Beyoncé — or “Queen Bey” as she is adoringly called — has routinely shown that her greatness knows no bounds. From her solo debut in 2003 to present day, the megastar has amassed a level of stardom that many of her peers are yet to achieve. Not discounting her prior victories, it was the 2010s that saw Beyoncé reach a peak level of cultural relevance and nuance that etched her name in the history books.
With this in mind, let’s go year-by-year and revisit the moments this decade that showed how the “Formation” singer created a lane exclusive to her and defined a large sector of pop culture.
2010: Beyoncé makes history at the 52nd Grammy Awards
Yoncé kicked off the decade with a bang, making history at the 2010 Grammy Awards. Right after the release of her third studio album “I Am… Sasha Fierce,” the singer won six awards — the most earned by a female artist in one night (a record, which was later tied by Adele in 2012).
The “Single Ladies (Put A Ring on It)” singer won the golden gramophones in the categories for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Song of the Year, all for “Single Ladies”; Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Halo”; Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “At Last”; and Best Contemporary R&B Album for IASF.
Honorable mentions: That same year, Bey also collaborated with Lady GaGa on the widely raved about “Telephone” music video and chronicled her 108-show “I Am… World Tour” in a documentary for her fans.
2011: Beyoncé releases her fourth studio album, “4,” and hits a major milestone at Glastonbury
Beyoncé kept the momentum going in 2011, making it one of her most commercially successful years this decade. That summer, the Houston native was busier than ever — she became the first woman to headline the Glastonbury Festival in 12 years and released her career-shifting fourth studio album, aptly titled “4.”
This era marked new beginnings for Bey, as she not only ended her “Sasha Fierce” era, declaring that her popular alter ego was officially “dead,” but she also severed all management ties with her father and longtime manager Mathew Knowles. As with all of her past and future studio releases, “4” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was heralded as the best album of 2011 by The New Yorker.
Honorable mentions: Beyoncé also released and starred in two documentaries — “Year of 4” and “Live at Roseland: Elements of 4” — and performed at the Billboard Music Awards, where she was honored with the Millennium Award.
2012: Beyoncé welcomes her first child, Blue Ivy Carter
Marking one of the biggest moments in both pop culture and awards show history, Beyoncé took to the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards stage to not only perform her hit “Love on Top” for the first time on an awards show stage, but to also announce her first pregnancy to the world after its closing note. The singer’s big reveal set a record of 8,868 tweets per second, proving that she was the hottest topic of the night.
In January 2012, five months after the now-iconic pregnancy reveal, she welcomed her first child, daughter Blue Ivy Carter, with husband Jay-Z. The then mother of one took a couple months off before making her comeback at a special concert in Atlantic City, NJ.
Honorable mentions: That year, she won two BET Awards in the categories for Best Female R&B artist and Video Director of the Year.
2013: Beyoncé changes digital music releases forever with her self-titled album
Everyone knows where they were when this pop culture event took place. Sending the world into a frenzy in the dead of the night on Dec. 13, 2013, Beyoncé released her eponymous album, “Beyoncé,” without warning. Though she also headlined the Super Bowl halftime show that same year and released her full-length documentary, “Life Is but a Dream,” the album’s release is what had the world talking for months to come.
The 14-track project spawned several hits that have become synonymous with the “Beyoncé brand” — like “Partition,” “***Flawless” and “Drunk in Love” — and came with music videos to accompany each track upon purchase. The album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, making her the first woman in the chart’s history to have her first five studio albums debut at No. 1.
Honorable mentions: She reunited Destiny’s Child at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2013.
2014: Beyoncé covers Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” issue, earns No. 1 spot on Forbes Celebrity 100 list
Queen Bey was immortalized on the cover of Time magazine for its “100 Most Influential People” issue in 2014, with Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, commending the pop culture heavyweight for her influence and personal mantra of female empowerment in its cover story.
“In the past year, Beyoncé has sold out the ‘Mrs. Carter Show World Tour’ while being a full-time mother,” the story read. “Her secret: hard work, honesty and authenticity. And her answer to the question, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ appears to be ‘Watch me. I’m about to do it.’ Then she adds, ‘You can, too.'”
That same year, the singer also topped Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list after earning $2.4 million per show during the “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” and selling a million copies of her single “Drunk in Love,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Honorable mentions: Beyoncé celebrated the success of her self-titled album from the previous year with the release of “Beyoncé: Platinum Edition,” which includes additional tracks like “*** Flawless (Remix),” featuring Nicki Minaj.
