Beyoncé truly is a superstar who’s got it all. She’s had dozens of hit singles and six successful studio albums. She’s got three utterly adorable kids and a loving (if apparently unfaithful) husband in Jay-Z. She’s undertaken numerous world tours, has brought feminism to a new generation and has basically earned a place in cultural history. Oh, and she was in Destiny’s Child. I always forget about that.
Among all of these incredible achievements, one thing that Queen B has done amazingly well is produce top-quality music videos. I mean, who on this planet doesn’t know the “Single Ladies” dance? She’s so good at expressing herself on film that her last two records have been visual albums. Like, she’s got serious talent in this area. The question is… which of her numerous videos is the best? We’ve selected her top 20 clips and ranked them according to how bloody brilliant they are. Has “Single Ladies” inevitably made number one? You’ll have to read on to find out…
20) “Broken-Hearted Girl”
The video for this I am… Sasha Fierce-era ballad isn’t bad, per se. It’s just a bit… meh. Queen B wanders around a beach looking sad for a while thanks to a bad relationship. Most of the video is shot in black and white to make it look more ~artsy~ and emotional. The waves crash in the background while tears stream down Beyoncé’s face. At least the ending is still positive – color returns to B’s world once again. Her green dress is also pretty stunning. However, the vid in general just isn’t up to the standards we expect from an utter queen like Mrs. Carter.
19) “Video Phone”
”Video Phone” was the second of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga’s telephone-themed collaborations. The video’s pretty cool – if a little strange – but there’s just too much going on. We couldn’t keep up! First, B is walking in an alleyway with a ton of guys in suits, Resevoir Dogs-style. Then she does some sexy dancing for two blokes with cameras for heads. Honestly, that’s where the video lost me. Gaga and Queen B shoot fake guns and arrows at various cameras and their operators before moving into a synchronized sexy chair dance. Okay, that last bit is pretty cool. Still… The whole thing is a bit too weird for our liking.
This sultry ballad is often considered to be one of Beyoncé’s best songs. It’s tender, simple, and effortlessly shows off her incredible voice. However, the song’s video is… Interesting. It starts off with B looking pretty shiny and sparkly, but in a kind of “I’m really sweaty” way. Like, I’m sure it was meant to be artistic, but it looks a bit gross. We then move into the ‘psychedelic drug trip’ portion of the video, with weird symmetrical video effects and a lot of pretty wavy images. Critics hailed this video as an iconic piece and particularly enjoyed its cinematic feel. However, we’re not quite sure we share their enthusiasm.
17) “Drunk In Love”
“Drunk In Love” has to be one of the most NSFW Beyoncé videos out there. It shows B and Jay-Z acting like they’re quite literally drunk in love: there’s a lot of writhing on the sand, grinding, and suggestive dancing. To give them credit, the two look like they’re having a lot of fun. The whole thing is shot in black and white, presumably to give it an artsy vibe, which it almost manages. However, it does sometimes cross over into the territory of over-acted ridiculousness, which is why it doesn’t make it any higher in our ranking. #surfboard.
To be honest, “Diva” isn’t really a Beyoncé video – it’s a Sasha Fierce video. B transforms into her badass alter-ego for this four-minute extravaganza that’s more like a mini action movie than a music video. A car explodes! Sasha waves a fan of $100 bills around! She has an army of gold-painted mannequins at her beck and call! This video could have been really, really cool. Unfortunately, the budget wasn’t enough to cope with such extensive effects. The explosion isn’t the greatest visually, the camera work is a bit irritating, and the mannequins look like second-hand C3PO dolls. It’s all a bit of a mess.
15) “Best Thing I Never Had”
“Best Thing I Never Had” is one of those songs that we can all relate to. Pretty much everyone has that person that they’re actually glad got away – dating them would probably have left us with a lot of regrets. Well, in this video Beyoncé has plenty of reason to be glad she left her ex: she’s marrying the man of her dreams! It’s actually a really sweet video that creates a lot of wedding envy in the viewer. Also, the dress makes B look like a literal queen. I’m not saying I shed a tear when she walked down the aisle… Okay, I totally did.
