Beyoncé may be the most successful female artist of all time. From her start as a member of Destiny’s Child to her solo career, she’s one of the most iconic female artists to ever live. With her incredible runs on the charts and becoming the most-awarded female musician in the history of the Grammys, it’s hard to see anything but greatness from her.
An honest look at her discography will leave you hard-pressed to find any definitive list of her best tracks, but we’ll do our best. Here are the 31 best songs of all time during her solo career.
1. Crazy In Love
Crazy In Love served as Beyoncé’s debut as a solo artist in the music world, and wow did she make a huge splash. The lead single from her debut solo album Dangerously In Love, this track meshed the elements of pop, soul, and some funk together with a spectacular rap verse from her husband, Jay-Z. It instantly shot up to become a number-one hit in the US and UK, finding universal acclaim among critics. VH1 declared it the song of the decade for the 2000s, while Rolling Stone listed it at number 16 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2021.
The track won not one but two Grammy Awards, taking home Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 46th Annual Grammy Award Show. The accompanying music video would then go on to win three awards at the MTV Video Music Awards as well, eventually leading to her making it her most performed song in her live shows.
2. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
I think just about everyone knows of or has heard Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). Honestly, that alone speaks volumes about the song’s popularity, catchiness, and success, but we’ll go a bit deeper. Released from Beyoncé’s third studio album, the track contrasts its double–A-side counterpart the way her personality contrasts her on-stage alter-ego.
This single won three awards at the 2010 Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year. It also topped the Billboard charts for four weeks, was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA, and was one of the best-selling tracks of the year globally. Quite literally everyone was bouncing around singing “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it” that year.
3. Drunk In Love
Drunk In Love was one of two lead singles for Beyoncé’s fifth studio album in 2013. Most people saw it as a follow-up to Crazy In Love, diving into her confident, sexual side and her work. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent eight weeks in the Top 10 before going on to win Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance at the Grammy Awards in 2015.
The year before, she performed the track alongside her husband at the 56th Grammy Awards, with sections of the performance making it into the lauded and acclaimed music video for the song.
4. Love On Top
Love On Top was a bit of a throwback for Beyoncé; she normally broke ground with her releases, but on this one, she took us back to the 80s for some good old-fashioned R&B rhythms that could have been performed alongside The Jackson Five or Stevie Wonder and nobody would have blinked. It’s also a song that shows off her vocal prowess, going through four separate keys throughout the track.
It debuted and peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and her announcing her pregnancy at the end of a performance on the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards saw it shoot up the charts internationally. It reigned over the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts for seven consecutive weeks. At the 55th Grammy Awards, she took home the award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the song as well.
5. Deja Vu
Deja Vu was another of Beyoncé’s odes to old-school R&B music, featuring the hi-hats, bass guitars, and horns that were so present in that era of the genre. Heck, she even used a Roland TR-808 drum machine for it. It was released as the lead single from her 2006 B’Day album, receiving mixed criticism for how it resembled Crazy In Love but didn’t set the world on fire as that one did.
Despite mixed reviews, it received three Grammy nominations at the 2007 set of those awards and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles chart.
6. Run The World (Girls)
You know how we said everyone heard Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)? This song was just as ever-present as that one was. While it’s much maligned by certain music critics who point to its incredibly simple lyrics that have seven total writers credited on the track, that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
It is a straight-up female-empowerment anthem and a good one at that. Its unapologetic and aggressive message might have been kind of divisive but was so relatable it didn’t matter. In the end, Run The World (Girls) peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was performed at several distinguished live venues, including the 2011 Billboard Music Awards and on the French version of X Factor.
Halo serves as an inspired pop and R&B power ballad that was meant to be a peek behind the curtain of Beyoncé’s life. It was all about a sublime type of love, featuring a complex musical arrangement that sounds beautiful. It was nominated for Record of the Year and won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards in 2010, additionally taking home Best Song at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Formation was the bounce-trap lead single of Beyoncé’s 2016 album Lemonade and was a major surprise release to fans who were impatiently waiting on the album. The song is really a celebration of her roots, her success as a black woman, and her overall identity.
