The 1990s is arguably defined as thee decade that gave rise to generation defining music genres, individuals and groups. However, the 90s was also cluttered with an over abundance of boy bands and girl groups clamoring for chart spots and the allowances or hard-earned (and scant) teen/college kid dollars.
As a cynical gen Xer with many cassette and CD singles by several one-hit wonder groups, I regarded Destiny’s Child’s arrival on the music scene with contradictory, aloof interest. Everywhere I went, someone was playing or debating which version of No, No, No was better - Part I or Part II. No matter which version was preferred, many (if not all) agreed that the girl named Beyoncé was the best in the group and their self-titled album was going to be a big deal.
Yet in my mind, it was still a quartet, and if the rise and dissolution of girl groups has taught me anything, it’s that girl quartets don’t make it. And, just like my detached interest, I was paradoxically right and wrong. Indeed, the group broke up after several multiplatinum albums, award nominations, and their Destiny Fulfilled with American Music and Billboard wins for Favorite Soul/R&B group, Favorite Soul R&B Album, Artist Achievement Award, and Best R&B/Hip Hop Group respectively. These wins, buoyed by Beyoncé’s songwriting and vocals, prophesied the music, cinematic and fashion icon she is and will continue to be.
In celebration of the 40th birthday of Queen Bey, here are 10 top picks that lend credence to the unrelenting adoration of the Beyhive:
Destiny Fulfilled, the fifth (and final) album from the last iteration of the group as a trio, features the Grammy Award nominated single Lose My Breath.
Beyoncé stars as Carmen in this remake of the classic opera about jealousy, betrayal and tragedy.
Dangerously in Love, the first of many platinum, chart-topping albums, features the perennial karaoke favorite/chart toping single Crazy in Love (with husband and mogul Jay-Z).
Beyoncé stars as Deena, the lead singer of the Dreams, in the movie Dreamgirls, based on the critically acclaimed 1980s Broadway play.
The second album from Queen Bey, B'day features multiple chart topping domestic singles (Irreplaceable, De Ja Vu ), an international best seller (Beautiful Liar, featuring Shakira) and an often emulated dance favorite, Get Me Bodied.
Loosely based on Chicago’s Chess Records, Cadillac Records is the story of Lenard Chess, credited with introducing the world to blues legends Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Chuck Berry and Etta James. Beyoncé ’s iconic turn as singer Etta James earned the film a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B vocal award for her rendition of “At Last” (and an invitation to perform it at inaugural ball of President Barack Obama).
Beyoncé’s alter ego is presented on this Grammy award winning double disc CD, I Am-- Sasha Fierce, which includes the often parodied Single Ladies, Diva and If I Were a Boy.
The fourth studio album, simply titled 4, includes the girl empowerment anthem Run the World (Girls).
This documentary centered on the life of Beyoncé includes her performances from Live in Atlantic City.
Widely regarded as Black Feminist art and spawning various reading lists and "think pieces," Lemonade (the 6th album and accompanying film) is often praised and analyzed for its lyrical content and stunning imagery.
Cheers to a career that has lasted more than half of her lifetime and to the diva who has “since 15 in stilettos been struttin' in this game.” Happy 40th, Queen Bey!
Which Queen Bey album or movie made you a fan?