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The 70 Greatest Beyoncé Songs

From hits that owned the radio to empowerment anthems that stopped the world, and much more

Best Beyoncé songs


For at least the past decade, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter has been the world’s greatest living entertainer. Who else can annihilate complex dance routines and maintain pristinely powerhouse vocals for packed stadiums the way she does? Who else can so thoroughly dominate news cycles with impeccable and innovative surprise albums? Who else has produced music films and video anthologies as compelling and imaginative? Her combination of showmanship, skill, creative vision, and influence is unmatched by her contemporary peers. 

And, of course, the foundation of Beyoncé’s incredible oeuvre is the music, and her uncanny ability to write, produce, curate, and perform it. Her songs are pop masterpieces, gorgeous and diverse, with several becoming cultural touchstones, from the unmistakable shimmy of “Crazy in Love” to the wiggling hand of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” To honor her historic run, we’ve compiled and ranked 70 of Beyoncé’s greatest tracks as a solo artist – including a few prominent features.

The list was originally published in 2022 to celebrate the release of Renaissance. We’ve updated it for the arrival of Cowboy Carter. Her vision keeps expanding, her history only gets richer and deeper. Bow down. 

From Rolling Stone US


‘Baby Boy’ feat. Sean Paul (2003)

For the follow-up to her breakthrough “Crazy in Love,” Beyoncé enlisted the hitmaker Sean Paul, who flew to Miami to record his vocals after Beyoncé sent him a demo track of the song’s reggae-raga rhythm. Knowles, Jay-Z, and Paul all received writing credits on the song, which interpolated “Here Comes the Hot Stepper,” by Jamaican reggae singer Ini Kamoze, and became Beyoncé’s second Number One. “It was a great experience to meet her, but I was very surprised she picked me,” Paul said later that year. “It shows dancehall music’s getting bigger.” —J.B.


‘Mine’ (2013)

On her alt-R&B track “Mine,” Beyoncé casts doubt over her marriage and explores her painful journey to motherhood. The lyrical honesty here is rare for a pre-Lemonade Bey song, foreshadowing the confessional ballads to come three years later. A meeting of two of the biggest Black artists of the time, “Mine” featured Drake, and brought in production heavy-hitters Noah “40” Shebib and Majid Jordan to push the boundaries of R&B. —E.E.


‘I Care (Homecoming Live)’ (2019)

The rendition of “I Care” performed during 2018’s “Beychella” shows the Queen at her most stripped-down — and arguably her best. Reminiscent of her 2015 Grammy tribute to Stevie Wonder with Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, and Gary Clark Jr., this live performance showcases vocal runs only she could pull off while working harmoniously with other musicians to make onstage magic. Just as important as her vocals is the track’s placement in the set, after the Lemonade track “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Introduced with a string quartet and a transitional monologue from Malcolm X, Bey flawlessly blends the angst of that Jack White collab into the emotional depth of her fan-favorite power ballad. In tandem, the two-track run signals that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. —E.E. 


‘Upgrade U’ (2006)

Here, Beyoncé and Jay-Z explore the idea of a power couple as they trade rhymes about a life of luxury and the perks of being with each other. They name-drop Cartier and Jacob the Jeweler over a Swizz Beatz-produced track that samples a 1969 song by soul singer Betty Wright. “I see your hustle with my hustle, I can keep you,” Bey offers. What shines brightest is their hard-hitting chemistry, with the duo offering a palpable sense of how they complement one another in real life. —R.M.


‘Hold Up’ (2016)

Only Bey could sample Andy Williams and interpolate Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Soulja Boy in a single song about jealousy and infidelity, while asking Father John Misty — who recently wrote an entire album about a happy marriage — to lend a hand with lyrics. (Misty would later recall his shock over his contribution making the cut: “I went crazy.”) “Hold Up” is just the second track off Lemonade, so Bey is only getting started on her rage. In the video, she takes a bat and smashes windows and fire hydrants in a stunning mustard-colored gown — savage and graceful all at once. —A.M.