2015: Beyoncé covers Vogue magazine’s September issue, unites with First Lady Michelle Obama at the Global Citizen Festival
2015 was a pretty quiet year for Beyoncé — by her standards, at least — but she did manage to grace the cover of the coveted September issue of a little known magazine called American Vogue. This marked the third time a black woman has covered this particular issue in the publication’s existence.
Queen Bey also performed at the Global Citizen Festival in 2015 and shared an on-stage embrace with then First Lady Michelle Obama!
Honorable mentions: Beyoncé also dropped a surprise song, “Die With You,” and performed with her Destiny’s Child bandmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, at the Stellar Awards.
2016: Beyoncé creates another musical event with “Lemonade” album drop, makes a huge statement with “Formation” at the Super Bowl
2016 not only saw Beyoncé officially expand her reach from music icon to political force, but it also marked arguably the biggest turning point in her career.
The musician took her fans and the world by surprise with the release of the politically charged music video for her lead single “Formation,” taken from her then-soon-to-be-released sixth studio album, “Lemonade.” Taking to the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show stage, alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay, Beyoncé delivered the first televised performance of the song with a heavily choreographed performance that saw her pay tribute to the Black Panther party.
Three months after the performance (which incited major discussions across the country for its social justice theme), Beyoncé released the song’s parent album “Lemonade,” coupled with a film that first premiered on HBO. The Associated Press has since heralded the LP as the album of the decade. The project was so impactful that when it was snubbed in the Album of the Year category at the 2017 Grammy Awards, the category winner, Adele, honored Beyoncé and the project in her acceptance speech.
Honorable mentions: Beyoncé also found the time to launch her activewear line, Ivy Park, which is set to launch gender-neutral items in 2020.
2017: Beyoncé announces her pregnancy with twins, Sir and Rumi Carter
In another now iconic method (which has since been recreated by many for their own maternity shoots and even Halloween costumes), Beyoncé announced that she and Jay-Z were expecting twins. The singer made the initial announcement with the photo above, writing in the supporting caption, “We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two.”
Five months later, the couple welcomed their twins, Sir and Rumi. One month after they were born, the “Halo” singer shared another gorgeous photo on social media, giving her fans a glimpse of her bundles of joy.
Honorable mentions: While expanding her family, Beyoncé also launched her Formation Scholars program, which sought to help black, female undergraduate and graduate students further their education. She and Jay-Z also officially became a billion-dollar couple this year.
2018: Beyoncé becomes the first black woman to headline Coachella
If there was any doubt that Beyoncé was a cultural icon who transcends music, her 2018 two-night Coachella headlining performance — which would later be created into her own Netflix special titled “Homecoming” — would prove just that. Redefining what a Coachella set could visually represent, Beyoncé transformed the stage into an HBCU homecoming experience, complete with her own fraternity, majorettes and drum line. The event was so earth-shattering that viewers renamed the entire event “Beychella” after seeing its brilliance.
Honorable mentions: Beyoncé also released a collaborative album, “Everything Is Love,” with Jay-Z. The two released the project under the name “The Carters.”
2019: Beyoncé releases “Homecoming,” stars as Nala in Disney’s record-breaking photorealistic remake of “The Lion King“
Beyoncé continued the conversation of her rousing Coachella performance in 2019 with the release of her original Netflix documentary “Homecoming,” which chronicled the behind-the-scenes moments from the event and the fully produced on-stage performance. The documentary went on to land six Emmy nominations in July 2019. However, to the surprise of many, the project was shut out in each category.
While some may consider the massive snub a loss, Beyoncé’s remaining wins of the year showed that she had no reason to fret. Joining the ensemble cast of the highly anticipated 2019 remake of Disney’s “The Lion King,” Beyoncé, who voiced Nala in the film, helped the movie break records.
She also curated an album inspired by the film, titled “The Lion King: The Gift,” which saw her recruit artists from across the continent to create what she described as “a love letter to Africa.”
Honorable mentions: GLAAD recognized Beyoncé for her continued philanthropic efforts throughout the years, awarding her with the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. She was also honored with the Entertainer of the Year award at the NAACP Image Awards.
This has turned out to be one of the most formative and revolutionary decades in Beyoncé’s 22-year career, and it only leaves us excited to see what more the megastar has in store for us in the years to come.
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