14) “Crazy In Love”
What an absolute classic this music video is. “Crazy In Love” is iconic for a whole host of reasons. It was the first song to be released from Beyoncé’s first solo studio album, Dangerously In Love. It was her first collaboration with future husband, Jay-Z. It’s been voted the best song of the 2000’s by VH1, and won two Grammy awards. And that’s all without considering its truly excellent music video. The dance moves are unforgettable, and Queen B’s legs are basically never-ending. It’s only so far down this list because of the questionable 2000’s fashion choices involved.
Okay, okay, I know this technically isn’t a Beyoncé video, but it might as well be. This nine-minute-long piece of art features Lady Gaga and Queen B acting out some kind of Thelma and Louise-style situation, and frankly, we still live for it. The two poison a ton of people, throw some killer dance routines in there (pun totally intended), and generally go around being boss ass bitches. What more could you want from one video? It was a pop culture event upon its 2010 release, and had a cliffhanger that left us gagging for more B-and-Gaga action. Did they escape the cops or not? We need to know!
Are you ready to go full feminist? Frankly, if the subject matter was the only factor this list was ranked on, “***Flawless” would be top. While the video is okay, it’s a bit too disjointed to appear any higher up. Apparently, the video’s directors weren’t initially happy with the finished product: it didn’t include a dance scene that would have everyone hooked. They went back and reshot the dance that appears in the final cut, and kind of shoved it in among their original scenes. Problem is, you can kind of tell that’s what happened. In my view, at least, the dancing seems a tad random. Still, it’s a solid effort!
11) “Love On Top”
Okay, HERE is a Beyoncé video that does dancing well. “Love On Top” is a catchy as hell tune that has an appropriately fun and peppy video. Let’s be real: we’ve all attempted to recreate that routine at some point in our lives, whether sober or otherwise. B based the video’s choreography on that of The Temptations and The Jackson 5; the result is slick, cheery, and perfectly synchronized steps. The only disappointing part of the video is that it omits the second verse of the song, which we think is a travesty. Justice for verse two! It deserved to be included!
“Sorry” was the song that really set the tone of Beyoncé’s latest visual album Lemonade. It’s so (deservedly) harsh that I still wince whenever I hear it. It was the first musical suggestion we got that Jay-Z hadn’t been entirely faithful while married to B, and was consequently a pretty cutting track. The music video is an ode to the strength of women, specifically women of color. It features Serena Williams being an utter boss, and even includes an icy spoken-word segment. “What are you gonna say at my funeral, now that you’ve killed me?” OUCH. Still waiting on the infamous Becky With The Good Hair reveal.
The video for B’s smash hit single “Halo” has almost a dreamlike quality to it. Its soft romanticism is a breath of fresh air and perfectly matches this beautiful song. Beyoncé looks positively ethereal in her floating white dress, and her chemistry with love interest Michael Ealy is undeniable. The video wasn’t always going to be so wholesome and pure, though. An alternative version that emerged online in 2010 shows Ealy’s character possessing a large amount of stolen money and eventually being ravaged by police dogs. We’re kinda glad that didn’t make it into the final cut.
8) “If I Were A Boy”
The gender-bending video for “If I Were A Boy” fully deserves its place in the top ten of our ranking. It’s pretty emotional, for starters: you end up feeling pretty sorry for Beyoncé’s character (when you work out it’s actually her that’s suffering). It was shot at the same time as the “Single Ladies” video (more on that later) and consequently shares its black-and-white style. The twist at the end is heart-wrenching, and I still kind of want to yell at B’s on-screen husband for taking her for granted. Sure, some of the acting is a bit hammy, but it’s totally forgivable in this case.
