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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

Photo illustration by Tracy Allison for Rolling Stone; Images used in illustration by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage; Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIDAL; Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Sunyixun/Getty Images

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).” In honor of the impending arrival of her seventh studio album (out this Friday), we’ve compiled and ranked 70 of Beyoncé’s greatest tracks as a solo artist – including a few prominent features. Bow down. 

From Rolling Stone US


‘Rocket’ (2013)

On “Rocket,” Beyoncé centers her personal politics around her own unmitigated pleasure. Tasked by the singer to offer up something that reflected her own sense of confidence, songwriters Miguel and Justin Timberlake came up with an extremely detailed look at a sexual power play that takes every phase of the journey seriously. Beyoncé and her collaborators were inspired by D’Angelo’s slow-burn landmark “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” as well as Prince, creating a soulful funk record that serves as a step-by-step guide to her own climax. —C.B.


‘Check on It,’ feat. Bun B and Slim Thug (2005)

In 2006, a Pink Panther movie starring Steve Martin and Beyoncé Knowles hit theaters. Prior to its release, Beyoncé dropped “Check on It,” featuring Houston rappers Bun B and Slim Thug, which came with a pink-tinted music video that sees her putting on the ultimate solo show. For some reason, this 2005 single is not included on the motion picture soundtrack — instead, it’s a bonus track on the deluxe edition of B’Day. But it went on to become a Houston anthem and then a full-on commercial success when it peaked at Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and won the Best R&B Video category at the MTV Video Music Awards. —S.G.


‘Irreplaceable’ (2006)

The cornerstone of Beyoncé’s second album, B’Day, started as something very different. “I was thinking about Shania Twain and Faith Hill when I wrote that song,” said “Irreplaceable” writer Ne-Yo. A decade before “Daddy Lessons,” Beyoncé did eventually team up with Sugarland for a countrified take on the power ballad, but by that point “Irreplaceable” had already taken over the world. The song went triple platinum and helped establish Beyoncé as a career artist who could traverse genres: It thrived in the R&B, pop, dance, adult contemporary, and even Latin charts, which Beyoncé conquered with her Spanish-language “Irreemplazable.” “Irreplaceable” also earned the most aughts honor of them all: the most popular ring tone from a female artist of the entire decade. —J.B.


‘Drunk in Love’ (2013)

The reason “Drunk in Love” feels so sexy and carefree is because Beyoncé and Jay-Z recorded it off the cuff. “I kind of freestyled the verse, and Jay went in and he started flowing out his verse,” she explained in 2013. “We were just having fun.” You can hear the loose vibe when Beyoncé sings “We woke up in the kitchen sayin’, ‘How the hell did this shit happen?’” before sensuously growling “Drunk in loooove.” They found that feeling again for Hype Williams’ video; Beyoncé says “surfboardt” with the “T” without flinching. Jay-Z feels so pleasantly faded he doesn’t even open his eyes to rap about “foreplay in the foyer.” All that matters in the moment is Bey’s soaring refrain, “looo-oo-ove,” which is still echoing nearly a decade later. —K.G.


‘All Night’ (2016)

After all of Lemonade’s turmoil and tragedy, “All Night” uplifts and inspires. Beyoncé has always been an incredible purveyor of love songs, but this is one of the most raw and, perhaps, realistic. There’s no crazed passion, no danger, no balladeering — instead, there is painful imperfection, deep admiration, and most of all, fervent hope. Amid its trepidation, “All Night” sounds triumphant, with a steady groove, warm guitar, and the unforgettable brass line from OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” The honesty and poetry of its lyrics paired with depth and breadth of its production make “All Night” an incredible entry in Beyoncé’s oeuvre. —M.C.


‘Get Me Bodied (Extended Mix)’ (2007)

Everything about “Get Me Bodied” — the sparkle and pop of the production, Beyoncé’s sheer belting power — worked as a siren call to dance floors everywhere. The singer seemed to realize she had a complete classic on her hands: In the music video, as striking as the song itself, she paid homage to Bob Fosse and the Frug dance craze, a sly wink at the fact that she was adding her own moves to the dance canon and giving the world another iconic moment. —J.L.


‘Dangerously in Love 2’ (2003)

Beyoncé’s “Dangerously In Love 2” is a probing R&B ballad that serves as a pivotal moment on her self-titled debut album. A version of the song had already appeared on Destiny’s Child’s third album, Survivor. Beyoncé and co-writer-producer Errol McCalla Jr. modified it slightly and retitled it “Dangerously in Love 2,” creating a showcase for the depth, range, and power of Beyoncé as a newly minted solo belter. “Dangerously in Love 2” ended up winning her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. —R.M.


‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ (2008)

With her marriage to Jay-Z still secret at the time, Beyoncé delivered one of the all-time great relationship-empowerment anthems — written by the powerhouse team of Beyoncé, Terius “The-Dream” Nash, Thaddis “Kuk” Harrell, and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. Stewart said he wanted the song to feel like “a coffee-table conversation.” Beyoncé’s dance moves in the equally historic black-and-white video (inspired by Bob Fosse’s 1969 performance of “Mexican Breakfast” on The Ed Sullivan Show), sparked a cultural phenomenon (one of many for her), and the song’s jump-up beat and barrage of intersecting hooks made sure it was a musical coup, too. Rolling Stone ranked it the best song of 2008. —J.D.


