From Crazy in Love to Break My Soul: Every Beyoncé lead single ranked from worst to best
This ranking was impossible and I need you to know that
Break My Soul is here, the the Beynaissance is upon us as Renaissance the album etches ever closer. And everyone is obsessed, naturally. It’s anthemic and familiar yet fresh – and has the entire world in an all consuming Beyoncé era once again. That’s exactly what lead singles should do, and with Break My Soul arriving I don’t know a better time than to look back over all Queen Bey’s album leads. Here are all nine Beyoncé lead singles ranked from worst to best.
9. If I Were A Boy
I Am Sasha Fierce got two lead singles, a ballad and a banger. If I Were A Boy is the former, and it’s a Bey ballad of the ilk that she was churning out in the mid 00s. Whilst it was a huge hit, besides Beyoncé’s huge vocals and star power, there’s nothing absurdly exceptional about this one. She didn’t have a hand in writing this one, it was penned by artist BC Jean who wanted to release it herself. She wasn’t happy about Bey releasing it, even though they reached an agreement originally.
If I Were A Boy just feels a bit too much like anybody could have recorded it, and Beyoncé is far too iconic for that.
8. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)
If this was a ranking of music videos, Single Ladies would clean up. It’s black and white dance video is legendary, the choreography imitated around the globe to this day every time it comes on in any club, any wedding, any school disco. Any funeral! But the song itself? Okay, it bops. But does it truly make me ascend? No, not really. It’s a good time, but it’s never quite a great time. A hugely well known and iconic moment for her career, but the music itself doesn’t hit as hard as it should.
Let it be known that the rest of the seven Beyoncé lead singles to be ranked here are all excellent. XO, released as a double a-side lead single alongside one still to come on this list, is a shimmering and electronic power pop moment the feels as spacey and huge as the NASA sample it uses at the start.
6. Run the World (Girls)
The Pokémon evolution of Single Ladies – all snarls, all bite, all bark. Beyoncé sounds so powerful on this anthem that it’s a lot to take in, but it’s a call to arms. Its heavy sampling of Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor made that instrumentation one of the most instantly recognisable in the music industry.
5. Break My Soul
I saw a few titters that the house sample of Show Me Love on Break My Soul was derivative or lazy, and I don’t know what those people are listening to because this is a move that is fresh. The sample here isn’t lazy, it’s a smart and entrancing way of crating something new that feels familiar. It’s a work to live and don’t live to work anthem. It’s Beyoncé advocating for a four day week!
There’s something effortlessly cool about Break My Soul, and Beyoncé leading in her new era with this restrained but fun approach proves why she’s such an innovator.
4. Déjà Vu
Déjà Vu, to this day, oozes an effortless coolness. I love everything about it. The way Bey casually introduces the instruments at the start gives me goosebumps. Jay’s verse is outstanding. The horns are euphoric. The vocals are amazing – and that final minute and a half is one of the most perfect in her discography . The pure drama and theatre with which she belts out the final chorus is just outstanding.
3. Drunk in Love
Erm, wow. The surprise drop of 2013’s BEYONCÉ gave us two lead singles, XO and the superior Drunk in Love. I love the evolution from being Crazy in Love to being Drunk in Love. This song really does feel woozy in the best way, it makes you want to hang off your partner in the club on that perfect level of waved, where you’re looking at each other amongst the sweat and the music and see only them. It’s got such a special and cathartic energy to it that’s hard to be topped. Unless, of course, you’re Beyoncé.
2. Crazy in Love
Quite simply one of the best songs ever recorded. No dance floor has ever been the same. I don’t know any song with an intro that makes the world do a euphoric descent into boogying quite like it. And to think this is her debut single? Oh, come on darling. Not many could do it, not many will ever do it. If Beyoncé was a TV show, Crazy in Love would be her theme tune.
If Crazy in Love changed the music industry forever, Formation changed the world. It is a song which is equal parts celebration and protest, and it’s a celebration of Southern Black culture that has impacted the world in endless ways. Its lyrics are quoted daily, and the namedropping of Red Lobster caused their sales to go up by 33 per cent. That is wild. It’s become a Black Lives Matter anthem – and it stands head and shoulders above the rest of Beyoncé’s impeccable catalogue as the most definitive song in her catalogue, a track that defines everything she stands for as an artist. It is resilient and celebratory in equal measure.
Rolling Stone ranked it as the 73rd greatest song of all time, but The Tab ranked it as the best of all the Beyoncé lead singles AND the best Bey song ever. So take that, RS!
Stream Break My Soul – the newly released and the fifth best ranked Beyoncé lead singles – here.
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