Thursday, March 12, 2015

This List is RANK: The Top 40 Beyoncé Songs of All Time

[***Note: this marks the 200th post for the blog.]

She's Destiny's Child, the Queen turned King Bey and is essentially the next Madonna...Beyoncé has had all 5 of her albums debut at #1, made 2013 her bitch (Though any year she gains traction in is her bitch.) and has had released some of the most infectious singles of any female act of the last ten years.

These are the 40 best offerings from the King Beysus in the name of *blessing the children [*this is reference to a fabulously tacky post to Vine in which a girl screams "BEYONCÉ! SHE'S BLESSING THE CHILDREN!"]

***For reference, I'm considering more than just her proper studio albums from Dangerously in Love to BEYONCÉ. As with the others, overrated shit isn't making this list.***

40. "Video Phone" [the extended version ft. Lady Gaga/music video edit]- Let's get this out of the way now; "Video Phone" by itself is one of the worst moves Bey made. The extended mix featuring Gaga added a bit of...well it reduced the sext-friendly bullshit "Video Phone" had in the song. The video however, is blaring colors and unexpectedly decadent.
What has this in the Top 40? Collaboration can save a life sometimes.

39. "Drunk in Love" ft. Jay-Z [from BEYONCÉ]- Yes, I'm aware that this song is the most successful of either the standard or platinum edition of Bey's latest album. However, in terms of Bey and Jay collaborations this is the weakest ("On the Run Part II" wins worst collaboration between them. Subtle difference, but it's there.)
The slinky instrumental added with a sexually impure iteration of Beyoncé was a welcome change but compared to the rest of Bey's catalog, this gets the job done but not particularly well for her singing or Jay's rapping ["Your breasteses my breakfast", "SERRFBOARRRT", "Wotturmelleh" and "Eat the cake Anna Mae"? Really queen? -_-]

38. "Irreplaceable" [from B'Day]- A song Chrisette Michele and countless other female singers shouldn't have turned down. Originally written by and meant for Ne-Yo, LA Reid pointed out that the song was catchy but something "a girl should say to a guy". After that, Beyoncé was able to get the vibe of the song and was able to make it a #1 hit.
Why the low ranking? Despite the ubiquity, the song simply doesn't hold much against the rest of the list let alone the catalog.

37. "Get Me Bodied" [from B'Day]- A surprisingly catchy cut from her sophomore effort, "Get Me Bodied" is like most of the bottom 4 of this list; proving that she's done a lot better in terms of singing but isn't above a cut that encourages the listener/s to "pat, pat, pat your weaves".

36. "Check on It" ft. Slim Thug [from the soundtrack to The Pink Panther/Destiny's Child compilation #1's]- A banging track from back in the mid 00s. In this song, Bey goes at the speed of light in some of her fastest vocal delivery. The video adds its subtle charms [even if it reminds people that acting and Bey rarely go together.] a collective of pink ensembles and a reminder that Slim Thug was once a thing.

35. "1+1" [from 4]- A track made famous from a dressing room rehearsal for American Idol. Granted "1+1" contains lyrical pyrite such as "I don't know much about Alge-buhh/but I know 1+1=2" the live versions of this cut showcases the earnest vocals of Bey. Even if balladry isn't her strong suit, "1+1" benefits from said earnest and heartfelt sentiments emoted by Bey.

34. "Suga Mama" [from B'Day]- One of the under-appreciated tracks from her second album, "Suga Mama" is one of her most deliciously bombastic and swagger laden cuts to date. Granted the music video outshines the song, it still earns a place on this list for simply allowing the cheeky and love-seeking sides of Bey co-exist [falling off of a mechanical bull is simply fabulous when she does so.]

33. "Poison" [bonus track on I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- A bonus track that was better than most of the flimsy and uneven third double disc album. "Poison" has Bey experiment with some semi-dated sounds [Justin Timberlake c. 2006-2008 much?] but it benefits from the mix of mid-tempo vocals and semi-dated dance/pop sounds.
Still, "Poison" is relatively deep especially considering the minor gripes about the production of the song.