‘Jolene’ (2024)

With Dolly Parton’s enthusiastic blessing, Beyoncé flipped one of the country star’s most iconic songs. Hare, she’s not begging “Jolene” not to leave her man alone, she’s warning the “bird” not to even try him – or her. Of course, every time Beyoncé sings the titular woman’s name with her own spin on Parton’s signature drama, her darker, heavier take reverberates – she’s turned the song into a new jungle gym for her vocal acrobatics. Yet, it’s her brand new story that resonates most, detailed and theatrically reminiscent of the real infidelity and reunification that colored her then-opus, Lemonade. “Me and my man crossed those valleys,” she sings with pride and certainty. “I sleep good – happy – ’cause you can’t dig up our planted seeds.”–M.C.


‘Halo’ (2009)

Today, Beyoncé’s status as one of the world’s best balladeers is unquestionable, and this is in part thanks to “Halo.” The ballad, co-written by Ryan Tedder, sees Beyoncé exploring an almost wistful type of fondness she has for her lover while showing off significant vocal power — and, just as important, vocal restraint with melismatic runs that bring to mind Whitney Houston. All of these come together with the song’s icy synth and cascading piano notes to create one of the more intense and timeless power ballads of the 2000s and further establish Beyoncé’s position as a vocal powerhouse. —D.V.


‘Kitty Kat’ (2006)

“Kitty Kat” is more than a flirtatious warning to a lover, it’s also a preamble to versions of Beyoncé that reveal themselves over her next several albums. Bey’s hyper-feminine alter ego is situated in the music video directed by Melina Matsoukas, and within lyrics where she alludes to her “sweet little nookie,” a side of the singer exposed on her self-titled project, and that iconic bridge signaled the official start of her rap-singing résumé. The Neptunes-produced track sets itself in the early 2000s with the duos’ signature four-count start, and it, like that four-count, has come to transcend time. —E.E.


‘Run the World (Girls)’ (2011)

With a military drumbeat, “Run the World (Girls)” is a little bit punk — driven by its intensity and jagged structure. At its center is a rallying cry for female empowerment, but the song really showcases the breadth of Bey’s talent. Plus, it’s brimming with delicious hooks that make the song a dance-floor banger. While the messaging might not have been too deep ​​(“Girls!/We run this mutha/Girls!/Who run the world”), it’s impossible to deny how Bey’s boundary-pushing sonic exploration on this song has carried influence in her work over the years. —I.K.


‘Ya Ya’ (2024)

“Ya Ya” is a sonically adventurous and combustible peak of Cowboy Carter, applying the anything-goes spirit of late-Eighties hip-hop to her wide-open idea of American music. Over a stompin’, clappin’, snappin’ beat and a Nancy Sinatra sample, she evokes Tina Turner’s rock-soul sass, James Brown’s Black-and-proud testifying, garage-rock guitar scuzz, and, most directly, the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” Her lyrics place her own family’s struggles against a backdrop of American economic, racial, and social hypocrisy, and wrap her anti-erasure gospel in a music that radiates freedom, resistance, and joy.–J.D.


‘XO’ (2013)

Sonically, “XO” is one of Beyoncé’s most gorgeous songs, all lush longing and stadium-size romance. But there’s more than meets the ear at first: The lyrics keep referencing an always-encroaching darkness, and “XO” kicks off by sampling a radio transmission from the 1986 Challenger space-shuttle disaster. That latter move, presumably meant to underscore the theme of love that can vanish at any moment, led to protests and charges of insensitivity from the widow of a Challenger astronaut and others. Beyoncé — no stranger to space imagery, as one writer pointed out — explained in a statement: “The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you.” —C.H.


‘Cuff It’ (2022)

In just under four minutes, Beyoncé unfurls a welter of inspirations on “Cuff It.” On the surface, it’s a disco-inflected rager made for radio, with production from herself, songwriting duo Nova Wav – who also worked on Everything Is Love, her album with husband Jay-Z as The Carters – Danish Europop producer Rissi, and R&B innovators The-Dream and Raphael Saadiq. But plenty lies underneath the surface, from her Texas-styled “drink in my cup” and “hit them ‘draulics” inflections to a bridge that sounds uncannily like a Rick James-like 80s funk jam, and a brief interpolation of the late Teena Marie’s “Ooh La La La.” Even when Beyoncé takes over the nightclub, she brings her talent for world-building concepts to the dance floor.–M.R.


‘No Angel’ (2013)

“No Angel” is simple and sexy easy-listening from Beyoncé, which feels rare and special from a powerhouse vocalist like her. She quickly shows off that skill with some impressive ad-libs as the song winds down, but “No Angel” is composed of mostly calm and breathy singing about two lovers embracing their humanity. Caroline Polachek, who wrote the song’s original treatment, likened Bey’s approach to painting. “It sounds like the whole song melts,” said the singer-songwriter. “It’s amazing.” —M.C.


