andreao "Fanatic" Heard, Sherrod Barnes

During a time when we were still used to my-mom-makes-my-costumes Beyoncé, this song about making love (!) was an unexpected glimpse of the sex symbol King Bey would eventually become. Opening with actual bom-chicka-wah-wahs, this 2003 release quickly became a “quiet storm” staple, that section of late-night radio where the rambunctious records of the day give way to the R&B soundtrack know.

Bey breathlessly slithers all over this six-minute slow burn, reaching her apex with wails of “All I can say is yes.” “Speechless,” with its schoolgirl anticipation, was the precursor for 2011’s “Dance For You,” where Bey stops yearning and takes charge. —Driadonna Roland

37. Nicki Minaj f/ Beyoncé "Feeling Myself"

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Album: The Pinkprint (2015)

Producer: Beyoncé, Hit-Boy

In Spring 2014, Beyoncé wanted a “Flawless” remix and she wanted Nicki Minaj to be the feature on it, telling the rapper “I don’t want you to hold back.” On the remix, Minaj, whose quick and shapeshifting flows usually circle on ideas of critical self-swagger, looks outward into competition-free feminism: “If you ain’t on the team, you playin’ for team D / Cause we A-listers, uh we paid sisters.” That energy appears in the duo’s second collaboration for Minaj’s “Feeling Myself”—with lyrics often misinterpreted as self-importance came a song of self-love, both literally (themes of masturbation) and metaphysically.

With the help of Hit-Boy’s ascending theremin-esque beat, the B & M pairing is unstoppable—the pair flexes their confidence without once naming their haters—there’s no time for that. When Beyoncé is done “feelin’ herself” on the hook she comes in with a reference to Lemonade and stop her post-hook with “I stop the world, world stop…Carry on,” altering the very structure of the song. That’s power. —Maria Sherman

36. "Green Light"

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Album: B'Day (2006)

Producer: The Neptunes, Beyoncé

"Give it to mama," commands about a half-dozen multi-tracked Beyoncés in the first seconds of "Green Light," the darker cousin to "Crazy in Love." B'Day is the best Bey album for dancing, and one of her most sexual. The young artist who sang about not rushing into sex on Dangerously in Love's immaculate "Yes"? She's gone now, been body-snatched by the kind of woman who, on "Suga Mama," buys her boy clothes only to tell him he needs to be stepping out of those new pants and drawers double-time quick to come sit on her lap. In mama's lap. That's nasty.

Produced by the Neptunes, "Green Light" stands out for its impatient percussion and bassline, and those horn throbs on the chorus, like "Crazy in Love's" except you feel them lower in the gut. "Uh-huh-uh-uh" goes the background vocal while Beyoncé assures her man that he has the green light. "Go" is the hook's repeated urge. "You gotta wait for me," she sang in 2003, just 22 years old. Not anymore. Now everyone's catching up. —Ross Scarano

35. "End of Time"

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Album: 4 (2011)

Producer: Beyoncé, The-Dream, Switch

One of the most buoyant songs on 4, “End of Time” is fueled by its anthemic, soaring vocals and percussion. With production help from The-Dream, “End of Time” is about everlasting love and devotion. The marching-band background beat powered by Bey’s lyrics seem to make it clear that this track is for her one and only, Jay Z: "Come take my hand/I won’t let you go/I’ll be your friend/I will love you so deeply/I will be the one to kiss you at night/I will love you till the end of time." Real love. —Ilana Kaplan

34. "Dance for You"

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Album: 4: Deluxe Edition (2011)

Producer: Beyoncé, The-Dream, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart

Before Bey pulled out all the stops for Lemonade, she shoed fans that she could always nail the art of the perfect, sultry R&B jam on 4. “Dance for You” is prime Bey, delivering mesmerizing vocals with an air of mystery. But as the title suggests, the song is dedicated to one person in particular: the one you want to give your whole self to. And because it’s Bey, she isn’t too shy about saying it: "Loving you is really all that's on my mind/And I can't help but to think about it day and night." The black-and-white noir video gives the song an even more classic aura. —Ilana Kaplan

33. "1+1"

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Album: (2011)

Producer: The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Beyoncé

This ambitious track could not have been attempted by a mere mortal. The phrasing alone would prove farcical for a vocalist with lesser skills. It requires a pilot with the right balance of control and abandon, as liftoff occurs on the end of every line: “If I ain’t got nothing, I got—you!”

