As of this month, Beyoncé is now one of just a handful of musicians who have scored double-digit No. 1 singles, and somehow it feels like that's a club she should have entered years ago. She has Ed Sheeran to thank for her tenth chart-topping single, and the two powerful singers are currently still on top with their "Perfect" collaboration.
With so many No. 1s to her credit, now seems like the perfect time to look back at which ones hold as some of her best, and which ones lag behind.
Beyoncé’s most recent No. 1, and her first in almost a decade, “Perfect,” or, “Perfect Duet,” as it’s known when she’s involved, returns the Queen to her throne. That is an accomplishment worth celebrating, even if the track she did so with isn’t her best. Sheeran has a knack for penning overly sappy love songs, and Bey hopped on this one with a new verse and some harmonies just as it looked like it was going to own the singles chart anyway. It’s her worst No. 1, but it’s still a No. 1, and those have been hard to come by for Beyoncé for a while now.
The superstar singer’s second solo album was clearly crafted to take her to the next level (at some point there can’t be any more levels, right?), and songs like “Beautiful Liar” and “Irreplaceable” feel as if they were made to become standards that will last decades and appeal to every person on the planet. This No. 1 managed its goals, and though not all contemporary music fans love the song, it’s impossible to argue its power and global popularity.
Technically a Beyoncé song, the track was included on Destiny’s Child’s #1’s compilation, which helped wrap their time together nicely. While the collection contained most of the singles they had released as a group over the years, they also recorded a few new tunes, and Bey took the reigns for “Check On It,” which was the only successful new piece of music from the album.
After Beyoncé’s first single on her own (“Crazy In Love”) gave her a solo champion in addition to the ones she racked up with Destiny’s Child, many assumed things were off and running and that the next few singles would likely perform well in the wake of a No. 1...and they were right. Her second proper cut on her own, “Baby Boy,” also made it to the top, giving her and featured artist Sean Paul another reason to celebrate.
When “Bills, Bills, Bills” was released way back in 1999, the group needed it to become a hit. Destiny’s Child was already one album into their career, and their first full-length had only produced one successful tune. Many record labels judge how much to invest in an act based on how the sophomore album performs, and thankfully, The Writing’s on the Wall was huge. Lead single “Bills, Bills, Bills” gave them their first of several No. 1 singles, and it proved that they were here to stay.
Originally created for the film Charlie’s Angels, “Independent Women, Part 1” was the rare song from a movie that ended up translating to traditional musical mediums as well. The song rose all the way to the top of the Hot 100, granting the group yet another leader (it was their third), and it was so massive, they ended up holding onto it for their third album Survivor. How this didn't earn Beyoncé and company an Academy Award nomination remains a mystery to this day.
Is it silly? Yes. Is bootylicious a completely made up word? Sure. Is everything about this song great? Absolutely. D.C.’s last No. 1 together, “Bootylicious” was so overplayed and it saturated pop culture so deep, the fake phrase ended up becoming a real word, as people immediately adapted it into their vernacular. In the hands of any other group, this might have come off as a throwaway gag track, but with Destiny's Child, it was a powerful chart-topper.
There may be an argument to be made about whether Beyoncé’s I Am… Sasha Fierce album is her best critically, but it is her most successful era, and a big part of that is the monster hit that was “Single Ladies.” The song is good enough to stand on its own, and it likely would have rocketed to No. 1 even if she had never released a music video, but the Bob Fosse-inspired choreography and simple black leotards took the tune to another level, and millions still know exactly how and when to move their hands along with the track.
By the time “Say My Name” rolled around, Destiny's Child was already a successful girl group, though they still had to prove that they were the type of act that had staying power. The lead single from the female singing troupe’s sophomore album The Writing’s on the Wall remains a powerful anthem for those who suspect their partners are cheating. While it’s now approaching its twentieth birthday, it is still greeted warmly whenever those memorable first few notes come on the radio or plays in a club.
Whenever a musician breaks off from a group and announces a solo career, there is a lot riding on the first single. That was certainly the case with Beyoncé, who hadn’t broken up Destiny’s Child yet, but who had made her solo ambitions known. So many singers have failed when it comes to embarking on their own, but Queen Bey nailed it with lead Dangerously in Love single “Crazy In Love." It was a smash from the moment it arrived. The horn-filled production on the track, which features then-future husband Jay-Z, would overshadow most people—but definitely not Beyoncé.
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