Call her Beyoncé, The Stage Slayer.
Over the last 18 years, the woman has evolved into the greatest showstopper on earth. Here’s proof.
Before Beyoncé, the road to R&B– pop diva immortality took the route of either being an incomparable singer (Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston) or entertainer (Diana Ross, Janet Jackson). But as a vocalist, dancer and all-around force of nature, B has it all, making her the greatest living performer since her role model, Michael Jackson. Indeed, when she paid tribute to the King of Pop with her costume at February’s Super Bowl, it was never more clear whose throne she’d inherited. Perhaps Beyoncé’s pal Gwyneth Paltrow put it best, telling Vogue: “When she is working on stage, she has more power than any woman I’ve ever seen. She would never say it . . . but I feel she knows with every fiber of her being that she is the best in the world at her job.” B’s inspiration? “You look in the audience,” she’s said, “and you see this little girl that was me when I was looking at Michael or Janet or Tina Turner. And there’s no way that I’m not going to give 100 percent, because I remember being that girl. And I’m still that girl.”
On April 14, 2018, Beyoncé played the first of two weekends as the headlining act of the Coachella Music Festival. Her performance on the first night was attended by 125,000 festival-goers, was immediately praised, with multiple media outlets describing it as historic. The performance became the most-tweeted-about performance of weekend one, as well as the most-watched live Coachella performance and the most-watched live performance on YouTube of all time. The show paid tribute to black culture, specifically historically black colleges and universities and featured a live band with over 100 dancers. Destiny’s Child also reunited during the show.
2011 BILLBOARD AWARDS
Since she’d be receiving Billboard’s Millennium Award, B had to produce something special for her big debut performance of “Run the World (Girls).” Mission accomplished! From a virtual battalion of Beyoncé’s to 100 real-life backup dancers, she ruled her own nation.
2008 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS
With the “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” video already a classic a month after it was released, Beyoncé — rocking a leotard alongside her backup dancers — brought the clip to hand-waving life, impeccably executing the Bob Fosse–style choreography.
2006 BET AWARDS
Working the stage like a woman possessed, a svelte, midriff-baring Bey didn’t need any backup dancers or complex choreography, letting the spirit move her in one of her most unbridled performances. Even Jay Z, spitting his verse, wasn’t ready for all that she was throwing down.
2011 MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS
Impressively hitting all those high notes in “Love on Top,” she must have had a little help from Blue. Pre-performance, a glowing Bey hinted at her pregnancy, saying, “I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me”; after, she silently rubbed her bump.
Serenading the Obamas for their first dance as president and first lady at an inaugural ball, Beyoncé — who portrayed Etta James in Cadillac Records — could barely contain her pride while singing James’ “At Last.”
2016 SUPER BOWL
A day after surprise-dropping “Formation,” B — flanked by dancers dressed like Black Panthers — slayed the Super Bowl again. Despite some critics calling her performance antipolice, the only crime was the way she heisted the attention from Coldplay, Bruno Mars and that little game.
2009 GRAMMY AWARDS
Leading an army of male riot police, Bey marched on stage, grabbed her crotch and attacked “If I Were a Boy.” But that’s not all: Backed by her all-female band, she then tore into Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” with a hair-whipping vengeance.
2014 MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS
She took over the show with a 16-minute medley from her self-titled ’13 album, seamlessly shifting between songs. Her reward: receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from Jay and Blue.
2004 GRAMMY AWARDS
When Beyoncé sashayed out to join Prince for an unforgettable Grammy opener, featuring “Purple Rain,” “Baby I’m a Star,” “Crazy in Love” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” she held her own beside the late legend. Unleashing her inner Tina Turner, our queen proved she was pop royalty in her own right.