Beyoncé sings urgently of a fierce love that is the only protection in apocalyptic times. It fit perfectly on 4, the first project after a brief hiatus (and the announcement of her impending motherhood) in which she finally peeled back some of the layers of pop diva-dom and revealed the vulnerable woman underneath. —Driadonna Roland

32. “Best Thing I Never Had”

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Album: 4 (2011)

Producer: Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Symbolyc One, Antonio Dixon, Shea Taylor, Caleb McCampbell

Could you imagine being Beyoncé’s ex? This song is for that idiot. But to call “Best Thing I Never Had” a kiss-off would be negligent. It is a testimony, handcrafted by the living legend Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.

Bey’s staccato delivery over sparse piano opens into robust, full-throated vocals atop frenzied strings and a bass heavy enough to stomp a hole in the floor. It's illustrative of the breakthrough taking place; that moment when a woman realizes she’s been idolizing a partner when she was the prize all along. When she sings, “Thank God I found the good in goodbye,” the proper response is, “Amen.” —Driadonna Roland

31. "Check On It"

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Album: The Pink Panther (2006)

Producer: Swizz Beatz

H-Town stand up. Beyoncé and Slim Thug together on one track? You already know that's a problem. And it just so happens that Beyoncé's at her sexiest on this particular cut: "Dip it, pop it, twerk it, stop it, check on me tonight," she coos on the hook. (And you thought Miley was the first girl to take twerkin' mainstream?)

You can bet that JAY-Z was monitoring this recording session closely, especially with Slim spitting game like, "Baby do what you do/And while you dance, I'ma glance at this beautiful view." Originally recorded for the soundtrack to the Pink Panther movie, this Swizz Beatz production ended up getting released the Destiny's Child greatest hits compilation and promptly shot up to the top of the charts, proving once again that good girls gotta get down with the gangstas. —Rob Kenner

30. "All Night"

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Album: Lemonade (2016)

Producer: Beyoncé, Diplo

Where the Lemonade single “Sorry” acts as a sonic kiss-off to infidelity, “All Night” questions it, a track that doesn’t struggle to rebuild trust after an unfaith act, but a sorrowful song that seeks to find if the pain is worth it, if there’s something worth fighting for. Beyoncé’s voice is given a new texture here, often interacting with the horn instrumentation above a surprising sample taken from Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” It’s slow but not entirely somber—there’s a certain soulfulness here that feels deceptively joyful. “All Night” is a transitory track and sometimes the middle is where meaning is found. —Maria Sherman

29. "Hold Up"

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Album: Lemonade (2016)

Producer: Beyoncé, Diplo, Ezra Koenig

Lemonade is as much about anger as it is forgiveness and love. “Hold Up” represents the time after the damage has been done and it’s time to take the baseball bat to something breakable. Riffing off of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bey chants "Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you/Slow down, they don’t love you like I love you," over a dancehall-indebted beat. Ferocious, fearless and sassy, Bey asks, “What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy?” as she floods the streets with her fury in the video. It’s fair to say that that visual is a necessary component of the experience. —Ilana Kaplan

28. "Upgrade U"

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Album: B'Day (2006)

Producer: Swizz Beatz, Cameron Wallace, Beyoncé

Amidst the mélange of MCs rapping about blinging out their boos, and verbally flossing the various ways they can finance their partner's lifestyle, Beyoncé's offer to upgrade a man, particularly a man like Jay Z, who is clearly not struggling, seems a brazen one. This is Beyoncé at her best—delightfully cocky, her place on throne virtually unshakeable. She may not have been calling herself King B at the time, but clearly, she's already ascending to her rightful place.

Sonically, the blaring horns, heavy clapping, and intermittent whistle blows seem to mirror the boldness of her claims. Even on the what's arguably the most hip-hop track on B'Day, Beyoncé is the one keeping the tempo. She holds her own on the Swizz Beatz and Cameron Wallace produced track, singing in a staccato style that mimics Hov's flow.

Ironically, the sample comes from Betty Wright's song from 1968 "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do," which make Bey's claims seem even more important. Indeed, in the late '60s, very few women could utter the words "Trust me, you need me" with the unwavering confidence Beyoncé does. In fact, several years earlier, even Beyoncé herself couldn't. Ideologically, it's a great departure from the materialistic ideals of 1999's "Bills, Bills, Bills," where Beyoncé wonders why her boyfriend wasn't paying her bills and "making [her] pay for things [his] money should be handling?" Here, Beyoncé isn't just generous, she's rattling off a laundry list of designer wares she can offer her already wealthy boyfriend. She's in need of nothing, and has everything to offer. It's as much an assertion of affection for Jay Z, as it is a demand to be seen as an equal. Or, possibly more. After all, in the video we see Bey mouthing Hova's verse and effortlessly imitating his mannerisms. It comes all too naturally.