‘Flawless’ (2013)

“Flawless” began as a loosie SoundCloud track that drew inspiration from fellow Houston native DJ Screw’s eponymous production style, and turned into a masterpiece of confidence and dominance. Featuring a series of samples from “We Should All Be Feminists,” a speech delivered by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at a TEDxEuston event, as well as the Star Search episode in which Bey’s then-girl group Girl’s Tyme appeared and lost, the song uses her life experiences as a message: “The reality is, sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose, you’re never too big to lose … and you have to embrace those things.” In this case, her loss even included an infamous fight between her husband and sister that Nicki Minaj referenced on this song’s remix. Beyoncé’s performance exceeds expectations. More than being “flawless,” it’s fearless. —K.T.


‘Party,’ feat. J. Cole and André 3000 (2011)

Beyoncé’s 4 is a testament to her attention to detail. “Party,” which she helped produce with Kanye West, showcases her ability to combine every part of what makes her music unique. The opening synth chords are unforgettable earworms. Beyoncé stacked her signature harmonies, and André 3000 was tapped to deliver a delightful verse full of double-entendres. J. Cole also phoned in a feature for a remix, but André’s performance is significantly better because of the dexterity in his rhymes, thus culminating in a luxurious ode to a good time. —M.M.


‘Dance for You’ (2011)

Turning church organs into a tool for carnal worship, “Dance for You” is one of Bey’s most successful musical marriages of sensuality and love. With more than six minutes of searing guitar, buzzy synths, and unmitigated adulation, Beyoncé spreads the gospel of her desire to her lover alone, but the spirit of her confidence and passion could empower anyone to give the object of their affection a show. This is one of the best songs in Beyoncé’s discography to mimic her sexiest moves to. —M.C.


‘Virgo’s Groove’ (2022)

“Pursue me/ Kiss me where you bruise me/Ooh wee ooh wee,” lilts Beyoncé on “Virgo’s Groove.” “Taste me/The fleshy part/I scream so loud.” It’s one of the most explicitly sensuous numbers from her album Renaissance, evoking moments when love and nightlife inspire a wave of sexual passion. But she also makes clear that she’s dancing with her monogamous partner, not just freaking on the dance floor (though there’s plenty of that, too). “You are the love of my life,” she sings.–M.R.


‘Daddy Lessons,’ feat. the Chicks (2016)

When Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, native of Texas, released her swaggering tribute to country music on Lemonade, some critics slammed her effort as not being “country enough.” The Chicks, quite familiar with unhinged criticism from the country-music establishment — they were banned from the radio because of their criticism of then-President George W. Bush — quickly voiced their support for the superstar’s song, literally, by covering it during their comeback tour. But while the artists’ individual versions of “Daddy Lessons” are great, this collaboration at the Country Music Awards is absolutely scorching and joyfully defiant. —L.T.


‘1+1’ (2011)

In 2011, Beyoncé’s promotional single “1+1,”  which peaked at Number 57 on the Billboard 100 chart, introduced a sensual and vulnerable side of the then almost-30-year-old. Originally named “Nothing But Love,” the song was supposed to be featured on The-Dream’s Love vs. Money album, which was released the preceding year. The ballad ribbons and perfectly laces together funk, rock, R&B, and soul, akin to Prince. The accompanying music video showcases a wondrous and hypnotic display of kaleidoscopic and Rorschach-ink-test images of Beyoncé herself. “Am I the same Beyoncé? Absolutely not,” she said. —D.J. 


‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ (2016)

“Don’t Hurt Yourself” isn’t thrilling because Bey goes rock, it’s thrilling because she reclaims rock — and reminds us of the pivotal role Black women had in forming the genre. She samples Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” originally written by Black Delta-blues singers Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, and enlists Jack White, whose love of the blues influenced his entire career. “I just talked to her, and she said, ‘I wanna be in a band with you,’” White recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘Really? Well, I’d love to do something.’ She took just sort of a sketch of a lyrical outline and turned [it] into the most bodacious, vicious, incredible song. … I’m so amazed at what she did with it.” If you need one more reason why this song rules: the line “You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy.” —A.M.