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We pick our favorite songs to celebrate her birthday

Put on your freakum mask and take yourself to Red Lobster

On Friday, our benevolent queen Beyoncé turns 39, and what better way to celebrate than by listening to her entire catalog this long weekend? From her early days in Girl’s Tyme and Destiny’s Child, to her 15-plus-year career as a solo artist, the 24-time Grammy winner (and “Black Is King” visionary) has continued to grow and evolve, all while surprising and shaping the music industry as we know it. 

Because ranking perfection is virtually impossible, we decided to ask the USA TODAY Life team to pick some of their favorite Beyoncé songs.

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‘All Night’

Somehow, Beyoncé sounds so soothing and calm, yet empowered and independent when singing about rekindling trust after infidelity. That’s pretty hard for any artist to do, in my opinion. – Jenna Ryu

‘Black Parade’ 

Beyoncé has never shied away from her Blackness, but on “Black Parade” she marches to the beat of Black celebration, a grand marshal in the procession toward Black liberation. The infectious tune, released on Juneteenth with all proceeds benefiting her BeyGOOD Black Business Impact Fund, is a message delivered with her seemingly effortless vocals. – Anika Reed

‘Crazy In Love’ 

A cultural reset. She asked: “You ready?” We were not. A young Beyoncé stepped onto the scene in red heels, a white tank and blue short shorts and immediately cemented her place as one of the top artists in the game. She strutted into a solo career with a piece of pop perfection, hitting No. 1 on the charts, earning Grammys, topping “greatest songs of all time” lists. – Reed

‘Daddy Lessons’

Years before Lil Nas X took us to the old town road, Beyoncé was an early proponent of the Yeehaw Agenda, thanks to this sultry, country-fried barnstormer. The song kicks off with irresistible New Orleans horns, before the Houston native tips a cowboy hat to her Southern roots and father/former manager Matthew Knowles.  – Patrick Ryan

‘Diva’ 

A brazen, bass-heavy ode to money and power, this is Beyoncé at her most fun, putting a cheeky, feminist spin on traditionally male hip-hop tropes. If you never blasted this in your car with your high-school friends while hanging out in the McDonald’s parking lot, you truly haven’t lived. – Ryan

‘Drunk In Love’ 

If “Crazy In Love” was a young confession, “Drunk In Love” is a grown and sexy proclamation. Bey and (husband) Jay-Z hit their stride as the ultimate power couple and prompt everyone else to belt out the fun ferocity of their love – and they do it all while getting drunk off of expensive champagne. – Reed

‘Feeling Myself’ 

Ever feel down? Low? Not confident when you look in the mirror? Beyoncé has the fix for that. You can’t help but feel yourself on this joint track with Nicki Minaj that is a masterclass in confidence and being your own hypewoman. You, too, can “stop the world” with how good this song makes you feel. – Reed

‘Formation’ 

Do you remember where you were on that Saturday in early 2016 when Beyoncé dropped “Formation” as an unlisted video on YouTube? We had just finished eating a midday bed burrito when we saw Twitter combust with hot sauce memes and even hotter takes. It’s safe to say the world was never the same after this mic drop of an anthem, which is both a defiant statement against police brutality and a visually stunning celebration of Blackness. – Ryan

‘Freakum Dress’

We’ve all had those moments when your mans or partner just seems to have stupidly forgotten how fire you really are. It is at this moment that you put on your Freakum Dressand head out with your friends, leaving the unappreciative partner behind, lusting after you and wondering when or if you’ll be home later. Would communicating your needs as an adult have worked? Yes, but it’s much more fun to do it Beyoncé’s way. – Rasha Ali

‘Jealous’

Besides being another stunning segment in her (self-titled) visual album, the slow climb of the song helps build up the emotions she’s feeling for the listener. By the time we’re hitting the chorus, I’m ready to sing-yell at the boyfriend I don’t even have. And then she effortlessly brings it back around to empower herself with the line “Yonce filling out this skirt, I look damn good I ain’t lost it,” and I find myself feeling good about myself, too. – Sara Moniuszko

‘Halo’

There’s a reason Beyoncé won a Grammy for this song, and why its music video recently hit 1 billion views on YouTube: “Halo” showcases the performer’s legendary vocal skills and manages to be simultaneously tender, dreamy, catchy and a banger. – Carly Mallenbaum

‘Hold Up’

Yellow dress, baseball bat, fire hydrant – the most enduring image from the “Lemonade” visual album accompanies this track. The frustration in the lyrics (“What’s worse/ looking jealous or crazy?”) juxtaposed with the kicky Caribbean-esque beats and sunny melody offer one of the most powerful insights into the themes of infidelity and betrayal that run through the album. – Kelly Lawler

‘I Care (Homecoming Live)’ 

We could write a 10,000-word dissertation about Beyoncé’s next-level Coachella set. (The geniusly remixed run of songs from “Baby Boy” through “Check On It” is just … *chef’s kiss.*) Instead, we’d like to spotlight her ferociously powerful rendition of “I Care,” a drum-pummeling breakup ballad that also ranks as one of her best live performances ever. – Ryan

‘If I Were a Boy’

The gender role reversal in this video – which no doubt inspired Taylor Swift’s cross-dressing “The Man” video – points out relationship double standards in a way that’s striking and then devastating. Right after Beyoncé’s single tear falls in this video, and she sings, “But you’re just a boy, you don’t understand,” it’s hard not to have your eyes water, too. Crushing. – Mallenbaum

‘Love on Top’ 

What an infectious ball of sunshine this song is! Sometimes, you just need to take a hit of joyful Beyoncé vocals about finding bliss for your own mental health, and then you need to hear them in a higher key, and then a higher key, and then a higher key, and then … – Mallenbaum

‘Me, Myself and I’

*Wipes tears from eyes* … Oh, it’s my turn? Beyoncé’s ode to ain’t (expletive) men and trusting that you’ll be better off and good on your own tugs at my heartstrings … Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything. – Ali

‘Partition’ 

If this song hasn’t been in your pre-game playlist since it came out, you’re doing it wrong. The perfect jam for when you’re getting ready with your girls before a night out or even if you end up just dancing around your room during a night in. My personal favorite part? The French that she seamlessly and sensually slides in toward the end. – Moniuszko

‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’

I was single when this came out and remain single now. This was a bop when it came out and it remains a bop now. I will not be commenting further at this time. – David Oliver

‘Sorry’

Yes, it gave us “Becky with the good hair,” but “Sorry” is also an effortless banger, its eponymous refrain a rhythmic expression of freedom and joy. On an album as exquisite as “Lemonade,” there is a reason “Sorry” still stands out as its own achievement. – Lawler

‘Yonce’

“I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker.” Iconic. That is all. (Also, if this song doesn’t get you ready to dance, I don’t know what will.) – Moniuszko

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