Beyoncé’s first notable appearance in Billboard came in the March 21, 1998, issue, which identified her as one-quarter of “the female foursome” that ended “the eight-week run of the 18-year-old crooner” Usher at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart when “No, No, No” negated “Nice & Slow.” One-quarter of a century later, she’s one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, with eight Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s and 19 million albums sold in the United States (according to Luminate) as a solo act.
In 2021, she became the most Grammy-awarded singer ever, with a career total of 28 trophies; this summer, she topped the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously, with Renaissance and “Break My Soul,” respectively.
“Armed with beauty, youth and the ability to sing catchy jams in sweet, four-part harmony, Columbia Records quartet Destiny’s Child would seem to have it made,” predicted the June 19, 1999, Billboard. When “Bills, Bills, Bills” became the first of the act’s four Hot 100 No. 1s, the July 10 issue reported on a potential Houston-Stockholm rivalry that thankfully never exploded into an international beef. “If you thought ABBA was the king of repeating words in a title,” Billboard pointed out, referencing “Money, Money, Money” for one, “think again.”
Beyoncé’s breakout solo single, “Crazy in Love,” featuring Jay-Z, scored as the Hot Shot Debut in the May 24, 2003, issue. Billboard’s reviewer didn’t fall head over heels, however, saying that the track “could easily be mistaken for a group outing” from Destiny’s Child. Bey knew best, though: The Hot 100 No. 1 became such a smash that the release date of her debut album, Dangerously in Love, was moved up by two weeks. But the review did get one thing right: the “playful, romantic vibe” Bey had with Jay-Z, whom she married five years later. It was noted that “their chemistry is palpable.”
While Bey’s solo career thrived, she got the band back together in 2004 for a last hurrah, Destiny Fulfilled. “It’s not ‘the end,’ like we’re never going to perform together or be on each other’s records,” Beyoncé told Billboard for a Jan. 14, 2006, cover story; true to her word, the core trio of Bey, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams has reunited both onstage and in the studio. In the same issue, the act’s manager, Mathew Knowles — Beyoncé’s father — brushed off a question about the quartet-turned-trio’s lineup changes. “I knew the vocal power of Beyoncé and Kelly,” he said. “I always use the example of if you had Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippin” — we shot an air ball on the spelling of Scottie Pippen’s name — “would you be concerned if you had to make changes with a couple members of the team?”
One ‘Ring’ to Rule Them All
Named Billboard’s 2009 Woman of the Year, Beyoncé revealed the artistic process that led to megahits like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”: “I’ve always tried to pick songs and singles that were a part of pop culture, a part of things that people are passionate about and want to talk about and debate,” she explained in the Oct. 10, 2009, issue. When it came to her formidable work ethic, however, the multihyphenate was just as flabbergasted as anyone. “I don’t realize all that I do until I do interviews like this,” she said. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, how is this possible?’ ”