And, if calling Jay Z, perhaps the most successful rapper alive, her "project celebrity" isn't Beyoncé laying claim to the pants, what is? —Shanté Cosme

27. "Haunted"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Beyoncé, Boots

“Haunted” is a six-minute dark-pop track that functions as two songs in one. A dynamic piece that embodies depth of talent Bey has to offer, the spoken-word segment of the song is known as “Ghost,” while the moody, experimental ballad part is technically “Haunted.” Like much of the album it comes from, “Haunted” is a nostalgic cut: it begins with a sound clip from Beyoncé’s childhood where she wins an award and then segues into the desire for an old lover ("I know if I'm haunting you, you must be haunting me"). Weaving dubstep, pop, and poetry, Bey makes the avant-garde insanely appealing. —Ilana Kaplan

26. "I Care"

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Album: (2011)

Producer: Jeff Bhasker, Beyoncé

It's pretty clear by now that Beyoncé likes her life organized. She knows what she wants, she works hard to get it, and she keeps everything in immaculate order. Perhaps that's why when we hear her emotions-what sound like real emotions-break through her facade on tracks like "I Care" it feels chilling. Sure, Queen Bey delivers every song with verve and poise, but on some of these tracks the personal elements rise to the top.

On some level, it's reassuring to hear someone who has every single aspect of their life under control struggling with the same mundane, impossible struggles that us civilians face in our own emotionally-fraught, imperfect lives. This song addresses the cyclical, infuriating nature of a hot and cold relationship, and if the syncopated handclaps, pounding drums, and laser-like synths don't drive the point home, then B's plaintive, anger-ridden vocals undoubtedly will. The song encapsulates the fear and pain of feeling desperately attached to someone who continually proves themselves untrustworthy. Instead of considering her feelings weakness though, Bey transforms them into a thundering assertion of her own strength.

Listen for her lyric-less vocal modulation around the 2:10 markit's these little flourishes that set Bey apart from other pop stars. Her tightly-reined vocal control helps channel intense feeling with more power than say, a Lady Gaga or a Katy Perry. You hear those high notes she's hitting in the background around the three-minute-mark? That's how Bey lets off steam, the rest of us can just put this on when we feel upset and stick to stress-eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs. —Caitlin White

25. "No Angel"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Beyoncé, Boots, Caroline Polachek

Though it's gospel to see Bey as a perfect goddess, she uses “No Angel” as an opportunity to show that she, like the rest of us, is flawed ("Underneath the pretty face is something complicated/I come with a side of trouble"). With the help of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, Bey makes a minimalist chillwave song, fueled by her breathy falsetto, that leaves you wanting more. It’s a saucy song that shows that a ton of work and a ton of sex ("Tell me, do you want to ride?") is what sustains a great marriage. —Ilana Kaplan

24. The Carters, "Boss"

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Producer: Dernst "D'Mile" Emile II, JAY-Z, Beyoncé

Beyoncé is on her grown-woman shit on "Boss." It's a phase that many of us had been waiting for her to step into since she first stood out as the leader of Destiny's Child. In the two decades (!!!) since then, Bey has been slowly leveling up on her shit-talking, and she's finally arrived at a place where she's comfortable enough to do it on the regular. One of the obvious frontrunners from Bey and JAY-Z's surprise 2018 joint album Everything Is Love, "Boss" is Beyoncé's song. She has the opening and closing verses, and sings the hook, all effortlessly (JAY just so happens to be there, too). In one of the biggest flexes of the century, she says: "My great-great-grandchildren already rich/ That's a lot of brown chil'ren on your Forbes list." I'm only here for stunting Beyoncé from here on out, thank you. —Kiana Fitzgerald

23. "XO"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Ryan Tedder, The-Dream, Beyoncé

In no way would anyone ever request a moment of softness from Beyoncé—on her self-titled record, a fearless and flawless venture into experimental pop territory, Bey didn’t have to search far for bravery. She founded it immediately, confronting all limitations. “XO” stands as part of that growth, but also in opposition to it: it’s impossibly catchy and hooky, as is Beyoncé’s calling card up until this point, and does so lovingly—it’s a heartwarming respite on the album, one that reminds us no one loves as good as the Queen. Perhaps best is the move from her soft speak-sing at the beginning of the song that unravels into a hoarse repetition of “baby love me lights out.” It’s a bedroom voice, an early morning sweetness. —Maria Sherman

