Beyoncé was already renowned for her incredible work ethic in the beginning of her solo career, but she really pushed what it means to be a true artist with B'Day. Instead of enjoying a vacation after filming 2006's Dreamgirls, the singer decided to hit the studio hard to record, in three mere weeks, 10 empowering tracks flooded with funky sounds from the '70s and '80s. Don't let its brevity fool you: B'Day is a compact adventure that remains one of Beyoncé's most fun projects to date—and she has the Best Contemporary R&B Album GRAMMY to prove it.
Let's get into our personal rankings of every song on the album.
Bianca Gracie, Associate Writer: "Irreplaceable" dominating the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks, its GRAMMY nod—neither was enough to make me fall in love with this song. Despite it being one of Bey's signature tour tracks, the mid-tempo ballad is one of her weaker singles in an extensive discography. It's probably because, like "Halo," she's run it into the ground so hard that I've gotten bored with it. But I do love the message of "Boy, bye" even before Lemonade's "Sorry" existed. Rating: 5.5/10
Zach Dionne, News Editor: 4/10
Mark Sundstrom, Senior Web Producer: 8.5/10
Amissa Pitter, Content Manager: 9/10
Bianca: This track was released in December 2005 as part of the Pink Panther soundtrack, but its sassiness made it a perfect fit on B'Day almost a year later. Bun B and Slim Thug provide that woozy Houston swag that's a foil for Bey's sugary-sweet vocals. Plus, I can't get enough of the catchy booty-popping beat! Rating: 7.5/10
Bianca Gracie: Along with being one of my favorite visuals on B'Day, "Kitty Kat" is also one of Bey's most overlooked tracks in the midst of her grand discography. Produced by The Neptunes, the brilliantly cheeky song is about Beyoncé's man neglecting her body—specifically her kitty. Its subdued yet sensual lyrics like "I'm taking back the things I got from you, you / And that includes my sweet little nooky too, too" always remain a highlight. Rating: 8.5/10
Bianca Gracie: "Green Light" finds Bey channeling her inner funk queen, thanks to more production from The Neptunes. It teases you by kicking off very smooth and minimal, but the chorus comes crashing in with a pounding bass line and sharp brass notes. The theme of B'Day is about female empowerment, and Bey smartly uses the idea traffic lights to represent a relationship. If you haven't watched the accompanying video for "Green Light," you're missing out on one of the singer's most stunning visuals to date. It features nods to Robert Palmer, Vanity 6 and more. And can we talk about how effortlessly she hits those runs in her upper register? ***Flawless, indeed. Rating: 7/10
Mark: “Suga Mama” is one of two songs produced by Rich Harrison for B’Day (the other being “Freakum Dress”) and, in my opinion, the stronger of the pair. The song has stood the test of time slightly better than “Freakum,” too. Beyoncé flipping the script and imagining herself as the one in the relationship taking care of a man financially is not only totally plausible (although we know it's not reality since she’s married to Jay Z), but also falls in line with a message and identity she’s continued to echo in her music since. The fact is, regardless of all that, the song is just a freakin’ bop! Rating: 10/10
Bianca: "Freakum Dress" remains one of my favorite Bey tracks because it has "let's get turnt up at the club!" written all over it. It's a middle finger to no-good men and inspired women everywhere to show off their glorious curves to taunt wandering eyes. Rich Harrison's production, filled with crashing cymbals, wild hi-hats and whistles, make it all the more fun to sing along with. Rating: 9.5/10
Bianca: As soon as you heard the "9/4/81, B'Day" intro to "Get Me Bodied" drop at the club, you knew it was about to be popping! Bey collaborated with Swizz Beatz for this incredibly fun track that is a party mix of handclaps, "Hey!" chants, syncopation and soaring vocals. Don't know how to dance? Bey's got you! The extended version of this song features vogue-worthy dance moves like Pat Your Weave, Pose for the Camera, Drop Down Low and more. As for my favorite mission? Number six: "Gotta check these chicks / Cause you know they gon' block when I take these flicks." Hey! Rating: 8.5/10
Mark: I will argue till the day I take my final breath that “Déjà Vu” is one of Beyoncé’s best songs in her entire catalogue. It may not have been the smash No. 1 hit lead single people were expecting, but honestly I don’t care (and neither does the BeyHive). I think the issue was “Déjà Vu” wasn’t what mainstream/casual Bey fans expected sonically, especially coming off the traditional R&B sound of most of her huge solo debut album Dangerously in Love. Hubby Jay Z getting two impressive guest verses (the second being one of his most well-known guest spots ever) definitely adds bonus points. The way the power couple rode the Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins beat was perfect. Plus, the funky bass line and those live horns?! Flaw. Free. Rating: 10/10
Bianca: "Yeaaaaa, Bey!" Swizz Beatz returns for this braggadocio, bounce-inspired single that is no doubt one of Bey and Jay's best collaborations. It displays their effortless chemistry and gives insight on how they complement each other's luxury-filled lifestyles. The video for "Upgrade U" is also a fun look at what Beyoncé would look like as a swagged-out Jigga. Rating: 9/10
Mark: I still remember the very first time I heard “Ring the Alarm.” I think most fans do. It was an extremely unexpected sound for Queen Bey. I remember initially thinking “Why is Beyoncé screaming at me? No.” I was an idiot, because this is now one of my favorites off B’Day. Regardless of your personal feelings about the song, consider the balls it took to release “Alarm” as the album’s second single after “Déjà Vu” underperformed (solely compared to Bey’s track record up to that point). The song allowed her to show the world a new, not-so-picture-perfect side to her persona, and I think that endeared fans, both old and new, in a special way. Rating: 8/10
Mark: “Resentment” is the only ballad on the standard edition of B’Day, and for good reason. It’s widely known the song was originally recorded by Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, and then Jazmine Sullivan for her unreleased debut project, and both versions are floating around the Web, but it’s Bey’s version I consider my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, Jazmine is one of my favorite voices in music today, but the way Beyoncé sang “Resentment” with such conviction brings the song to life. The live version is even more chill-inducing. Rating: 9/10