"Best Thing I Never Had" is a song by American singer Beyoncé Knowles taken from her fourth studio album, 4 (2011). It was released by Columbia Records on June 1, 2011, as the second single from the album. "Best Thing I Never Had" was composed by Patrick "J. Que" Smith, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Symbolyc One, Caleb McCambell, Atonio Dixon, Knowles and Shea Taylor. As stated by Smith, "Best Thing I Never Had", which was originally not a ballad, was inspired by the drums ofDoug E. Fresh's song "The Show".
An R&B-pop song, "Best Thing I Never Had" has lyrics about revenge and karma. Not wanting to end up broken-hearted, the female protagonist relates that she feels happy to have parted from her love interest who did not recognize the potential of leading a happy life beside her. Critical reception towards "Best Thing I Never Had" has been generally positive; several music critics noted that its theme and style bear resemblance to Knowles' 2006 single, "Irreplaceable". Knowles' vocals and the lyrical content of the song were also complimented.
"Best Thing I Never Had" peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and has so far reached a high point of number seven on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The single also peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart and at number two on the Irish Singles Chart and the Polish Airplay Chart. Elsewhere, "Best Thing I Never Had" was at number one on the South Korea Gaon International Chart , UK R&B Chart, and the US Hot Dance Club Play charts. The single also reached the top 10 in New Zealand , Australia , Belgium , Slovakia and Scotland. It generally reached the top 40 in other European territories. It has so far received gold certifications by both the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the New Zealand (RIANZ).
The accompanying music video for the the single was by Diane Martel. In the video, Knowles is seen getting ready for her wedding. She recalls how her ex-love interest who never gave her the attention she deserved. Critics generally praised Knowles as looking stunning in the bridal suite and commended her ability to sing directly to the camera, affirming the subject of the song that she was the best he ever had. "Best Thing I Never Had" was promoted by several live performances of Knowles, notably at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival and on the televised show, The View amongst others.
The music video for "Best Thing I Never Had" was directed by Diane Martel, and was shot in Westchester County on June 15, 2011 and in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on June 16, 2011. On June 20, 2011, it was revealed that Knowles would not be the one playing the prom queen in the music video. Knowles said that "not being prom queen in the video reminded her of how she never wore the coveted tiara at her own high school dance." However, she added that it was indeed "weird" not to have her real father, Mathew Knowles, walk her down the aisle in the wedding scene, which was shot in a Sleepy Hollow country club on June 15, 2011, because she was escorted down the aisle by her father when she wed Jay-Z in April 2008. On July 20, 2011, Knowles sat for an interview with Access Hollywood, where she spoke of the set of her video for "Best Thing I Never Had":
It was a little strange. And definitely when I walked down the aisle I was like, 'This is kind of creepy — there’s some other man standing there!' It was really beautiful. People were all really excited like it was really my wedding. My mother was even like, 'Aww', and I was like, 'Mom, it's a video. This is not my dress. This is not the real wedding.' But I think it’s just one of those moments that every woman kind of fantasizes and relives.
She also elaborated on the wedding dress she wears in the video. She said that it was a Barachi dress that she saw in the window around a year ago when she was at theGrammys. Before shooting the video for "Best Thing I Never Had", Knowles remembered the dress, which she described as "a beautiful fantasy", and her team called and they still had the dress. The latter was paired with a tiara by Lorraine Schwartz, and Knowles added that the elegant ensemble made her feel "like royalty ... like a queen." It was actually a necklace that Schwartz turned into that crown. Knowles also said that the music video nuptials were surprisingly more chaotic than her real life 2008 wedding to Jay-Z: "This may have been a little more crazy, actually. I had to sing at the same time!" Additionally, the ivory draped V-neck gown which Knowles wears in the music video was designed by the Chinese-American fashion designer, Vera Wang. The video premiered online at 8 pm (EST) on July 7, 2011.