22. "Kitty Kat"

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Album: B'Day

Producer: The Neptunes, Beyoncé

Hear me out: "Kitty Kat" might be one of Beyoncé's most underrated cuts. The Pop&B queen didn't select it as a single from her 2006 album B'Day, but it was an undeniable standout. The song is ostensibly about Bey revoking nookie privileges from a partner who's not giving her the attention she needs. God bless The Neptunes, who laced Beyoncé with a deceptively simple beat that doesn't show its true colors until the last 40 seconds. During that time, Beyoncé spits a delicate rap (foreshadowing, anyone?), convincing us she's one of us, and internalizes cultural references, too: "You can call Tyrone/ You ain't gots to lie, Craig." It was a sneak peek at an accessible, humorous Bey that many of us didn't (and still don't) see on the regular. —Kiana Fitzgerald

21. "Don't Hurt Yourself"

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Album: Lemonade (2016)

Producer: Beyoncé, Jack White, Derek Dixie

On “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Beyoncé shows the angst of a woman scorned with a little help from Jack White. The track’s commanding temperament made the internet go wild speculating if this was her request for divorce from JAY-Z. Blending nasty rock with a hell hath no fury attitude, Bey reminds her listeners that she’s no one you ever want to mess with (or cheat on), declaring, "Who the fuck do you think I is? You ain't married to no average bitch, boy/You can watch my fat ass twist, boy, as I bounce to the next dick, boy." Bey proves she can dominate any genre as she passionately gives her perspective ("We just got to let it be") over a scorching set of guitar riffs. Who would have guessed that White and Bey would make such a dynamic duo? —Ilana Kaplan

20. "Drunk In Love" f/ JAY-Z

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Detail, Beyoncé

Lust is typically defined by infatuation. It’s an intoxicating intimacy, a basic biological urge. For Beyoncé, that carnal desire breeds into something much more romantic—it’s felt on the molecular level. The production on “Drunk In Love” moves with an almost sinister sexuality: it’s briefly soft (the sample of Roma folk singer Mónika Juhász Miczura‘s “Bajba, Bajba Pelem,” for example) but it mostly skitters—Bey dominates the relationship, even with hubby JAY-Z’s verse, which only seems to confirm her strength. At its most simplistic, Beyoncé wrote the most popular song about drunk kitchen sex in history, and that in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. —Maria Sherman

19. "Ring the Alarm"

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Album: B'Day (2006)

Producer: Swizz Beatz, Beyoncé

Queen Bey was audibly mad as hell on this frantic, fire-alarm-ridden track that departed from the sweet and sassy songs on B'Day. Maybe she found a stray hair that didn't match her golden blonde mane or a spare Dereon sandal on the yacht that wasn't hers. The world may never know. She did a good job of playing the disgruntled girlfriend instead of the typically lovey dovey side that we were used to seeing.

Her screaming "But I'll be damned if I see another chick on your arm" hook voiced the thoughts of broken-hearted divas everywhere. Although she seemed to be a bit more concerned with the cars, clothes, and mansions that the side chick would get, she made her point. In true Beyoncé form, she still managed to provide a hard-hitting beat perfect for heartfelt choreography in the club or in the car. Who would ever call it quits with the hottest chick in the game anyway? —Imani Mixon

18. "Partition"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Timbaland, Jerome Harmon, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Dwane Weir, Mike Dean, Boots

Beyoncé introduced a new alter-ego on "Yonce," the opener to the epic sex jam “Partition," perhaps the most talked about song on the self-titled album, not only for its sonic complexity, but its racy lyrics. It’s impossible to forget “He Monica Lewisnky’d all over my gown” and “Driver, roll up the partition please, I don’t need you to see Beyoncé on her knees." —Ilana Kaplan

17. "Dangerously in Love"

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Album: Dangerously in Love (2003)

Producer: Beyoncé, Errol "Poppi" McCalla Jr.

There was once a time when I was a Beyoncé hater. Not that I actually hated her, but her particular increasing popularity during the Destiny's Child days made it just too typical that I—a half black girl from Harlem—would be rooting for her. Her roles in Carmen: A Hip Hopera and Austin Powers in Goldmember made it even easier to write her off as just another pop cliche. Dismissing Beyoncé even made me feel smarter than the rest of the girls.