32. "Heaven" [from BEYONCÉ]- The piano work does wonders for a cut that's actually "personal" from the alleged "personal album". One of her better ballads, "Heaven" is minimalist in terms of vocal firepower but still worth at least two more replays. As for its ranking? Better songs have been made in the long-run.

31. "Fever" [product tie-in single with her fragrance Heat]- A cover of the Peggy Lee song that was an impetus to a UK ban. Like any other celebrity figure that reaches "superstar" status, Beyoncé was almost required to release a fragrance. Heat was the fragrance and this song was packaged alongside the perfume for a limited time.
For all the slinky instrumentals, Bey's vocals feel almost forced into lower registers that she isn't exactly known for.
Still, ambition alone to cover a "classic" warrants a fairly high ranking but not into the Top 30 of this list.


30. "Freakum Dress" [from B'Day]- Let's get this out of the way; B'Day era Bey is some of the most goddamn opulent and swagger-laden she's ever been. In the case of "Freakum Dress", this is the pop tale of a woman who paints the town red when her man doesn't realize at any point, she can leave his ass.
Also, the video is one of her best; jump cuts + Beyoncé in dresses galore? Yes, please. In terms of singing, this is good work considering the rapid-fire cadence of the production and lyrics.

29. "Green Light" [from B'Day]- The video and song that served some Robert Palmer realness. As with "Freakum Dress", "Green Light" showcases adaptive vocals to a rapid-fire tempo and some pretty hardcore brass and drum sections. The vocal cadence isn't as fast as "Freakum Dress" or "Check on It" but that doesn't hurt "Green Light" and its jazzy meets polecat swagger vibes.

28. "Resentment" [the live version performed at the Wynn Las Vegas for I AM...YOURS]- On its own, "Resentment" is a decent cut with enough lyrical ether to shame every ex you've ever had. Yet for a Las Vegas encore concert at the Wynn, Beyoncé delivered her best live vocal ever. "First time" performance my ass, but that isn't hurting a live performance as legendary as this.

27. "Why Don't You Love Me?" [bonus track on I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- At times, the instrumental is serving Gran Turismo 3 percussion realness but that's minor griping. Vocally, this is her most robust and gritty delivery to date. The video for all of its kitschy sepia filtered vintage charm, really derails the charm for two reasons:
1. Beyoncé's blonde Bettie Page bangs should've never happened. The brunette version was far prettier. 2. B.B. Homemaker is the most afterthought ridden alter-ego for a music video [no surprise this was the only appearance of the character].

26. "Partition" [from BEYONCÉ]- To clarify, this doesn't include the "Yoncé" interlude. Once "Partition" actually kicks in, this is really the 3rd most deliciously sexually impure cut on the album. Eye-popping lyrics such as "He popped off my buttons and he ripped my blouse/He Monica Lewinsky'd all on my gown" and "Hand prints and footprints all on my glass/hand prints and good grips all on my ass" showed that this was the era of Beyoncé accepting her role as the next Madonna.
Vocally, this is some of her strongest on a mid-tempo cut that's clear in sexual overtones.

25. "Run the World (Girls)" [from 4]- The song that garnered shit from the gate upon its arrival. When word of this track sampling "Pon de Floor" by Major Lazer was made known, the hate started immediately. Audio wise, once the eventual #29 on the Hot 100 track was met with outright division among the casual listener.
The video for this track saved it from outright hate altogether. This was when the pop-star feminist in Beyoncé started to show herself.
Admittedly, the braggadocious delivery doesn't do Beyoncé total justice here. However, a secret weapon of Bey is her ability to adapt almost seamlessly with whatever the hell is made for her. This track is no exception.

