Beyoncé will receive the prestigious MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award at the VMAs on Sunday. We’ve picked Bey’s best videos to celebrate, featuring the Mojave desert, dance-offs, Lady Gaga, a crocodile and plenty of leotards
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love feat Jay Z
It’s hard to fathom now, but Beyoncé’s superstar status wasn’t a foregone conclusion prior to 2003’s Crazy In Love. The Neptunes-produced Work It Out – her actual solo debut – hadn’t exactly set the world alight and as Nick Carter will tell you, just because you’re from a globe-straddling pop group doesn’t mean solo success is guaranteed. Obviously Beyoncé didn’t need to panic given she had Crazy In Love up her sleeves – one of the most effortlessly joyous pop songs of the last twenty years. Aware of how much of a statement the song was, the video is a checklist of icon-making visuals, from the locations (backdrops of imposing, powerful-looking skyscrapers mixed with darkened alleyways to seem edgy), the dance moves (that moment where she drops from standing to cross-legged in one fell swoop without looking like she’s fallen over, the finger lick in the final chorus) to the part where she makes bubble blowing look like the sexiest thing a human could
Beyoncé – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
It took Beyoncé until 2008 to come up with her second properly iconic video in the shape of Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), a video that’s had over 314m views and counting. Parodied by everyone from Justin Timberlake to Barack Obama to Fiona Bruce and the full BBC news team, it was also the reason for Kanye West’s infamous Taylor Swift-interrupting ‘Imma let you finish’ invasion at the MTV Video Music Awards. Its brilliance lies in its surprising simplicity - shot in black and white, it’s just Beyoncé and two backing dancers dressed in simple black leotards doing a Bob Fosse-inspired routine that simultaneously feels easy enough to learn and difficult enough to impress your friends if you ever do. The side-wave hand gesture alone is guaranteed to make an appearance at any wedding reception and if Beyoncé achieves nothing else in her life then she’ll always have that.
Beyoncé – Run The World (Girls)
Every megastar needs a ludicrously epic, unnecessarily expensive, brilliantly overindulgent music video and in Beyoncé’s case that arrived in the shape of 2011’s post-apocalyptic Run The World (Girls). Opening with Beyoncé riding across a deserted landscape (actually the Mojave desert) on horseback, the near-five-minute mini-movie features a woman in a cage, a buffalo, lots of flags, a lion, the work of eight choreographers, two hyenas on leads, a water cannon, some shoes made out of broken mirrors, a van exploding, a bit where Beyoncé jumps on a man’s back and one of the greatest examples of why all battles should be decided by an extended dance-off. Also responsible for merging the chiropractor-scaring shoulder shimmy into the Single Ladies wave and the bottom-shake from Crazy In Love into the canon of Beyoncé dance moves not to try sober.