When her first solo album dropped, I paid it no mind. That was until I stood on the second floor of the Macy's in Herald Square. Crowded by Nautica sweaters and sweatpants, I began to get frustrated about shopping for a boyfriend that was nowhere to be found. Then this song came on. It started slow and almost dreary, but that repetition of "I love you," as basic as it sounds, was a whole new level of soulful. I could hear, from her gut, the scary but exciting anguish she was feeling as she realized she was in love. It wasn't just how familiar the lyrics were to what was going on in my life, it was her haunting voice in "Dangerously in Love" that made me cry like a baby in the middle of this crowded store.

Beyoncé's emotional and raw delivery on "Dangerously in Love," makes it one of her best songs ever because it makes her a real person, and therefore a real artist. And yes, I say that as a Beyoncé stan, but to say the opposite is just hate. —Shannon Marcec

16. "Mine"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Sidney "Omen" Brown, Majid Jordan, Beyoncé, KeY Wane, Noah “40” Shebib

“Mine” might not be the best known track on Bey’s self-titled 2013 visual album, but it holds an important place in the massive pop work as its most complicated ballad. With some help from Drake producer Noah “40” Shebib and Drizzy himself, it’s a song that finds self-assurance in doubt: Bey alludes to postpartum depression in the line, “I’m not feeling like myself since the baby,” later finding hope in romantic forever: “All that I can think of is, we should get married,” and in the D & B harmonization of “I just wanna say, you’re mine, you’re mine.” Love and commitment are complicated, and in “Mine,” Beyoncé offers intimate nuance. —Maria Sherman

15. "Get Me Bodied"

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Album: B'Day (2006)​

Producer: Swizz Beatz, Sean Garrett, Beyoncé

If you want proof that Beyoncé can kill any and every dance song of the last decade, we present you "Get Me Bodied." There's no way you don't start dancing or slow-winding when "Get Me Bodied" comes on. And thankfully, she gives you tons of new dance moves:

1. Drop down low and sweep the floor with it

2. Do the "uh oh"

3. Pt your weave, and watch him while he check up on it

4. Tick fight

5. Pose for the camera

6. Do an old school dance

7. Stop, cool off

8. Wind it back, duck your head, touch the floor

9. Drop to your knees, hunch your back

10. Shake that alley cat

11. Shake that derriere while wearing Dereon's

12. Do the scissor leg

13. Do the Naomi Campbell walk

14. Snap for the kids


Influenced by New Orleans Bounce music and DJ Jubilee, Beyoncé collaborated with Swizz Beats and Sean Garrett to produce a hit song that continues to have every female in the mirror practicing their Naomi Campbell walk. —Heather Haynes

14. "Sorry"

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Album: Lemonade (2016)

Producer: Wynter Gordon, Beyoncé, Melo-X

Only Beyoncé could pen a breakup song and produce an earth-shaking ripple effect, the kind that inspires public discourse both in its personal mystery (Is divorce on the horizon for Queen B? Did hubby Jay Z act unfaithfully with an infamous-yet-anonymous ‘Becky with the good hair?’) and in its structure, an asymmetrical genre-defying, politically-defiant anthem. It’s a radical, crucial move for a woman to refute expectation, to refuse to apologize when they aren’t in the wrong but have been wronged—Bey immortalized the protest in “Sorry.” She spends the entire hook repeating with almost militaristic cadence, “Sorry, I ain’t sorry,” reminding all its listeners that there’s no reason to play victim. The best revenge, here, is a middle finger in the air. —Maria Sherman

13. "7/11"

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Album: Beyoncé: Platinum Edition (2014)

Producer: Beyoncé, Bobby Johnson, Detail, Sidney Swift, Derek Dixie

“7/11” is weird. The back-half of the extended version of “Get Me Bodied” is perhaps precedent, in that “7/11” consists of Bey offering instruction for a bunch of activities you can do with various parts of your body. “Legs moving side to side, smack it in the air/Shoulders moving side to side, smack it in the air.” The video brings it together (by visualizing each action), but even independent of Beyoncé and her friends having maximum fun in a bathroom, the song works. It’s a nasty bit of trunk-rattling Texas music that demonstrates a flexibility of sound and a willingness to experiment that’s a hallmark of post-self-titled Beyoncé. —Ross Scarano

12. "Love On Top"

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Album: 4 (2011)​

Producer: Beyoncé, Shea Taylor

There's an exuberance to "Love on Top" that only continues to escalate with each key change. Just how many key changes are there in this slow-burning, brass-heavy update on a soul classic? Four. There's four key changes. This is Beyoncé at her most Whitney, or more fittingly, her most Etta, as playing jazz legend Etta James in the 2008 biopic Cadillac Records is what inspired the song. Seriously, name another song that's made it to the Billboard charts in recent years that contains even one key change, let alone four?

