Best Thing I Never Had is the second single released by Beyoncé from her fourth album, 4. It was relased via digital download in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United States on June 1, 2011, on June 9, 2011 in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy , Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and released as a CD single on July 29, 2011 in Germany. The accompanying music video for the single premiered online at 8 pm (EST) on July 7, 2011.
For the charts issue dated June 18, 2011, "Best Thing I Never Had" debuted at number 84 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and at number 53 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs where it was the highest debut of that week. The following week, the song climbed to number 75 on the Hot 100 chart. Continuing its ascension, the single rose from number 58 to number 29 on the Hot 100 chart issue dated July 16, 2011. It has since then peaked at number 16 on the Hot 100 chart and at number 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
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. The music video begins with Knowles preparing herself for her wedding ceremony. She is in her boudoir and she is decked in a lacy corset and a lingerie combo, complete with garters. As the song begins, Knowles looks towards the camera directing the words at the viewer, while affirming the subject of the song that she was the best he ever had. From there, the video moves to Knowles playing with a tiara, a veil and lots of tulle on a bed, to various stages of getting dressed. In-between there is a quick cut to old video footage of a young Knowles and her former high school boyfriend, at their senior-prom night in 1998. As Knowles and her boyfriend dances, he becomes interested in another girl, leaving Knowles alone on the dance floor.
The video then returns back to the present scene, showing Knowles in her final preparations before she walks down the aisle on her wedding day. Interlaced shot show her singing at sunset atop a grassy hill, in a white gown, followed by the walk down the aisle and the exchange of vows. A final shot shows her former lover at the prom deep in thought, with his prom king crown sitting askew on his head. In contrast, Knowles and her newly-wed husband is seen celebrating at a happy and well-attended reception. The groom removes the bride's garter with his teeth and then they start dancing with their younger family members. The final shot features Knowles looking into the camera, with a look of total satisfaction and happiness. She then walks off confidently, to re-join her wedding party and new husband, and then the screen fades to black.
On July 26, 2011, Knowles announced plans to make an alternative music video for the song. She asked her fans to send pictures from their own weddings or prom day experiences, which will be included in a re-edited version of the video. The alternate video is scheduled for release in September, 2011.
Knowles performed "Best Thing I Never Had" live for the first time during her concert at Palais Nikaia in Nice, France on June 20, 2011. She also performed the song at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival on June 26, 2011. On June 28, 2011, Knowles performed "Best Thing I Never Had" on the finale of X Factor France. She also performed the song on The View and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. During the performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Knowles was dressed in white dress and backed by house band The Roots. Brad Wete from the magazine Entertainment Weekly called her vocals "flawless", and Caroline Shin from the magazine New York described her performance as "powerful."
According the liner notes in 4, the credits include:
- Val Brathwaite – mixer assistant
- Antonio Dixon – producer, songwriter
- Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds – producer, songwriter
- Gloria Kaba – engineer assistant
- Beyoncé Knowles – vocals, producer, songwriter
- Caleb McCampbell – producer, songwriter
- Tony Maserati – mixer
- Serge Nudel – engineer assistant
- Symbolyc One – producer, songwriter
- Rob Suchecki – guitar
- Patrick "J. Que" Smith – songwriter
- Shea Taylor – producer, songwriter
- Pete Wolford – engineer assistant
- Jordan "DJ Swivel" Young – recorder