‘Love Drought’ (2016)

The fire of Lemonade’s infidelity-fueled angst quells at “Love Drought,” the album’s midpoint. It coalesces into something as serene as it is uncertain. Twinkling synths and stretchy bass swirl throughout, taking us somewhere lush and visceral, like a mystic forest grown from Beyoncé scorched earth. Stripped of the bounce, drama, and darkness of the songs that precede it, “Love Drought” leaves Beyoncé calmly doing the mental math of a troubled romance, comparing ratios of transgressions to those of effort. Her darting stream of consciousness over strikingly ethereal production makes the song a standout. Also impressive is the origin of “Love Drought” — it’s the brainchild of co-writer and signee of Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, Ingrid, who penned it about the push and pull of former label employees, not of a sullied love. —M.C.


‘Partition’ (2013)

Inspired by this song’s tugging bass line and spare, finger-snap beat, Beyoncé got on the mic and came up with the gloriously steamy “Partition” — depicting what is easily the greatest limo ride in pop-music history. With its Monica Lewinsky reference, a French sample that appeared to be a quote from Julianne Moore’s character in The Big Lebowski, and a fever-dream electro-thump track, “Partition” was hardly your everyday sex jam. It was the sound of desire unlocking musical freedom, even if Bey later said the song’s specifically suggestive content meant she could probably never play it for her mom. “I was so embarrassed after I recorded the song, ’cause I’m just talkin’ shit.” —J.D.  


‘Me, Myself and I’ (2003)

The opening of “Me, Myself, and I” — “All the ladies if you feel me, help me sing it out” — could be mistaken for Destiny’s Child singing in perfect unison, but Beyoncé is harmonizing with herself, asserting her independence in more ways than one. The track, released as the third single from her solo debut, Dangerously in Love, shows her discovering new maturity in her sound and lyrical content, all while giving fans a self-empowered anthem and encouraging them to find strength in themselves. —J.L.


‘Love on Top’ (2011)

On this loping, joyous Eighties-R&B throwback, Beyoncé manages to channel both Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston, sometimes simultaneously. A daunting series of ever-ascending key changes, meanwhile, helps turn the song into one of her most jaw-dropping vocal showcases, pushing to the top of her range and beyond. When The-Dream wrote the song with Shea Taylor, it originally had only a single half-step key change at the end — Beyoncé spontaneously added all the others herself while recording vocals with engineer Jordan “DJ Swivel” Young. —B.H.


‘Sorry’ (Homecoming Live) (2019)

More than 200 artists, including musicians, dancers, and technical staff, elevated this Lemonade single from a buzzy and revealing pop song to a full-on cultural production. Sure, the brassy arrangement of not only “Sorry,” but also an interlude of “Me, Myself, and I” was huge, daring, and gorgeous. As important, though, this live recording from her knockout Coachella sets in 2018 includes a girl-powered reimagining of Black collegiate tradition, complete with intricate stepping and a homage to Greek life. With “Beychella,” as it’s known, the Queen made a giant leap in her artistry, not only as a performer, but also as a creative director, with another world-stopping, purposeful, pristine feat of secrecy and surprise. —M.C.


‘Crazy in Love’ (2003)

The first time Beyoncé heard the funky horn fanfare that announced “Crazy in Love” as her solo breakthrough, she didn’t know what to make of it. “It has this go-go feel to it, this old-school feel,” she said in 2004. “I wasn’t sure if people were going to get it.” But she figured she’d give it a chance and challenged producer Rich Harrison to make the Chi-Lites sample work. Harrison got the idea for the “looking so crazy right now” chorus after Beyoncé told him she felt she looked disheveled that day. “That’s the hook,” he told her, before writing verses about her obsession with her then-boyfriend, Jay-Z, who recorded his verse in about 10 minutes. The track skyrocketed to Number One, and years later, Beyoncé gave her obsession new life when she recut “Crazy” as a slower, sultrier remix for the 2015 soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey. —K.G.


‘Formation’ (2016)

“Formation” was a rallying cry for Beyoncé’s most ambitious artistic era, and a call to arms that deepened the political edge that’s always existed in her music. In 2016, when Bey surprise-released this single ahead of her iconic Super Bowl performance, she shocked the world, and looked like she effortlessly knew exactly what she was doing. What ensued was a glorious display of femininity and Blackness that echoed globally. The biting lyrics on “Formation” align with the self-expression and self-exploration that were pivotal components of her 2016 masterpiece, Lemonade. Beyoncé leaned aggressively into her Southern roots, proudly claiming, “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana/You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama.” And producer Mike WiLL Made-It injected harsh 808s into a swaying, swaggering track, adding extra bite into one of the 21st century’s most thrilling and bracing pop music statements. —R.M.


‘Deja Vu,’ feat. Jay-Z (2006)

If “Crazy in Love” made Beyoncé a star, then the first single from her sophomore album, B’Day, introduced her as a fully-formed artist. Coming off the backs of her solo debut and her final album with Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé partnered with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Makeba, Keli Nicole Price, and Delisha Thomas to create a sonically challenging jam that served as a foremother to every Bey era that followed. From the song’s iconic BET Awards performance (an early glimpse of her alter ego Sasha Fierce) to its masterful perfection of her chemistry with Jay-Z to the way the funky track forecasts 4, and its Southern Gothic homage to her creole roots predicts Lemonade, “Deja Vu” isn’t just the best song in her discography — it defines it. —K.T.