"Love on Top" won Bey a Grammy for the semi-bullshit category "Best Traditional R&B Performance," yet the historical bones of this song are what separates it from her plethora of radio-friendly gems. After years of perfecting pop, mainstream hits, Beyoncé set out to make a cohesive, classic album that could stand on its own—she self-proclaimed that as her goal for 4 in last year's self-directed documentary, Beyoncé: Life Is but a Dream. And as the first track on the album, this song sets the bar.

While many Beyoncé songs, and popular love songs in general, focus on the terrifying, hurtful past, an electric bedroom encounter, or the hope of a loved-up future, "Love on Top" dwells in the moment, glorying in simple pleasure of finding someone who does the impossibleputs a lady first. Reflections on a cohesive, healthy relationship are not a common narrative in pop music-nor are they common among celebrity marriagebut by this time we know that Bey's muse in her love songs is her longtime musical and marital partner, Jay Z. The reality of their loving, normal relationship is hard for some people to believe in, but there's a reason Beyoncé chose this track for pregnancy-announcing performance at the 2011 VMAs. What better way to celebrate starting a family than a '80s-infused bright throwback that celebrates stability, intimacy, and monogamy? She brought life into the world and she's got at least four octaves covered. If that isn't being on top, what is? —Caitlin White

11. The Carters, "Apeshit"

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Producer: Pharrell Williams, JAY-Z, Beyoncé

Braggadocious Bey is the best Bey, like on “Apeshit,” where she takes the time to remind us who the fuck we’re dealing with—as if we could ever forget. On first listen, it seems strange that Everything Is Love doesn’t open with the standout track, but its impact is actually felt more deeply as a 180-degree-turn follow up to the sweetness of “Summer.” The queen glides effortlessly from woke (“Or pay me in equity/ Watch me reverse out of debt”) to ignorant (“He wanna give me that vitamin D!”) and back again (“All of my people, I free 'em all”) over futuristic Pharrell production. She goes just as hard as JAY-Z, and sounds like she’s having the time of her life doing it. For the record, Beyoncé is the only person who’s allowed to call me a hoe.  —Carolyn Bernucca

10. "Countdown"

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Album: 4 (2011)​

Producer: Cainon Lamb, Beyoncé, Shea Taylor

"Countdown" is such a simple concept—an entirely realistic story about a decade of monogamy and loyalty to a man, the true story of Beyoncé and JAY-Z. In the song, Bey channels '70s production with '90s samples from Boyz II Men's "Uhh Ahhh," which was the inspiration behind the initial concept of a countdown. The vivacious snare drums paired with Beyoncé's sassy vocals that span octaves in the song created a standout song about one of the most loyal relationships.

Lyrically, Bey keeps it simple with lines like, "Still love the way he talks/Still love the way I sing/Still love the way he rock them black diamonds in that chain." If it doesn't automatically make you want a love like Jay and Bey, then you're not doing it right. It's such a triumphant claim of love that everything from the backup singing to the horns and orchestral drums that it's hard to listen to the song or even watch the video to "Countdown" without feeling overwhelmingly happy and wanting to be in love, too. —Lauren Nostro

9. "Halo"

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Album: I Am...Sasha Fierce (2008)​

Producer: Ryan Tedder, Beyoncé

When "Halo" begins, the synths kick off and immediately the song sounds heavenly. If it weren't for the fact it's named "Halo," you'd still feel the emotions in this overwhelmingly beautiful song even before the piano chords start. But when they do, we're seeing Beyoncé at the top of her game. Bey's ability to craft love ballads is hard to replicatewe already know she's got one of the best vocal ranges in the industry, but beyond that, she's ability to float over very minimal production and hold the melodies all on her own. Even on the first verse, Bey's vocals drop octaves on one word-"sound"—and it's a gut wrenching display of emotions for her lover.

