It’s probably fair to say that every year is a big year for Beyoncé, but we have to argue that 2016 was the pop star’s biggest year yet.
The “Halo” singer kicked off the year with an absolute bang when she surprised the Beyhive with “Formation” on Feb. 6, 2016. While the song itself was a huge hit, spurring a freak out the size of her fandom across the Internet, Bey one-upped herself again by performing “Formation” for TV’s biggest audience: the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Although it was technically Coldplay‘s performance with sides of Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, it became instantly clear that Bey hijacked the show and made it her own.
The rest of February and March seemed to be low key for the songstress, but rest assured, Bey was not at home lounging as if she had nothing to do. She was secretly working on the visual album that would sweep the news cycle faster than any of her dance moves. On April 23, Beyoncé released Lemonade on HBO, which hooked fans instantaneously. It was easily the angriest, most scathing, scintillating and confusing album to come from Bey, which made it all the more successful.
Cheating? Politics? A surprise drop? Those are all the A-plus ingredients for a musical explosion.
But, perhaps even bigger than Lemonade, was “Becky With the Good Hair.” It was the lyric that spread like wild fire, spurring memes and full-blown investigations into whom “Becky,” the woman allegedly at the center of infidelity rumors with Jay Z, could be. Many assumed it was Rachel Roy, who experienced a ton of cyberbullying afterwards.
“I respect love, marriages, families and strength,” Roy wrote in response to the harassment. “What shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone, no matter what, is bullying, of any kind.”
Beyoncé then gave fans the gift of the Formation World Tour, which grossed $210 million in ticket sales by November. She kicked off the tour in Miami with a tribute to Prince just six days after he passed away. And if singing along to Bey wasn’t enough, fans could start to dress like her thanks to Ivy Park, her athleisure partnership with Topshop. That, too, sold out pretty quickly.
The Dreamgirls actress upped her political involvement in various ways over the summer, beginning with a letter about police brutality. On the heels of her politically charged “Formation,” Beyoncé encouraged people to reach out to their local legislators to ask for change in the way police handle business. “Stop killing us,” she ended her powerful letter.
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Additionally, Bey and Jay Z campaigned for Hillary Clinton. “We have to think about the future of our daughters, our sons, and vote for someone who cares for them as much as we do,” Beyoncé announced. “And that is why, I’m with her.”
Before the presidential election, however, Beyoncé was still slaying onstage. At the 2016 MTV VMAs in August, Beyoncé basically brought Lemonade to life. She performed about five songs off her album without skipping a beat, seamlessly slipping in and out of a variety of costumes while simultaneously proving she really can do it all. And if the performance wasn’t enough, Bey ended the VMAs by topping Madonna in the record for most Moonmen won—Beyoncé has 22 while Madonna has 20.
And while the singer-actress is best known for her pop and R&B songs, Bey let her fans know that she was capable of going country with her song “Daddy Lessons,” which she performed at the CMAs with the Dixie Chicks.
Kicking off the year with a bang only means that Beyoncé would have to end 2016 the same way, and she definitely is going to. Bey just secured nine Grammy nominations, so she’ll be going into 2017 knowing she could be breaking another record.
Not a bad year to be Bey!