24. "Ego" [from I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- Another under-appreciated track...unless you're counting the subject. This is Bey's most swagger-laden/braggadocious/feeling her oats vocal presentation. At one point she actually sings "I don't need no beat/I can sing it with piano". *snaps in a Z formation* Despite the double entendre "He gotta big ego/I love his big ego" and such, this is undeniably a swagger track.

23. "Rocket" [from BEYONCÉ]- Let me sit this traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack on you [I had to.] Alluring, sensual and sexual (But without pretense; I'm looking at you, Erotica era Madonna) to where you believe Bey had an orgasm after singing this. This is the track that in a YouTube behind the scenes compilation, Pharrell told her "You just let the women out of jail." (Or something like that; he's always had a knack for uttering some profound shit.)
Sexual Beyoncé is at her most passionate here and that is for the better of the listener/s.

22. "***Flawless" ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [from BEYONCÉ]- NO; that goddamn remix is nowhere near this list. The original cut of "***Flawless" combines the actual Star Search audio of when Bey and the Destiny's Child prototype, Girlz Tyme, competed and lost the show (Thus becoming actual stars.) alongside a TEDTalk with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, i.e. the impetus of feminist Beyoncé becoming front and center to the mainstream.
In terms of sonic ambition, props to the original "Bow Down" half of the SoundCloud submitted "Bow Down/I Been On" for surviving the cut. It's the most gully Bey has ever been on a track and mixed with everything else...goddamn, goddamn, goddamn!

21. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" [from I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- The last #1 hit on the Hot 100 to Bey's name at the moment. Famous for its earworm status, the hand choreography and ultimately its video (And some ol' bullshit Kanye West pulled on Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs.) The video despite its fabulous nature is another case of the "Ray of Light" principle working its way here; when the video powers over everything in the song, the song loses its original audible escapist intent.
["In other words, you hate it when a video becomes way more popular than the song?" DUH -_-] As a song itself, the production might overpower her vocals, but they still stand out for all the right reasons.


20. "Baby Boy" ft. Sean Paul [from Dangerously in Love]- A classic in the oeuvre of the King Bey. The slinky Middle Eastern and/or Egyptian influenced instrumental mixed with one of the few collaborations in music where both parties benefit. The song on its own is one of the more clearly thought out cuts with a story it tries to convey. Bey's vocals at the time continued to show the promise of her eventual rise to solo super-stardom.

19. "Naughty Girl" [from Dangerously in Love]- A surefire way to win in music is building a kickass song off of a Donna Summer classic. Bey's version is this under-appreciated single from her debut album in which she builds upon the already stable foundation of "Love to Love You Baby" by the late disco titan. As coquettish as the vocals are, this was early pop-star sex appeal Beyoncé learned to play into and eventually work into her later work.

18. "7/11" [from the platinum edition of BEYONCÉ]- The surprise viral and radio hit [#13 peak on the Hot 100] from her latest album. The audio here might not showcase the best vocals of Bey's career, but this would be the track in which she says [for lack of better phrasing] "Fuck it; let's have fun!".
Lyrical hits need to be delivered for uttering lines like "Shouldasideways smakit smakit in the ayre", "Holdatcuhlikealcahaa" and "DONCHUDRATHATALCAHAA!" However, all is forgiven due to the sheer exuberance of the song. [Though the video to this day reads as nothing more than a glorified mashup of Instagram videos.]

17. "Superpower" ft. Frank Ocean [from BEYONCÉ]- This is essentially Beyoncé's take on a civil rights spiritual and this is fantastic. With help from Frank Ocean's subtle and sexual ether laden vocals, this other worldly and deep as fuck cut from the album is offering itself in its own sonic microcosm. Tracks like this prove that not only was BEYONCÉ a deep and personal album but that her team can't market and sell singles for shit. This was a goldmine and they just left it on its own.

