In the 1990s, you couldn’t go up to anyone without talking about the newest R&B singles that just came out. The reputation and influence ‘90s R&B had on later generations is undeniable. From the intense emotions that spilled through the lyrics and vocals to the captivating music videos filled with house parties and easy on the eyes lovers, the ‘90s has to be, hands down the greatest era of R&B music. Here is my list on the top ten best R&B songs of the ‘90s.
10: Janet Jackson/ That’s The Way Loves Goes: Janet Jackson came on the music scene in the 1970s, but by the 1990s, was becoming one of the R&B’s living legends. “That’s The Way Love Goes” was Janet’s lead single on her fifth album, “Janet.” It showed her development from being the sweet baby sister of The Jackson 5 into the sensual liberated grown woman, we’ve all grown to love throughout the ‘90s and 2000s.
9: Bobby Brown & Whitney Houston/ Something in Common: The single was released on Bobby’s Brown 1992 album “Bobby.” Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were known in the ‘90s as the “good girl dates bad boy” couple who fans loved and critics ridic. The song was a duet that Brown and Houston used to tell the world that they did not care about their opinions and though they may seem different, they are alike in many ways.
8: TLC/ No Scrubs: In 1999, TLC came out with the anthem that every female would recite when a guy, who weren’t worth their time, tried to approach them. It set the idea that women shouldn’t waste their time with men who cannot do anything for them and made an impact during a period where male-dominated songs referred to women as gold-diggers or promiscuous individuals. It gave women a chance to stand up for themselves, feel confident about how they may be better than some men, and explained the annoyance they feel when a “scrub” wants to get to know them.
7: SWV/ I’m So Into You: SWV came onto the music scene with hits since 1992. “I’m So Into You” was the group’s second single on their debut album “It’s About Time.” It was successful enough to become their first top ten single in the United States, reached #2 on Billboard Hot R&B /Hip-Hop songs, and certified Gold. It was the type of song that had all of the “puppy love” couples singing it to one another and what many hummed to themselves at night while thinking about their crush. SWV made the perfect song to describe the infatuation with someone that anyone can relate to.
6: Mary J. Blige ft. Lil’ Kim/ I Can Love You: Mary J. Blige has to be apart of the canon of the ‘90s R&B singers. “I Can Love You” is the type of song where Blige displayed that it is okay to fight for love. However, there isn’t an actual competition because she can simply “love you better than she can.” Adding Lil’ Kim’s feature gave the single more emphasize on having the confidence that you need to have when it comes to being in a relationship and knowing your worth.
5: Monica & Brandy/ The Boy is Mine: This single was the white flag from both sides of an ongoing rivalry. In the 1990s, Brandy and Monica were both amazing and talented singers, who were often compared against one. In 1997, the two came out with a song that created a story about two females unknowingly dating the same guy and going back and forth on who he truly belongs to. It resulted in the two realizing the guy did not deserve neither one of them and joining together to catch him in the act. Many people loved the storyline within the lyrics and it brought the news to the public, that they were no longer against each other, but instead united.
4: Bell Biv DeVoe/ Poison: The group Bell Biv DeVoe started off the ‘90s right with their debut single Poison. It was released in February 1990 and became a big hit for the spinoff group from New Edition. The group discussed falling in love with someone who isn’t truly who they claim to be and how toxic they can be. The beat had house parties riled up with battles and recites of the unforgettable lyrics like “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” With its mix of R&B, New Jack Swing, and Hip Hop, it was giving listeners a sample of what the entire ‘90s music industry would consist of.
3: Shai/ If I Ever Fall in Love: Shai introduced this single to the world September 1, 1992. It became the second-most weeks at number two on the charts in history during the time period, after Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” The greatest thing about this song that listeners loved was that the entire song was sung in acapella. There was no instrumental assistance and only the voices and harmony of Shai’s four members could accomplish such an iconic song.
2: Tevin Campbell/ I’m Ready: In 1994, Tevin Campbell had women singing “I’m Ready” to their significant others and crushes, hinting that they were ready to be loved forever. It was Campbell’s second single for his second solo album and was successful in the Pop and R&B Billboard charts. His vocal abilities made his music unlike many other ‘90s singers and he was able to accomplish this during his early teenage years and beyond.
1: R Kelly/ Bump N’ Grind: R. Kelly had the ‘90s on lock. He was coming out with songs and an album that captivated his audience and increased his fame. He became a household name after his album “12 Play” came out in January 1994. Songs like “Bump N’ Grind” were released and men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him. During that year, the single became the longest running number one in the U.S. If you were born late 1994 or early 1995, I’m certain that R. Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind” may have had something to do with that.