After she changed the game with the digital drop of her surprise visual LP BEYONCÉ, followed by flipping HBO (and the world) upside down with LEMONADE, many tend to forget that Beyoncé had already set the wheels in motion. Ten years ago, on April 3, 2007, the singer released the B’ Day Video Anthology Album, the first of her discography’s three visual albums. Partnered alongside the deluxe re-release of her 2006 sophomore effort, B’ Day, the set featured music videos for 13 of the album’s tracks.
At the time, the music video artform was starting to die out a little, as the shift in the industry’s focus was the ringtone and the skyrocketing impact of digital downloads. In her ambitious spirit, Beyoncé filmed nine new music videos in the span of two weeks to accompany those of B’Day’s previously released singles. The project quickly became a team effort featuring high profile directors Melina Matsoukas, Jake Nava, Anthony Mandler, Cliff Watts and Ray Kay. The songstress did most of her own hair and makeup, while stylist Ty Hunter coordinated the outfits that Tina Knowles spent countless hours making for the leading star and her backup dancers. In addition to its high profile style moments, the Anthology is best known for its choreography, which Beyoncé and her team of choreographers mapped out in a matter of hours (even in the case of “Beautiful Liar,” 45 minutes) before filming took place.
Every visual—with varying filming techniques ranging from vivid colors to black and white to Super 8 film—embodied the liberation present on the sound and lyricism of B’ Day. In a way, the singer went full actress mode, channeling the many sides of a strong, black woman who’s in control of her own situations. The dance instructions of “Get Me Bodied” showcased her fun, energetic side. “Green Light,” “Kitty Kat,” and “Freakum Dress” highlighted the diva’s sex appeal as a weapon. “Flaws and All” offered a side of softness as each individualized portrait peeped a window into the star’s human side. As each video played out in sequential order, they unpacked the complexities of the ups and downs of relationships and how women still manage to be bosses in their own rights. All in all, the project became a celebration of womanhood and various aspects of femininity.
Always pushing the envelope, Beyoncé found the perfect opportunity to fulfill her dream of making a music video album. The music videos from her days in Destiny’s Child and her solo debut, Dangerously in Love, made the case for Beyoncé as an emerging music video maven, but Anthology—and the drive behind it—placed her in a high tier lane with the likes of her biggest inspiration Michael Jackson. Similar to the King of Pop, the Queen Bey wanted to make a collectors item that her fans could cherish forever. Instead of having the BeyHive go to YouTube and tirelessly search for the videos, they were all available in the one set. Now those fans wish she would have made a visual for every song, including the heartbreaker “Resentment” and the punny, deluxe jaunt “World Wide Woman.”
B’ Day Video Anthology Album must be heralded as an important pop culture artifact. As expressed before, it’s the birther of Beyoncé’s passion for providing fans visual sequences they need to tell an album’s story. Imagine a B’Day without its Anthology—although the go-go and funk infused tracks already made an impression upon audio listens only, the visuals made the record pop to life. Without a test run for the first visual album, who knows if BEYONCÉ or LEMONADE would have actually held up to its standards of filming mastery. Here is a definitive ranking of all the project’s music videos from least favorite to absolute standout.
The Diane Martel-directed cut comes from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Beyoncé most likely featured the video on the set, as a bonus treat for fans to remind them of her role as Deena Jones in the 2006 film adaptation of the Broadway musical.
12. “Still In Love (Kissing You)”
As this video’s YouTube description says, “she is serving up in this video.” The black and white visuals of the singer frolicking on a beach in a two piece bikini is a pleasant sight to see. Well maybe not for “You Gotta Be” singer, Des’ree, who sued the singer for covering her 1997 ballad without her permission. As a result, only those that own the initial pressings of Anthology have the video on DVD.
11. “Flaws And All”
In 2007, Melina Matsoukas told MTV that the Cliff Watts directed flick utilized Super 8. Beyoncé “emulates” classic Hollywood actresses Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Barbra Streisand in black and white portraits that highlight a woman’s complexities.
10. “Suga Mama”
With a country twang and go-go swang, the singer caused a commotion with her solo dancing. Using a pole and mechanical bull to tantalize her lover, Beyoncé manages to still exude a southern charm in it all. The song also inspired the name of her all female band, the Suga Mamas.
9. “Kitty Kat”
It’s a shame that this visual only lasts for less than a minute—granted, it’s just the opener for the more powerful “Green Light” music video. The Neptunes-produced track is actually three minutes and 55 seconds long. This video deserves props for the cheetah print “Katsuit” and eye shadow which made the singer stand out from the huge black cat. If only we would have received a visual for the rap breakdown that happens towards the end of the song.
We all know the chorus, and we all know the fingernail filing and subsequent hand gesture that goes along with it. Playing out almost every lyric to literal interpretation, “Irreplaceable” will forever remain one of the singer’s stand out videos for a single. The buzz behind it helped the song stay number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks, and propelled the longevity of B’ Day.
7. “Beautiful Liar” feat. Shakira
On the streets, the dream pop/R&B collaboration everyone hoped for was Beyoncé and Shakira. The Colombian became a pop culture mainstay when she released her number one hit, “Hips Don’t Lie,” the same year Bey released the standard edition of B’ Day. The two divas were arguably the hottest dancers on the music block, so when they united, it was massive. For the double trouble video—which manages to play mind tricks with just one blink of an eye— Shakira taught Beyoncé how to belly dance for the ending scenes.
6. “Freakum Dress”
Think about asking your mother to make you eight ready-for-the-club dresses in order to make your man jealous. Most would say no, but never Miss Tina. Oh oh oh… There’s a barrage of outfit changes in this fast paced visual which features an incredible hand motion at “get ready to freak um, freak um.” And don’t forget the dance sequence during the final verse, which starts with, “When you put it on it’s your invitation/when they play your song get on up and shake it!”
5. “Upgrade U” feat. Jay Z
Flashy images of golden Rolexes and a creme interiored Rolls Royce don’t even beat Bey’s impersonation of Jay. The rapper was running late to set, and due to her time crunch, the singer had to embody her future husband’s swag. At the end it all paid off for one of the pair’s best joint visuals.
4. “Déjà Vu” feat. Jay Z
For the first single off the standard edition, the singer dug into her Creole roots to make a striking visual. Bogged in the steamy New Orleans summer, the chemistry between the lovers is undeniable. The video gained notoriety for its fashion and one suggestive dance move after another. Surprisingly, her fans were “underwhelmed” by the video and demanded a reshoot. Thankfully, they kept everything intact.
3. “Get Me Bodied (Extended Mix)”
Swizz Beatz track, check. Solange joining the Destiny’s Child trio, check. The grand Beyoncé entrance prompting a “who is it?” sequence before she replies, “it’s me, Bey,” check. An extended dance workout: simply priceless (especially the scissor leg)!
2. “Green Light”
Beyoncé endured “battle scars” for the hardest video to film in the two weeks. They were worth it. A mixture of slow motion and real time mixed in with sped up visuals, set the formula for future videos such as “Countdown.” The video’s pacing goes along with the funk inspired track. The latex outfits are to die for. The Suga Mamas come to life as an incredible backing band, and Beyoncé’s attitude leads the way. Simply put, “Greenlight” is the fiery heart of the Anthology.
1. “Ring The Alarm”
Any video that successfully pays homage to Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct character Catherine Tramell deserves first place. Beyoncé not only performs the part, she executes it. From the Manolo Timb-inspired booties to the creme trench coat that she still performs in today, the style was more than on point. And although Beyoncé is visibly enraged, that anger is the proper amount of turn up to a Swizz Beatz club banger.