16. "Upgrade U" ft. Jay-Z [from B'Day]- Beyoncé's most opulent and goddamn fabulous/grandiose track ever. Profound as fuck lyrics such as "I can do for you what Martin did for the people/Ran by the men, but the women keep the tempo." and the fact the bridge is a list of luxurious, rich bastard shit most people can't afford adds to the decadent charm to it all.
Jay-Z is also present on some of his best rapping on a guest verse to date. Add in a golden EVERYTHING video and the recipe for goddamn fabulous/grandiose is complete.

15. "Work it Out" [from the soundtrack for Austin Powers in Goldmember]- The first single from Beyoncé...that sadly was a Hot 100 bust as it failed to chart. Channeling her inner Foxy Cleopatra with help of Pharrell's production and a Solange co-write, this should've done the trick for the U.S. charts. Why it wasn't a smash single, I will never know. Add in a cute video with a hula hoop, Virgo jeans and FUNK on 11...I want the whole goddamn beehive.

14. "Me, Myself and I" [from Dangerously in Love]- The best track from her debut album. Looking for "Crazy in Love"? Go elsewhere. That song isn't even on the list (Come at me. I keep the spirit of MrSwearword vs. Everyone alive.) "Me, Myself and I" was concrete proof that Bey had talent and the ability to emote like a motherfucker. Funky, heartbroken and self-assuring this is one of her most versatile songs to date.

13. "Ring the Alarm" [from B'Day]- The track when Beyoncé pulled a Kaleidoscope era Kelis and screamed on her own goddamn chorus. The angriest Bey's been on a song, this is a standout for all the right reasons. The instrumental is uptempo, intense and indeed a reason to retreat if you've done wrong lest you face the wrath of a woman scorned.
Vocally, angry and scorned Beyoncé makes some fabulous music.

12. "Kitty Kat" [from B'Day]- One of the most under-appreciated tracks in Beyoncé's catalog. Deliciously evil, "Kitty Kat" is the most cheekily deceptive way of saying "I'm withholding sex, you bastard." This is one of the rarest cases of a lower register being able to convey icy/heartless sentiments but in such a sadistically coquettish delivery. Bonus points for the rap section being competent and capable for a pop-diva (I'm sneering at you American Life era Madonna.)

11. "Countdown" [from 4]- The upbeat cut that garnered needless cries of "plagiarism". -_- Although the song wasn't a Hot 100 success [#71 peak], the song showcased a fun-loving and Mountain Dew hyperactive side of Beyoncé. The video was as colorful and exuberant as the song and this is some of her best "shiny/happy" singing to date.


10. "Haunted" [from BEYONCÉ]- This doesn't include the "Ghost" interlude. Once "Haunted" kicks in, this is Beyoncé's most bone-chilling, iciest and hypnotic vocals of her career. A track that has grown on me since release [and a track that grew on views once her VEVO account had the rest of the videos up], this is the boldest/weirdest in theory and execution track she's ever had her name attached to. Bonus points for the piano work adding to the overall creep factor of the song.

9. "Beautiful Liar" ft. Shakira [from the deluxe version of B'Day]- One of the best collaborations of the past 10 years and with good reason. Not one, but two pop-divas with divisive perceived singing ability? Yes please. Soap opera trope level vocal melodrama? Yes, yes and yes! Add in the fact that this is some of the best Shakira vocals along with another set of near perfect Beyoncé vocals and this #3 on the Hot 100 hit is only suffering that 2 songs were allegedly better than this song at the time.

8. "Best Thing I Never Had" [from 4]- The most successful track from 4 and most deliciously vindictive song in her catalog. This was when "King Bey"/King B" was introduced to her fans with the cover art for the song had "King B" in lipstick on a mirror. Retribution and exuberance add to some of Beyoncé's most pleasant and projected vocals.
The video added some weird as fuck celebrity cameos, but that's a minor gripe (Compared to the reenacted home movie of Beyoncé leaving the prom king/loser of this song.) compared to the other general pleasantness of this cut.