7) “Run The World (Girls)”
If there’s one music video in this world that perfectly encapsulates “girl power,” this is it. It’s more than just an ode to strong women: it’s a bold statement of the fact we’re here to stay. Nobody’s going to walk all over us: we run our own worlds. The video shows a battle between men and women that the latter obviously win, with B ripping off the male general’s badge and taking it for herself. An army of strong, often-dancing women accompany their Queen, and there’s a lot of moving around in the sand. The whole thing is just too badass for words.
6) “All Night”
In an album as angry and emotional as Lemonade, we’re glad that there’s a track like “All Night” to bring some warm, fuzzy feelings back into our love-starved lives. The video is adorable on a number of levels. It’s basically a montage of home movie clips that includes Bey and Jay-Z’s wedding footage and some impossibly cute family moments featuring Blue Ivy. Did we mention that B looks totally gorgeous? Her puffy-sleeved Southern Belle dress is pretty enviable. Add in some stunning natural scenery and you’ve basically got the ideal video. It’s also nice to see that Beyoncé is clearly happy again and that Jay-Z got his redemption.
Not only is this video visually stunning, it also makes a powerful statement regarding race politics in the USA. Despite only coming in at just under five minutes long, the video manages to squeeze in references to Hurricane Katrina; police brutality; Creole and Antebellum culture; racism; and black pride. It’s an unprecedented video that represents black Southern women in a way often unseen in pop culture. Black history from slavery to the modern day is alluded to, and Blue Ivy is seen sporting her natural afro hair. Slightly less important than the politics of the video are its incredible dance sequences. All in all, it’s a total hit.
The video for “Sandcastles” will forever be remembered as that time that B made her cheating husband Jay-Z quite literally grovel at her feet in front of the entire world. It’s one of the slower, sadder tracks on Lemonade, and documents Beyoncé’s anguish at her marriage seemingly crumbling like the titular sandcastle. The video is a surprisingly candid look at the famously private pair. Queen B is shown as being visibly upset in the aftermath of Jay’s betrayal, while her husband begs for her forgiveness. At one point, he literally kisses her feet as a sign of deference to her wishes. It’s iconic stuff. Jay-Z definitely wishes he’d never met Becky.
3) “Hold Up”
Who knew that a five-minute-long clip of Beyoncé wreaking utter havoc could be so visually effective? The “Hold Up” video sees a yellow-clad Queen B smashing up cars and numerous security cameras with a baseball bat. She looks pretty ecstatic while doing it, and it’s consequently a joy to watch. What’s wrong with a bit of criminal damage and petty vandalism when B is the perpetrator? Okay, sure, it’s still illegal, but it makes for a pretty iconic video. It also spawned Titus Burgess’s incredible parody of the vid on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, for which we are eternally grateful.
2) “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
Putting “Single Ladies” at number two? I realize it’s a bold move, and that many people would have given it the top spot. Indeed, it’s a pretty incredible video that’s gone down in cultural history. Everybody knows that dance – even if they can’t do it – and the visuals are instantly recognizable. It’s spawned numerous parodies, pastiches, and spoofs, and was even the trigger for the ongoing Kanye West vs Taylor Swift feud. The fact that “Single Ladies” was beaten by Swift’s “You Belong With Me” at the VMAs (for the Best Female Video category) led to West making his now infamous stage invasion — though B did end up winning Video of the Year (Male or Female) in the end so… LOL. But here it is again, being pipped to the number one spot! But what have we selected instead, we hear you ask? Well…
Okay, here are all of the reasons why “Countdown” deserves the top spot. Firstly, its choreography is as good as, if not better than, that of “Single Ladies”. We totally live for Beyoncé’s pixie-cut, ’60s beatnik look. The colorful visuals are stunning, and the actual counting segment is perfectly executed. It flaunted B’s pregnancy with Blue Ivy, and its fashion choices were spot on. Even more incredible is the fact that this hugely complex and intricate video took a mere five days to shoot. It’s just a masterpiece. You might not agree with me, but frankly, fight me. I will defend the “Countdown” video to the death.