Update: This list, originally published in August 2015, has been edited to reflect the ranking of the 12 new songs released on Beyoncé’s Lemonade album, as well her feature last year on Naughty Boy’s “Runnin’ (Lose It All).”
Beyoncé hasn’t given us much time for reflection lately: Since she unexpectedly released her self-titled video album on a Thursday night in December 2013 — all but reinventing the entire music industry in the process — it’s been an absolute onslaught. Singles, videos, tours, live specials, a deluxe reissue and bonus disc, more singles, more videos… the Bey Hive had been buzzing pretty much continuously for a good 18 months after the Queen’s game-changing fifth LP dropped.
But finally, at long last, quiet. Since showing up for the launch of the Hindenburg of music streaming sites and popping in for a couple of her buds‘ music videos early in the summer, it’s been mostly radio silence from Bey. It won’t last — it never does, and indeed, she’s headlining her hubby’s Made in America Festival in just a couple of weeks’ time. In the meantime, though, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the decade-and-a-half we’ve had with Beyoncé as a breakout artist, over which she’s proven to be the greatest pop star of the 21st century thus far — in other words, we’ve ranked the 176 songs that comprise her solo discography.
Needless to say, Destiny’s Child songs were not considered eligible, and we’re only talking official releases, so nothing only found on unlicensed mixtapes like Speak My Mind is game. (Sorry, “Sexy Lil Thug” fans.) Guest appearances count, though, as do duets — anything in which Beyoncé was an officially credited artist — though we only included our favorite version of each song, so no “Si Yo Fuera un Chico,” either. Check out our final list below, separating the flaws and all from the flawless, and ultimately putting a ring on our choice for Bey’s all-time greatest.
176. “Back to Black” (w/ André 3000) (The Great Gatsby OST, 2013)
175. “World Wide Woman” (B’Day Deluxe Edition, 2007)
174. “Sing a Song” (w/ The WubbGirlz) (Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: Sing a Song, 2009)