7. "Love On Top" [from 4]- The best song and ironically the second most successful song from 4. Why ironically? The video needs righteous hits left and right for omitting the second verse in its entirety. It was meant to focus on the New Edition influence and key changes in the song. However, the influence was already there in the cadence and one of the key changes sounded like she was straining/reaching for those notes [from the 2nd to 3rd or the 3rd to 4th].
The video itself was one of her most minimalist but still tightly choreographed. The reason it can't rank higher? The omission of the second verse. Seriously, that shit is unacceptable.

6. "Halo" [from I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- One of Bey's best slow songs to be released as a single. Despite the thorn in Bey's side of balladry being her weak spot, "Halo" stands as proof that if given the correct ballad, she can do wonders with it (And stands as one of three good songs written by the otherwise talentless hack, Ryan Tedder). Angelic like the subject, "Halo" is simply put another jewel in her catalog's crown.


5. "Sweet Dreams" [from I AM...SASHA FIERCE]- The best of I AM...SASHA FIERCE and the weirdest Beyoncé's ever been in terms of instrumental accompaniment. Synth/dream pop seemed like a disaster, but oddly and fantastically the #10 on the Hot 100 hit further proved Beyoncé's ability to adapt to genre specific vibes on a song.
Bonus points for a trippy video with Gold Mecha-Beyoncé as one of the best things ever in this world.

4. "Blue" [from BEYONCÉ]- Another indicator of Beyoncé's team not knowing a good single when it's in front of them. An instance of a "personal" song from Bey on her "personal album". This is her at her most vulnerable and most emotionally captivating vocal presentation. Add in some of the best piano work in recorded music and a tear-jerking video to further demonstrate damn good work by Beyoncé.

3. "Blow" [from BEYONCÉ]- The new version of Kelis' "Milkshake" we were cheated out of because some idiot thought it was a good idea to release "XO" as a single -_- (I hope you got fired from life.) "Milkshake" with less subtext and extra CHAIRRYS should've screamed "RELEASE ME AS A SINGLE". That didn't happen, but anybody who isn't tone deaf or working as Bey's single release team knows this song was amazing. The least subtle allusions to cunnilingus and virginity busting made for the classic case of "THAT'S what that song was about?!" ["TURNNAT CHAIRRY OUT! TURNNAT CHAIRRY OUT!"]
Add in a disco friendly day-glo video of sheer joy [and damn good lighting for Beyoncé] and somebody needs a smack to the throat for not releasing this song as a single.

2. "Pretty Hurts" [from BEYONCÉ]- The song on this list that should've been way bigger than it was. Despite the video dialogue being in the song [peeve of mine] and the music video getting the dialogue backwards [-_-] this was the most personal track that should've been the lead single of BEYONCÉ (And NOT. "XO". "XO" is horrible and should not have happened.)
Hell, there was an Instagram campaign built around the song. Why not capitalize on that? Gripes aside, this is some of Bey's best singing on a slower song and acts one of two good songs written by Sia. The video for the song is fabulous as Yellow Bathing-suit Beyoncé is one of the best creations in her video catalog.

Before we get to the #1 song, here are some honorable mentions that missed out on the Top 40:
"Ring Off" from the platinum edition of BEYONCÉ, "No Angel" from BEYONCÉ and "Grown Woman" from her Pepsi commercial/music video side of BEYONCÉ.


1. "Deja Vu" ft. Jay-Z from [B'Day]- Apart from being the best collaborative effort between Beyoncé and Jay-Z ("Crazy in Love" stans, to the left, to the left. All your overrated shit in a box to the left.) "Deja Vu" is Bey's best singing, video work and has the best instrumental of all her singles. ALL of them.
Add in Creole Melodrama Realness at the Music Video Ball of Life and the only surprise is that this song wasn't #1 but #4. I don't know why, but this is simply put her best song.

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