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The Five Greatest Beyonces of All Time

My hands are shaking as I write this.

I am not afraid of lightning, black cats or the spooky-juice Jesus who will strike you down for using his name in vain, but I try not to upset Beyoncé stans. The Beyhive is more treacherous than any team, street gang or mafia. If ISIS and MS13 came together as a unit, they would be the most feared organization in the world… but they “bet not” say nothing about Beyonce. Beyoncé is the greatest. Beyoncé made the postmodern, pro-feminist, Black Lives Matter-opus, Lemonade. Beyoncé empowered women. Beyoncé freed the slaves. When the Sons Of Liberty boarded ships to toss tea cargo into the Boston Harbor, the fife players and drummer boys were playing a song from “B-Day.”  Beyoncé is the Alpha and Omega, first-of-her-kind prototype for the feminist, artistic pop star. Beyoncé is the shit.

But anyone older than 28 knows that Beyoncé is really–

Hold up, let my look around and make sure my bulletproof vest is on tight enough before I say this: Beyoncé is really just the latest in a long line of female pop stars who dared to pushed the boundaries of feminism. Before Matthew and Tina Knowles blessed the universe with the diva messiah, there was already an extensive list of women entertainers who were just as fabulous, as famous and probably more revolutionary. Yes, there were Beyoncés even before Beyoncé.

As an exercise in placing Queen Bey in proper historical and cultural perspective, I present to you the top 5 Beyoncé of all time:

5. Janet Jackson – If you’re younger than 30, you might not remember when Janet Jackson was Beyoncé. Unless you count that one summer when every girl had a pair of pink jogging pants with “Bootylicious” glued in glitter on her ass, I can’t recall when any really dressed like Beyoncé. But in 1989 Black women all bought combat boots and black painters caps after Janet released Rhythm Nation. Five years later, when she co-starred  with Tupac in “Poetic Justice,” Miss Jackson (yes, I’m nasty) had every chick writing vapid poetry and spending their entire Saturday in salons getting “dookie braids.

Janet is also probably the dancingest diva of all time. If Janet danced right now, she would make Rihanna look like a spastic stork. Furthermore, when the discussion of Beyoncé’s Black Lives Matter tribute at the Super Bowl dies down, they will still be talking about Janet Jackson’s titty. That was in 2004. Think about this: Wilona adopted Penny on Good Times in 1976 after Penny’s mother ironed the wrinkles out of her face, and Janet Jackson still sold out venues across the world this year. So if you’re comparing Beyonce to Janet, call me back in the year 2030.

4. Mariah Carey – Mariah can’t dance (which is a tragedy that someone with the initials “M.C.” is rhythmless). Mariah can’t act (I read somewhere in a magazine that never existed that since waterboarding was outlawed at Guantanamo Bay, they switched to forcing enemy combatants to watch Mariah Carey’s movie Glitter on a loop). But she can saaang. In fact, Mariah is one of the few White celebrities I don’t ridicule for considering butt implants because of the very real possibility that she may have literally sang her ass off. So how did Mariah get on this list?

She sells records.

She has more number one hits than anyone except the Beatles. Yep, more than Elvis. More than Jesus. More than (gasp!) Beyoncé. As a matter of fact, Mariah paved the way for Beyoncé in many aspects of her career–she made a musical movie, she released an album as an alias (Oh, don’t act like y’all don’t remember when Bey was Sasha Fierce!) and she also married a rapper (And I refer to Nick Cannon as a rapper in the loosest definition of the term).

3. Madonna – There’s no debate about this–Madonna may possibly be the greatest pop diva of all time. No one has ever captured the public zeitgeist like Madonna did in the eighties. Madonna was so famous that girls and boys dressed like her. Madonna was so famous that she had sex with Dennis Rodman and people don’t believe she has superherpes. Madonna was so famous that she’s white and has two kids who are Blacker than Beyoncé’s.

As a female pop star who constantly pushed boundaries, no one equals  Madonna’s record. Madonna was so famous she released a book with no words… And motherfuckers bought it!

2. Josephine Baker – Josephine Baker is the original prototype for the Beyoncé. Any goal that Beyoncé ever accomplishes will be in part because of what Josephine Baker did. She was a sex symbol, singing dancing Goddess before it was accepted.

Who was the first Black woman to star in a movie? Josephine Baker.

After the death of Martin Luther King, who did Coretta Scott ask to lead the civil rights movement?
Josephine Baker.

Who served as a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
Josephine Baker.

Who was Beyonce imitating in her Deja Vu video?
You know

1. Diana Ross – Beyoncé is basically Diana Ross–a girl who was groomed since she was a teenager to become a star, who left an iconic girl group to become an iconic solo artist… Then she had a string of huge hits. Then she married a music mogul. Then she starred in an all-Black movie remake of a Broadway show and received an Academy Award nomination.

Maybe you don’t realize how big she was. Diana Ross was considered the most beautiful, famous diva in America and the world (until 1999 she was the top-selling woman artist in the history of the UK charts). She had platinum albums in five different decades. Everyone wanted to be Diana Ross, and Beyoncé eventually did.

Now that I’m finished I’m gonna go hide out while the Beyoncé Stans come for me.

Tell my mama I loved her.

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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