Best American Music Awards Performances No. 13: Beyonce's Fierce 'Single Ladies' at 2008 AMAs

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AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Beyonce performs at the American Music Awards on Nov. 23, 2008 in Los Angeles.

In honor of the 2017 American Music Awards, Billboard is counting down the best performances from the awards show’s history. We continue the countdown at No. 13 with Beyoncé.

Back in 2008, Beyoncé fully embodied her onstage persona Sasha Fierce with her album I Am…Sasha Fierce, making it to No.1 on the Billboard 200. The album, of course, featured her now iconic song “Single Ladies (Put A Ring on It)” with a memorable, club-worthy choreography accompanying it. 

For the 2008 AMAs, Bey ruled the stage in a simple setup; no fancy graphics, no elaborate set -- just Beyoncé and two dancers (including Glee’s Heather Morris) in matching black-and-white leotards, with an all-female backup band. The simplicity may seem surprising for someone of the caliber of Beyoncé, but Bey didn’t need any gimmicks for her outstanding performance. It was a moment that felt empowering and showed why Beyoncé is one of the most legendary pop figures of today. 

At one point, Beyoncé says, “Alright, AMAs, y’all are looking too cool for me. Single ladies, where you at?” and the camera cuts to Queen Latifah, who proudly holds her hands up, singing along. Soon after, all the women in audience are shown following queue, embracing this moment and creating an unintentionally humorous contrast between the male audience’s stern expressions and the women’s glee. 

Right when the performance appears to be over, Beyoncé counts to four and brings out two guitarists, who jam out with her, foreshadowing the rock side she unleashed 8 years later on Lemonade

Watch the iconic performance below. 

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