How Beyoncé’s B'Day Changed The Game

On the Queen's 40th birthday, we reflect back on the historic album

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Columbia Records

Tomorrow marks Beyoncé’s 40th birthday, and subsequently the 15th anniversary of her beloved album B’Day. Released September 1st, 2006, three days before her 25th birthday, the album remains a fan favorite and was a pivotal chapter in paving the way for a career that will eventually earn her a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (a feat she will see in her 40s). B'Day was also Beyoncé’s first venture into the realm of comprehensive visual projects (something we would see much more of in the years to come) and was accompanied by hit singles and groundbreaking performances. Today we revisit the history of B’Day, and how it set the stage for her following projects.

Except she didn’t listen.

Inspired by her experiences filming Dreamgirls, Beyoncé was itching to get back into the studio, recording the album behind her father’s (who was her manager at that time) back. During the course of two weeks, Beyonce alongside world-renowned producers such as The Neptunes, Sean Garrett, and Swizz Beats knocked out B'Day primarily at Sony Music Studios in New York City. The album expanded upon Dangerously In Love’ theme of funk-inspired songs with live instrumentation, along with elements of R&B, Pop, and Soul. The album wrapped, and the first single “Déjà Vu" featuring Jay-Z was released in June 2006. Around the same time, Beyoncé held auditions for an all-female band which she named The Suga Mamas. The 2006 BET Awards just happened to be three days away, and it was there that Beyonce performed the single for the first time.

“Ring The Alarm,” the second single, wasn’t officially released until September, but Beyoncé began promotion as early as late July/early August performing the song at the 2006 VMAs on August 31st, 2006. B’Day hit stores on September 4th, with Beyoncé performing a special show in Tokyo to celebrate. The following day the newly turned 25-year-old was back in the States making appearances on TRL and 106 & Park. The campaign continued in the following months coinciding with the upcoming release of Dreamgirls. In October 2006, Beyoncé dropped the single and music video for “Irreplaceable,” one of her most successful songs to date, and performed the track at the 2006 American Music Awards as well as various different shows.

Enter the B’Day Anthology Video Album —Beyoncé’s first dive into the world visual realm. Admitting that she was having a hard time figuring out which songs to shoot music videos for next, Beyoncé decided to solve that problem by filming videos for all of the remaining songs on the album. The Anthology Video Album was entirely self-funded (her record label wouldn’t give her the budget to make that many music videos), and due to the tight nature of her schedule, would have to be filmed in….two weeks.

After the video album was done, Beyoncé made an appearance at the 2007 Grammys where she was introduced by Prince (whom she had previously done a duet with at the 2004 Grammys ) to perform “Listen.” Two weeks later she performed a Dreamgirls medley at the Oscars with co-stars Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose. She would then go on to perform a mini-concert at the 2007 Houston Rodeo and kicked off The Beyoncé Experience tour the following month.

The tour itself had five legs and spanned almost seven months as Beyoncé traveled the globe to put on a show for her many different fans around the world. Later that summer, Beyoncé reunited with Kelly and Michelle at the 2007 BET awards joining together to perform the tracks “Get Me Bodied,” and Kelly’s lead single “Like This” featuring Eve from her album Ms. Kelly. The performance also included an appearance from Solange with all four dancing together at the end.

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Getty Images

The Beyoncé Experience World Tour wrapped in 2007, and shortly after she began working on her third album I Am...Sasha Fierce

In the years since we’ve seen Beyoncé expand the concepts that she first experimented with during the B’Day era. Her surprise 2013 self-titled album was a complete visual effort that was even bigger and better due to Beyoncé’s growth as an artist and the rise of the internet/social media. 2016’s Lemonade is classified as a short film, and her performance at Coachella in 2018 is an example of how she began taking the production of her shows to the next level with The Beyonce Experience.

B’Day was fearless. It was bold. And it will forever have a place in history.

Happy Birthday, Bey.

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