Let's get one thing straight: There is no bad Beyoncé video.
Since embarking on her solo career with the release of Dangerously in Love in 2003, the former Destiny's Child frontwoman hasn't let up on the eye-popping visuals to go along with her steady stream of hits, always making sure she's upping the ante in the process. After all, this is the woman who changed the game with that digital drop—the surprise self-titled 2013 album that already had music videos filmed under an impressive cloak of secrecy.
Over the years, her artistry has graduated from mere music videos to feature-length films, like Lemonade in 2016 and Black Is King in 2020, leaving fans with an overwhelmingly excellent collection of aural artwork to revel in (and her contemporaries struggling to keep up). And so, when one tries to rank her many clips, it's like splitting hairs to separate the incredible from the merely outstanding. Trust us, we know from experience.
In honor of the game-changing self-titled album's seventh anniversary on Dec. 13, we thought we'd count down the 10 best visuals from her videography and take on the Herculean task of deciding which one reigns supreme. Call us crazy in love.
Every modern pop star needs their Madonna-referencing moment. On the video for this deep cut off 2013's Beyoncé, she reunited with "Telephone" director Jonas Åkerlund and achieved just that: a spooky and sexy clip that more than lives up to its name while also giving us shades of Madge's "Erotica."
9. "Run the World (Girls)"
Bey worked with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence on this video for the lead single off 2011's 4. And while he certainly delivered on the quasi-dystopian visual, the headline here is the star's athleticism in the heavily choreographed and fiercely feminist clip. Our shoulders are sore just watching her.
Lifted directly from Black Is King and blessedly released as a standalone video, this clip for the track off 2019's The Lion King: The Gift (featuring Ghanaian singer Shatta Wale and Major Lazer) is a visual feast. From the choreography to the styling to the arresting use of color throughout, there's so much to take in here that this one practically demands repeat viewing. Not that you weren't doing that already. But, just saying.
Bey co-directed the video for this song off 4 alongside Adria Petty, developing a visual that pays homage to several icons of pop culture past—most notably Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. The way the clip plays with color, letting the hues bounce and change with the beat of the effervescent track, makes for a supremely satisfying watch. And when you realize that Bey was very pregnant with first daughter Blue while filming—keep your eyes peeled for the bump!—it's all the more impressive.
6. "Hold Up"
Bey reunited with Åkerland for this section of Lemonade and, co-directing alongside him, the two delivered some instantly iconic imagery. You didn't even need to have watched the film's premiere on HBO to immediately recognize the yellow dress and baseball bat. The clip is deceptively simple—and wisely so—allowing Bey to sell the unbridled anger of a woman scorned in its purest, window-smashing form.
5. "Why Don't You Love Me"
Directing under the alias Bee-Z, Bey teamed with frequent collaborator Melina Matsoukas on the video for this track off the deluxe version of 2008's I Am... Sasha Fierce. Referencing the pin-up stylings of Bettie Page, the melodramatic clip works perfectly with the retro feel of the disco-inspired dance track. Released in 2010 shortly after Bey's collab with Lady Gaga on "Telephone," this period feels like our queen breaking free from the constraints of a career controlled by others and finally just having some fun.
4. "Get Me Bodied (Extended Mix)"
What's not to love about the Anthony Mandler-directed video for this track off 2006's B'Day? It's fabulous AF, it's funny ("Who is it? Who is it?!"), it's inspired by some of Bob Fosse's best choreography from Sweet Charity, and it's got cameos from Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Solange Knowles. Can't ask for much more.
3. "Crazy In Love"
Ah, the one that started it all. Bey worked with director Jake Nava on the video for her debut solo single off Dangerously in Love, and though it seems charmingly simplistic in the face of all she's done since, we still feel those celebratory horns deep under our skin the second we see her start stomping down that street. What a moment.
2. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"
Bey reunited with Nava on the video for this smash hit off I Am... Sasha Fierce, returning to Fosse for inspiration yet again. (It's "Mexican Breakfast" that's referenced this time around.) There isn't a person on the planet who doesn't know at least a piece of the choreography from this iconic black-and-white clip, as evidenced by every wedding reception ever.
From the very first shot of Bey standing atop a cop car partially submerged in floodwater as a voice implores "What happened in New Orleans," it was clear that this video was going to be something different. With Matsoukas behind the camera, this clip for the lead single off Lemonade saw Bey unapologetically celebrating Black culture in a way she never had before while tackling thorny issues like police brutality and racism. Each shot is more glorious and audacious than the last, delivering an end result that's both a love letter to NOLA and her people and the final awakening of an artist. Simply put, it's perfect.
Now who's ready for some Red Lobster?
(Originally published on Sept. 4, 2020, at 9:41 a.m. PST.)