What's beautiful about "Halo" is that if you take away any instrumentation or production it still sounds equally as stunning. The story behind "Halo" is that One Republic's lead singer Ryan Tedd wrote the song in three hours along with Evan "Kidd Bogart" and Beyoncé, to dedicate to her and JAY-Z. Tedder's angelic chords would lead to the name, "Halo," but the track itself was inspired by Ray LaMontagne and his acoustic love ballad "Shelter." While songs like "Single Ladies" and "Love on Top" were showcases of Bey's pop-strengths and ability to craft the perfect chart-topping hit, there's always just the underlying appreciation for just her vocals-with or without production. See for yourself. Lauren Nostro

8. "Irreplaceable"

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Album: B'Day (2006)​

Producer: Stargate, Beyoncé, Shaffer Smith

Although the peasant-styled crop-top that Beyoncé sports on the cover of B-Day is long past its expiration date, "Irreplaceable" remains one of those songs that feels eternally en vogue. It's a shame that a song about a woman being mistreated, lied to, and cheated on feels evergreen, but Beyoncé departs from the standard by empowering her jilted character with an independent charisma that's impeccably cold and confident.

While the lived experience of a woman in society almost without fail guarantees at least one major betrayal, one gut-wrenching break-up, the prescribed cultural script for these experiences is decidedly trite. The instruction book requires that there'll be lots of crying, some screaming and yelling, some helpless girl time, dissecting the self and relationship with other women, working out, new mate avoidance, and finally, after a lot of time, our heroine will emerge healed and remarkably, work up the courage to try again! Occasionally, a few weird revenge-skewed reactions enter the cultural break-up canon, but those are mostly in the context of "country" or uncouth, uncivilized society. (An interesting note about the track is that it was originally conceived of as a country song, a fact that points further to the parallels between R&B/hip-hop and country, but that's another story entirely). "Irreplaceable" flips this narrative with an emphasis on speed, offering lines like, "I won't shed a tear for you/I won't lose a wink of sleep"—anything but standard fare for female anthems about cheating boyfriends.

Our culture teaches women that being mistreated by men costs them time, energy, and happiness, that full recovery hinges on their acceptance by another man, albeit a better, more trustworthy one. While Bey does immediately adopt a new partner in the track, she does so with a carelessness that speaks volumes—desirable, available options are already at her fingertips. There's no moving out, there's no loss of privilege on her part, there's no tears. She doesn't contemplate taking him back, she doesn't mindfuck herself by assuming that his cheating might be her fault, or stem from a larger problem that she's responsible for. Instead, Beyoncé revokes his privileges, reduces his status. All she's lost is one possible iteration of love in a world of limitless options. No wonder this song went No. 1 internationally. Tell the "Beyoncé's not a feminist" haters to move the left. —Caitlin White

7. "Crazy In Love" f/ JAY-Z

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Album: Dangerously In Love (2003)​

Producer: Rich Harrison, Beyoncé

Blaring horns, brass blasting you in the face, like a Queen being announced to the world with a fanfare. But those horns—sampled from The Chi-Lites' 1970 track "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)"weren't necessarily announcing Queen Bey so much as her relationship with her mans, ad-libbing over the opening of the track, a guy who just happens to be the most dominant rapper of that decade, JAY-Z (who would rap later that year about "the hottest chick in the game rockin' my chain" on one of his now-classic records).

The message of "Crazy in Love,"starting with JAY-Z's ad-libs, and then the way Beyoncé's snappy vocal step-up ("uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh no no") welcomes you into the trackis pretty clear: The most unfuckwithable power couple in pop culture has arrived, and nothing will stop them, especially when paired together.

Piled on top of that are clanging hi-hats working on a samba-style beat, all working in sync to build out the kind of pop song (and vocal performance) that sounds like it could go on forever. And make no mistake, Beyoncé's performance in this song is wonderful, but the song itself is what counts: Two perfect performers, riffing off each other perfectly, on a perfectly composed song. As far as pop music and the art of the Summer hit at the beginning of the 21st Century is concerned, it didn'tand arguably, still doesn'tget much better than this. —Foster Kamer

6. "***Flawless"

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Album: Beyoncé (2013)

Producer: Hazebanga, Hit-Boy, Beyoncé

There are few songs of the last decade to inspire the kind of cultural resonance of Beyoncé’s “Flawless.” From her days as an Independent Woman in Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has been synonymous with feminism—in “Flawless” she points it out by name through a spoken word intro penned by Nigeria novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” At no point does the definition feel like functionless appendage: it works with the song, giving credence to the club banger—a staccato, trap beat with a moral lesson. Beyoncé “woke up like this,” and we’d all be wise to aspire to her footsteps. —Maria Sherman

5. "Me, Myself, and I"

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Album: Dangerously In Love (2003)​

