Beyonce's 10 Best Soundtrack Contributions: Critic's Picks

Kwaku Alston/Courtesy of Disney
Nala and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

From her small-screen debut in MTV’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera in 2001 to her latest role as Nala in Disney’s live-action retelling of The Lion King (out now), Beyoncé has added a litany of film roles to her lengthy resume as a music superstar, philanthropist, business magnate and global icon. 

To celebrate the release of “Spirit,” her new single from The Lion King, Billboard is ranking Queen Bey’s finest contributions to film soundtracks -- from her early work in Austin Powers in Goldmember and The Fighting Temptations to her star-making roles in Dreamgirls and Cadillac Records. Check out the full list of Beyoncé’s best soundtrack moments below.

10. "Fighting Temptation" (with Missy Elliott, MC Lyte & Free) (The Fighting Temptations)

This star-studded collaboration for 2003’s The Fighting Temptations finds Bey -- who also starred in the film -- grooving through the song’s bubbly chorus while MCs Missy Elliott, MC Lyte and Free trade freewheeling verses.

9. "Smash Into You" (Obsessed)

In the 2009 thriller Obsessed, Beyoncé starred opposite Idris Elba and Ali Larter as the devoted wife of a man with a dangerously enamored stalker. While the deadly final showdown between Queen Bey and Larter won the MTV Movie Award for best fight, the superstar also contributed album cut “Smash Into You” from 2008’s I Am… Sasha Fierce to the film’s official soundtrack.

8. “Wishing On a Star” (Roll Bounce)

Originally recorded for her 2004 live album Live at Wembley, Beyoncé’s cover of the hit '70s Rose Royce ballad was also included on the soundtrack to Roll Bounce, the 2005 roller skating film starring Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Meagan Good. Released as one of the soundtrack’s three official singles, Bey’s version of the ‘70s-era classic also earned her a Grammy nomination for best female R&B vocal performance.

7. "Summertime" (feat. P. Diddy) (The Fighting Temptations)

“Yo B, tell ‘em what time it is!” This breezy ode to the sunniest season of the year paired Bey’s laid back, light-as-air vocals with P. Diddy listing off his love for “drop tops, blonde highlights and summer love.” While not directly featured in the film, the song was included on the soundtrack for 2003’s The Fighting Temptations, which starred Beyoncé as the principal singer of a small-town church choir led by Cuba Gooding, Jr.

6. "Work It Out" (Austin Powers in Goldmember)

Queen Bey’s role as FBI agent Foxxy Cleopatra -- a spoof on blaxploitation heroines like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones -- in the third and final entry of the Austin Powers comedy series served as both her theatrical film debut and the launching pad for her post-Destiny’s Child solo career. The film also gave the superstar her first solo single in “Work It Out,” the funk-inspired post-disco jam featured as the lead single for the movie’s soundtrack.

5. "At Last" (Cadillac Records)

In this 2008 biopic of record man Leonard Chess, Beyoncé imbued her performance as soul legend Etta James with fiery star power, delivering a pitch-perfect cover of James’ signature ballad. Throughout the musical film, she also performed renditions of classics by the iconic singer including “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “All I Could Do Was Cry” and “Trust In Me.” Beyoncé’s version of the romantic “At Last” earned the multi-hyphenate her first of two Grammys for best traditional R&B performance. 

4. "Crazy in Love" (2014 Remix) (Fifty Shades of Grey)

For the 2015 big screen adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, Queen Bey recorded a new version of her smash 2003 single, turning the original’s horn blasts and ‘70s-style funk into a teasing, erotic slow jam perfectly in line with the film’s darkly sexual themes. Produced by Boots, who also helmed much of Bey’s critically acclaimed self-titled fifth studio album, the slowed-down reinvention of the superstar's first solo No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 titillated viewers as the soundtrack to the movie’s first trailer. 

3. "Spirit" (The Lion King)

Beyoncé’s latest single finds her soaring over crashing African drums and a full backing choir. The song serves as the lead single for The Lion King: The Gift, a companion album to Disney’s new live-action remake of the 1994 animated classic. The new project will be curated and produced exclusively by Beyoncé, and is set to feature a roster of global recording artists and African producers on its as-yet-announced tracklist.

2. "Check on It" (feat. Bun B & Slim Thug) (The Pink Panther)

This banger from 2005’s remake of '60s comedy classic The Pink Panther -- which Beyoncé starred in alongside Steve Martin as Inspector Jacques Clouseau -- earned Bey her third No. 1 on the Hot 100. Kicking off the video version of "Check On It" before the track’s dancing bassline and swaggering vocals enter is a quick hat tip to "The Pink Panther Theme,” the instrumental composition written by Henry Mancini as the theme for the original Pink Panther in 1963. The song ultimately spent five consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, tying Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” for the longest-running No. 1 of 2006. 

1. "Listen" (Dreamgirls)

Nothing in Beyoncè’s ever-growing filmography tops her portrayal of Deena Jones, the Diana Ross-like star of 2006’s Dreamgirls. One of four new songs written for the big-screen adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical, “Listen” serves as the film’s emotional climax, with Beyoncé’s character finally breaking free from her controlling manager/husband, played by Jamie Foxx and modeled after Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. The ballad became a signature during Beyoncé’s B’Day era and earned a host of nominations during awards season, including nods for best original song at the 2007 Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

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