Happy birthday, Beyonce! I know it’s generally your “Bday” year round but today you actually turn 31. It’s kind of crazy. Does that seem super young to anyone else? I feel like Beyonce’s been in our lives forever.
She’s so larger than life and iconic — just a queen of pop music. Like I said in a Tweet recently, “There are two levels of drunk: tipsy and ‘yelling about Beyonce.'” I try to bring her up in sober conversation as often as possible too. There’s never a wrong time to talk about Beyonce.
These videos are in no particular order. They’re just ones I love and feel affectionate nostalgia for. BOW DOWN BEFORE QUEEN B.
1. “Say My Name”
I remember seeing this on MTV when I was in middle school and thinking it was the coolest, most visually appealing video ever. I could not understand how they pulled off the different rooms. Plus, it felt empowering to see these women making demands for respect. Look at that random extra member of Destiny’s Child. I forgot about her! I bet she’s super mad it’s B’s birthday. Bummer.
2. “Bills, Bills, Bills”
God, I wore this CD out. I had to get two copies — one for the car and one for my room, that’s how much I played it. I still think about this song when a dude starts triflin’. (Hey other two girls who used to be in DC! You’re back!) Their outfits here are crazy and Kelly Rowland’s blue ‘do is killing me.
My friend Alex and I printed out these lyrics in middle school and spent a week trying to memorize them. Whenever a friend goes through a break up, I put this on a mix I make for them. Next to Xtina’s “Fighter,” has there ever been a better pump-up feminist break up anthem? This video, with the camo and the ripped dresses, is fantastic too. I remember thinking, “I’m not gonna diss you on the internet” was a particularly modern lyric. LOL.
Diva is the female version of a hustler, and Beyonce is certainly a diva. Those fringe glasses, her robot-y dresses, and her badass metal glove — it’s unmistakable that’s she’s Jay-Z’s girl and I mean that in the best way possible. Has there ever been a more perfect couple? They make so much sense. (I might prefer this dance to the one in “Single Ladies” too. Is that bad?)
5. “Single Ladies”
Ah, I take that back. This dance is freakin’ stellar. Kanye had the right idea, man. This is one of the best videos of all time. Of all time!
This video is mostly just hilarious. Their outfits, the whole concept of the song, the sheer early ’00s-ness of it all. God, we LOVED bright colors and weird clothes, huh? Plus, anyone else hear “Edge of Seventeen” and immediately start with, “Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this?” while everyone else stares at you with judgement eyes? Nope. Me neither.
7. “Crazy In Love”
Put this song on at a party and it’s all over. No one hates this song. Guys, girls, aliens, dogs — everyone loses their minds when “Crazy In Love” comes on. Girlfriend looks FLAWLESS in this video too. Can she and Jay-Z just…adopt me like they have Kanye West? Hoarding all this perfection so isn’t fair.
I like this video because it’s a more stripped down, relaxed look at Beyonce. She’s hardly wearing any make up in it and she looks beautiful. Have you heard her sing this acoustic? If you doubt that Beyonce can sing, you need to shut up and watch that video. Her pipes are golden.
9. “Why Don’t You Love Me?”
I love this song, but more than that I adore the video for “Why Don’t You Love Me?” She looks gorgeous in the ’60s, Mad Men style, and I like the grainy way it’s shot. The props, the hair, the make up, the clothes — it’s all working. I wish I could pull off these looks. Why don’t people dress like this anymore? She’s simultaneously stunning and adorable in this video.
Beyonce is mad pregnant in parts of this video and she’s still dancing like she was born with those moves. I really like the look of this one too. She is so pretty, guys. Have I mentioned that yet?
She legit wears curlers for most of this video and somehow still looks killer. She is dressed like a mom going to Wal-mart and she is still more beautiful than any of us will ever be. Jeez. “Irreplaceable” is also a choice break up tune. Instead of lamenting the end of the relationship, it’s good for when you need to feel like you’re making the right choice. To the left, to the left.
12. “Best Thing I Never Had”
The quintessential “wedding” music video that every pop diva needs to make at some point. This is a sassy, awesome Beyonce calling out some dude’s BS. Her facial expressions throughout this video are so on point. B will not stand for your nonsense. Perfect.
13. “Run The World” (Girls)
I was on the fence about this song because it heavily samples this great Major Lazer song called “Pon de Floor” almost to the point of stealing it but everyone flailed all over this video so it deserves a spot. There is a lion in the video. There’s some great dancing. Plus, it’s a song I’m happy she made because so many little girls look up to her. So ultimately, it goes in the win column. (I’m sorry Major Lazer! Your version is more fun but you know, let’s all get along.)
14. “Love On Top”
I have no idea what’s happening here. She’s wearing a leotard and a sailor cap? There’s a boyband behind her? They’re at some kind of pavilion in the sky? Then, they turn into the Temptations and magicians? I think their outfits change when the key does? I don’t honestly know. Who cares?
I remember the internet almost shutting down waiting for this video to be released. Beyonce gets sucked into Gaga’s weirdo world and it mostly works out pretty well and Tarantino-y. Cigarette glasses. The crazy obvious product placement. Their whole stilted conversation in the car about burgers and mirrors and trust. Then they poison everyone? Oof. Beyonce fell down a Gaga rabbit hole and took a bath in it. For better or worse, it’s certainly worth noting.
16. “Flaws and All”
Back to stripped down Beyonce. She’s just herself in this video — black and white, grainy footage and she’s adjusting her dress, smiling, covering her face. It looks like video Jay-Z maybe took of her at home. It’s intimate and sweet. She’s not some diva or queen B here — she’s just Beyonce Knowles.
Happy birthday, girl! Thanks for all the music, fashion and emotions. Thanks for making me dance and getting me through break ups and blowing my young mind. You are irreplaceable.