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Who slays performances as hard as Beyoncé? No one! Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down the "Top 10 Beyoncé Musical Performances."
For this list, we’re looking at Beyonce’s live performances at events like award shows. We’re only counting performances from her solo career as well.
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56th Annual Grammy Awards
As the show opener, Beyoncé came ready to give the audience something they’d never forget. Beyoncé started off the show seated as she sang “Drunk in Love.” Instead of standing up, Beyoncé performed a sexy chair routine with only smoke and a pretty light show to spotlight her. What was great about this performance is Beyoncé’s utter confidence and ability to own her sexuality. Without anyone backing her, she commanded the stage with her vocals and dance moves until Jay-Z came to perform his verse. They showed the world that their marriage is something to envy because no other couple can kill a performance in the same way they can.
Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life—An All-Star Grammy Salute
When the Grammys threw a tribute for Stevie Wonder, there was no way it would be complete without a performance by Beyoncé. She opened the show with “Fingertips,” Stevie’s first number one, and got the crowd pumped up with her call-and-response rendition. Not one afraid to share the spotlight, Beyonce brought out Ed Sheeran to jam on the reggae soul classic “Master Blaster;” her and Ed made a dynamic duo as he played guitar and they took turns belting out the verses. Just when the performance couldn’t get any better, Gary Clark Jr. joined the two of them for a charged rendition of “Higher Power.” Her high-energy performance set the tone, and got the tribute started on all the right notes.
The 2009 Neighborhood Inaugural Ball
To perform at any presidential Inaugural Ball is an honor and with this performance at the 2009 Neighborhood Ball, Beyoncé is now on the very short list of performers who have done such a thing. The first couple took to the floor to dance to Beyoncé’s rendition of the Etta James classic, “At Last.” Her vocals were stunning, and brought warmth to the room that only highlighted the love between Barack and Michelle Obama. At the end of the performance, Beyoncé was choked up, moved by the honor of singing for the country’s first African American president.
52nd Annual Grammy Awards
Starting in the crowd with a group of badass soldiers behind her, Beyoncé marched up the stage to sing, “If I Were a Boy.” Beyoncé was the epitome of female power and strength, which she took to a whole new level when she broke into Alanis Morissette’s, “You Oughta Know.” The combination drove home the point that a man isn’t going to break her. It was an amazing juxtaposition of hard and soft, a combination Beyoncé has mastered like no other. The performance was also the same night she broke Grammy records by winning six awards in one night, the most of any female performer.
2014 MTV Video Music Awards—Video Vanguard Award Performance
The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award can be considered MTV’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, Beyoncé was the recipient of this honor, which comes as no surprise since she’s been on our screens since she was a teen. To celebrate her achievement, Beyoncé did a stunning 16-minute performance of 12 songs from her self-titled album including, “Mine,” “Drunk in Love,” “Flawless,” and “Partition.” The visuals from the performance gave new life to the album with each song getting a different lighting, choreography, and feel, so it was like watching something new with each song. The icing on the cake was Beyoncé receiving the award from Jay-Z and her daughter, Blue Ivy.
2011 Billboard Music Awards
As the first recipient of the Billboard Millennium Award, Beyoncé proved that she was the right person to give it to. She took the opportunity to turn what could have been a run-of-the-mill award show performance into a feminist statement by performing her anthemic “Run the World (Girls).” Instead of a traditional song and dance routine, Beyoncé performed the first half of her routine with perfectly timed digital images behind her, making a cool visual effect. When her backup dancers did accompany her, every move matched the ferocity in her voice.
Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show
Backed by an all-female band, Beyoncé made sure that her Super Bowl performance was something everyone would talk about for days. She literally starts it off with fire, and a sparking guitar as she sang a medley of her hits. To wow us all, she brought out former Destiny’s Child group mates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, who sang “Bootylicious,” and “Independent Women Part One” with her. The trio also danced to “Single Ladies” before Beyoncé continued as a solo act. To finish it off, she closed with an impressive rendition of “Halo,” which was backed by fireworks.
2016 BET Awards
Beyoncé’s known for her surprise album drops, so why not her surprise performances, too? No one expected for Queen Bey to open the show; and she not only opened it, but also made it the highlight of the whole award ceremony. To start with, she performed to a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech while doing a choreographed dance routine in a shallow pool. She made it clear that this performance was to uplift the black community and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, which only became more evident when Kendrick Lamar appeared to do his verse in “Freedom.” Politically charged and powerful, it’s a performance that won’t be forgotten.
2011 MTV Video Music Awards
With pregnancy rumors swirling for quite some time, Beyoncé decided to make her pregnancy announcement in only the way she can: Drop it during a live performance. Despite having a highly choreographed routine, Beyoncé was able to hit all her marks and reveal her baby bump while she sang, “Love on Top.” Just to make sure she was clear, she told the audience, “Tonight, I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me.” Everyone was ecstatic, and in the crowd Kanye freaked out with Jay-Z, along with Lady Gaga in her Jo Calderone persona! Beyoncé’s announcement was so powerful, it broke Twitter with a record 8,868 tweets per second, the most ever recorded for an event.
Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- 2006 MTV Video Music Awards
- Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
- 2011 Live at Roseland
2016 MTV Video Music Awards
Over the last few years, Beyoncé has really come into her own as an artist and woman, and this performance is the epitome of that. Introduced by Serena Williams, Beyoncé performed a medley of songs from Lemonade including “Pray You Catch Me,” “Hold Up,” “Sorry,” and “Formation." She ruled the stage for 15 minutes, and was able to include a clear political statement in her support of the Black Lives Matter movement at the top. From there, she took audiences on a journey of heartache, pain, forgiveness, and community to give the message that we can’t be broken.
Do you agree with our list? Which Beyoncé performance slayed you? For more flawless Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.