In 2016, the track was hailed by critics as one of the best of the year, winning six MTV Music Video Awards and earning three Grammy Nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Music Video, winning the last one of those. Eventually, it would be known as a protest track and both the Black Lives Matter movement and the women’s march would take it up as an anthem.
Another entry from Lemonade allegedly directed at her husband, Jay-Z. The song discusses the struggle of dealing with a partner that betrayed them by being with another woman but adopts a self-empowering attitude and was widely seen as her most unapologetic track on the album. Sorry would debut at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and become certified platinum by the RIAA.
10. Me, Myself and I
As an entry on Beyoncé’s debut solo album, Me, Myself and I really served as her new journey track—this was after the end of Destiny’s Child as she embarked on her solo career. The performance of this song at The Beyoncé Experience Live was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009. The original version peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was her fourth-consecutive top-five single to come off her debut solo album.
***Flawless is an interesting song since it’s divided into two parts: Bow Down and ***Flawless. The two sections are separated by a speech from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled We Should All Be Feminists. It’s another of Beyoncé’s trap-inspired tracks, peaking at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charting on several of that publication’s other charts. One of the best performances for the song came at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards, in a medley of tracks from her fifth studio album.
12. BLACK PARADE
BLACK PARADE was inspired in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the protests that came right after it. The song was purposefully released on June 19th, as that’s considered Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the US. Additional versions of the were included in Beyoncé’s films Black Is King and The Lion King: The Gift. She, of course, gave us a great vocal performance, but the celebration of black culture and condemnation of police brutality brought the track rave reviews.
This was the most-nominated song at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards and earned her 28th Grammy Award win, making her the most-awarded singer and most-awarded female artist in the award’s history.
Partition is another two-part song from Beyoncé on this list, containing both Yoncé and Partition. It’s a transition from a sweet, girl-group pop sound to some grittier and more hardcore hip hop. The second part is the most striking, depicting sex in the back of a limousine. It would eventually peak at number 23 on the Hot 100 while reaching number nine on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and topping the US Hot Dance Club Songs.
14. Get Me Bodied
Get Me Bodied was an upbeat, pop-inspired song that mixes Beyoncé’s traditional R&B with dancehall and reggae vibes. It was widely recognized as one of the best R&B and hip hop tracks of 2007. While its initial run on the Hot 100 peaked at number 68, a viral video saw it re-enter the charts and make its way to number 46 in 2013. Like all of the great Beyoncé songs, this one also comes with an excellent music video.
15. Hold Up
Hold Up has samples of famous songs galore, from Soulja Boy’s Turn My Swag On to Maps from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Not one of Beyoncé’s biggest releases ever, but the track is still absolutely great. It was even nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 59th Grammy Awards. It peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100 and debuted on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number eight.
16. If I Were A Boy
If you’re mad I have this song so far in this list, I don’t blame you. There’s a great argument to be made for this being one of Beyoncé’s greatest songs ever, but then again, everything on this list fits that category. If I Were A Boy was originally a track from BC Jean but gained international recognition when Beyoncé picked it up for her 2008 album, I Am… Sasha Fierce.
It was the other lead single release—alongside Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) from her album, drawing on folk-rock influences to create a wonderful R&B ballad. It became her fourth number-one song on the Hot Digital Songs chart and peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Irreplaceable was created as a ballad that either gender would be able to relate to rather than just playing on Beyoncé’s female perspective. It ended up doing that, with lyrics discussing the unfortunate breakup of a couple after the man was unfaithful, and even squeezes in another message of female empowerment without making it all about that side of things.
The song was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys and became her fourth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, sitting atop that chart for 10 consecutive weeks.
18. Sweet Dreams
Sweet Dreams was intended for Beyoncé’s third studio album but ended up leaking and released early. It came out officially as the album’s sixth single to massive critical praise. The combination of her slinky lyrics and electropop sound was music to everyone’s ears and contrasted the style of her earlier albums. The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would eventually go on to be certified platinum in the US.
19. Best Thing I Never Had
This is another one of Beyoncé’s songs that could really fit anywhere on this list, depending on how much it resonated with you. The whole subject of the track is themes of revenge and karma, feeling happy for having left someone who didn’t see the potential of your relationship. It could even be seen as a follow-up song to Irreplaceable. Best Thing I Never Had peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and made it to number three on the UK Singles chart.
