Beyoncé has released a strong string of solo singles since she launched her solo career in the early 2000s. As she’s grown more famous, the cultural potency of her songs have become more powerful. “Formation” and the release of her surprise, self-titled album a few years back are perfect examples of the ways the diva can turn her music into cultural moments. In honor of her latest milestone, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite Beyoncé solo songs. Here are the results.
Beyoncé’s foray into reggae and dancehall was a successful one for the singer as she collaborated with Sean Paul for a sexy, fun dance song. The R&B singer and reggae artist’s styles playfully intertwine for a track that sounds as hypnotic as the fantasies she describes throughout the verses.
Beyoncé’s “Partition” is one of the singer’s least coy songs about having sex. On the single, she’s blunt and aggressive above a throbbing bass line. Later in the song, she samples the French translation of a scene from The Big Lebowski that addresses a misconception about feminists hating sex.
Amid the edgier sounds of her surprise fifth LP, titled Beyoncé, “XO” was the purest pop track on the entire album. Above a glitchy synth beat, the singer used a controversial sample of audio recorded during the space shuttle Challenger disaster before singing a song about the loss of a loved one. The song’s melancholy message is lightened profusely by the bright sound of the song and was the most clearly radio-friendly hit from a largely risky album.
The gritty, futuristic beat of “Sweet Dreams” is one of Beyoncé’s finest moments as Sasha Fierce. The urgent, electropop groove works well with the more delicate vocal delivery she harnesses for the 2009 single. Still holding on to the funky R&B of her past, the more straightforward pop of “Sweet Dreams” (along with its more electronic elements) was a perfect preview of the sonic experimentation she explored on her next album, 4.
A break-up diss record has never been as infectiously catchy as Beyoncé’s sweetly searing “Irreplaceable.” Above the strums of an acoustic guitar, she carefully instructs her cheating, deadbeat boyfriend to move all his things “to the left, to the left.” To add salt to her ex’s wound, she even promises that his replacement is on his way as they speak.