Producer: Scott Storch, Beyoncé

Word to JAY-Z for having Ms. Say My Name so open in '03 that the first empowerment anthem on Dangerously in Love is buried six tracks deep. After the jubilant elation of "Crazy in Love" and its ilk, Beyoncé gets to bemoaning on "Me, Myself, and I" in that way where you want to dip your eyes to the ground, place one hand in the air, and testify about the strength of women. Bear witness: She sings of a mantrifling, obviouslywho has made her see that she's her own best friend. It's the timeless lesson that loving yourself is the greatest love of all. Yes, we're entering Whitney Houston territory, and Beyoncé has the vocals to make that trek not ludicrous.

Unlike Houston on "Greatest Love of All," Bey's vocals match the cool of Scott Storch's guitar-grounded production. This beat is so chilly as to suit a pimp, and her vocals are utter confidence. After all, the bad relationship is over and she can chew this good-for-nothing out, tell him to come pick up his clothes in a level tone. The biggest flourish comes during the bridge, where a shower of vocalizations blend perfectly. Listen in headphones and take note of the audio channels; her voices moves from the right ear to the left and back again. You're gonna miss this when it's gone. —Ross Scarano

4. Destiny's Child "Say My Name"

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Album: The Writing's On The Wall (1999)​

Producer: Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins

Imagine the look on former Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson's faces when they first saw the color coordinated video for "Say My Name" video and realized, "Wait a minute, I don't recall dancing in an all-orange room but I definitely remember singing about a girl who suspects her man is cheating because he won't say her name. Did I just get kicked out my group?"

"Say My Name" was one of DC's biggest hits and (it shot to No. 1) but by the time the video came out, Luckett and Roberson had fallen out with Beyoncé's father-manager, Mathew Knowles, who secretly hired replacements Michelle Williams (who would become a permanent member) and Farrah Franklin (who would shortly end up like Roberson and Luckett). All the turnover would later surface on their 2001 hit, "Survivor."

Internal drama aside, the song was the first time working with stalwart R&B producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins-though, this also came with its own drama of Beyoncé not liking his original track. Darkchild's second draft lived up to the standard but it was Beyoncé's singing that made this song what it is. Her Bone Thugs-esque delivery on the hook and silky stop-and-go flow on the verses set the gold standard for the hip-hop infused R&B of the 2000s. —Insanul Ahmed

3. "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"

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Album: I Am...Sasha Fierce (2008)​

Producer: Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Beyoncé

That curlicue synth, those handclaps, and ceaseless hard knocks of bass-when "Single Ladies" comes on, there's no mistaking it. You know damn well to put your drink down and report to the dance floor. Or, if you're in a relationship, take an immediate knee and propose, even if you've got to promise that a ring is coming just as soon as you can get one of those metal and paper bag ties from the nearest bodega.

Beyoncé's signature song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," is all urgency and attitude. Her voice struts across the shuttering, mechanical beat from The-Dream and Tricky Stewart. Inspired by the hush-hush marriage between Beyoncé and Jay Z, The-Dream conceived of a song about an ultimatum between a couple-but not a desperate one. "If you like then you shoulda put a ring on it"—the simple internal rhyme makes the chorus somehow—she sings, already walking away from the chump too playerific to pull the trigger. Of course Jay Z did. And how could he not? Beyoncé is the Queen of Pop. She crowned herself the night of Super Bowl XLVII.

When she performed "Single Ladies" at the Superdome, she let her voice dig into its lower register. She sounded brassy and bold. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined her on the first verse, each member of Destiny's Child taking a few lines. It's an anthem meant to be sung among women friends. But no one's voice was louder than Beyoncé's. We can't get on her level. No one can. People make a fuss about her distance from all of us puny humans, but really, where else could she be but in the stars? Infinity and beyond, like the song says. Only the best get to go there, and she's the best. —Ross Scarano

2. "Formation"

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Album: Lemonade (2016)

Producer: Beyoncé, Mike Will Made-It, A+ 

Backed by a left-field Mike Will beat and some perfect catch-phrases from Swae Lee, “Formation” served as the necessary and bold first taste of the compelling storytelling on Lemonade. It was a trap-rap track that not only paid homage to Beyonce’s Creole roots, but served as a much-needed pop declaration of black womanhood. But of course Bey kept it playful, shouting out Red Lobster and mentioning the hot sauce in her bag. It spawned a million memes and stopped the world—something Bey can't help but do. —Ilana Kaplan

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