XO mirrors Halo in its electronic music hooks and call-and-response choruses, but the song easily stands on its own two legs. It would eventually peak at number 45 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but it found bigger success after the release of its music video. The Coney Island shot video was made available alongside the album release on iTunes and helped promote Beyoncé’s upcoming tour.
21. Ring The Alarm
Ring The Alarm was the second single to be released from B’Day in the US, largely being developed on the Broadway musical adaption of Dreamgirls. It was a bit of a switch-up from earlier releases, something not everyone was thrilled with. Despite mixed reviews, it would get a Grammy nod for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. At the time of its release, it was her highest Hot 100 debut, entering the chart at number 12 and peaking at number 11, but it was also her first song to not make it into the Top 10.
Diva ended up being the third single released in the US from Beyoncé’s 2008 album, delivering a thrilling beat and ever-inspiring messages of independence and female empowerment. It eventually peaked at number 19 on the Hot 100 and would go on to be certified double platinum by the RIAA.
Countdown was completely inspired by Beyoncé’s desire to mix the 70s and 90s music styles. It would eventually be released as the fifth single from her 4 album, sampling a Boyz II Men song and celebrating a healthy relationship. The track would peak at number 71 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
24. BREAK MY SOUL
One of Beyoncé’s few songs that could fit in as a house music track, BREAK MY SOULs found instant critical praise when it was released. It topped the Hot 100, Hot Dance, and Electronic Song charts simultaneously in the US and received three nominations at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards.
25. Daddy Lessons
This title might hit differently in the 2020s than it did in the 2010s, but that doesn’t change that it’s a great song. This Beyoncé track was so out of her normal R&B methodology that many critics wondered if it actually constituted a country song. It is ironic since she would perform it at the Country Music Association Awards, winning several country awards thanks to that performance.
26. Beautiful Liar
Let’s be honest, any song that combines the powers of Beyoncé and Shakira is going to be a good one. Released on the deluxe version of B’Day, Beautiful Liar meshed Shakira’s Latin style with Beyoncé’s R&B. It’s a female empowerment anthem, with both infatuated with the same man but agreeing not to see him instead of fighting. It was nominated for several awards, including Best Pop Collaboration at the Grammys and two awards at the Latin Grammys. A commercially successful track, it made it to number three on the Hot 100 and peaked at the number one spot in several other countries.
Freedom became an incredible collaboration between Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, right at the peak of both of their powers. It made it to number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 40 on the UK Singles chart.
Its music video, like most releases from Lemonade, served as an integral part of the film based on the album of the same name. It was a bit of fresh air compared to other songs on the album for critics, straying away from the anger and revenge that were prevalent in the rest of the album’s releases.
28. All Night
All Night is probably the most reggae-heavy song Beyoncé has released, featuring horns, strings, and brass notes throughout. Lyrically, it deals with trying to rekindle a relationship and rebuilding trust after infidelity, something it seems she went through herself. Another low-key song on the storm of passion that was Lemonade, this track was ranked as the 15th Best Song of 2016 by Entertainment Weekly. Commercially, it made it to number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 23 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
29. MOOD 4 EVA
Beyoncé worked closely with Disney’s remake of The Lion King, predominantly on the accompanying soundtrack, The Gift. MOOD 4 EVA was the 12th track on that project, essentially working as a celebratory anthem with a tropical African beat.
30. Love Drought
Another impassioned single from Lemonade, Love Drought is yet another song we could place almost anywhere on this list. The track debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 and did well on her usual stomping-ground charts. Not truly one of her greatest songs, but one that is easy to resonate with and spoke to fans, it is a classic Beyoncé track that sometimes gets lost among its peers.
Beyoncé doesn’t get sexual in a song often unless it’s in an empowering way, but Rocket stands out a bit. It sees her referencing her male partner through sexual innuendos and adopting softer and more sensual vocals than she normally would. It’s a different side of her than we normally see, the soft instead of the fierce. While it does not define her that way, it does highlight how big a range her vocal performances can pull off and how versatile an artist she truly is.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.