I love the female voice and I love '90s and '80s R&B. I am not Rolling Stone
, but below is my list of some of the best R&B from sistahs during that era. These songs are often overlooked in the "greatest songs of all time" specials or editorials (from pop to R&B critics). So with the help of two other folks, who happen to be singers themselves, I humbly pulled this list together. I didn't repeat artists and only used songs that were released as singles.
Sometimes it's the voice, the beat, the lyrics -- but whatever it is, it has got to have the soul.
30. "All Around the World
" - Lisa Stansfield
29. "The Pleasure Principle
" - Janet Jackson
Yeah, I know this song is pop, but it was a #1 R&B hit and probably the most popular song for R&B lovers from the Control
28. "Save the Best For Last
" - Vanessa Williams
" - Dionne Ferris
26. "One in a Million
" – Aaliyah
She introduced the Timberland
sound with this song. While "Are You That Somebody" is her most memorable hit, "One in a Million" is Aaliyah at her '90's R&B best.
25. "Through the Rain
" - Tanya Blount
This girl should've had a career like Mary J. ...
24. "What's Love Got To Do With It
" - Tina Turner
23. "Real Love
" - Mary J. Blige
This song ushered in a new sound for female R&B in the '90's and one of the only sustaining artists from that era -- Mary. The merger of hip-hop and R&B, and Mary's pained voice -- coupled with the New York style video, instantly became a classic.
22. "Sweetest Thing
" – Lauryn Hill
No song on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
touches this classic Lauryn ballad from the Love Jones Soundtrack
21. "Sweetest Taboo
" - Sade
20. "Missing You
" - Diana Ross
A tear-jerker, dedicated to the late-great Marvin Gaye
. Diana's last hit and let you know Miss Ross didn't forget her roots.
19. "If Only You Knew
" - Patti Labelle
Patti in a lower key!
18. "Through the Fire
" - Chaka Khan
17. "You Give Good Love
" – Whitney Houston
" - Karyn White
Anyone could've made this song hit and Karyn White lucked out with this ballad written by two men, Babyface
and L.A. Reid
. I don't think there are many black women in the late '80's who didn't have every line of this song memorized!
15. "Get Here
" - Oleta Adams
14. "Love Shoulda Brought You Home Last Night
" – Toni Braxton
Damn, we were loving some Toni. We hadn't heard a voice like this since Anita Baker. You couldn't help but listen to this ballad without hearing Halle Berry
say, "Love shoulda brought your ass home last night!"
13. "Better Days
" - Dianne Reeves
The grandma song!
" - Vesta
11. "Love Under New Management
" - Mikki Howard
10. "As We Lay
" - Shirley Murdock
9. "Hold On
" - En Vogue
Classic R&B! The "Who's Lovin' You" a capella, the harmonies, and the beat. This song started '90's, girl-group R&B.
8. "Just Call My Name
" - Alyson Williams
7. "Giving You the Best That I Got
" – Anita Baker
6. "Out On a Limb
" - Teena Marie
Now of course I thought of "Fire & Desire" but I left out duets because then I'd have to include Renee and Angela
, Ashford & Simpson
, etc. But, "Out On a Limb" is classic!
5. "How Can I Ease the Pain" - Lisa Fischer
(1991) -- I already ranted on this
4. "With Open Arms
" - Rachelle Ferrell
She was sangin', just sangin'...
3. "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)
" - Jennifer Holliday
This is self-explanatory...
2. "Comfort of a Man
" - Stephanie Mills
There isn't a second of this song that isn't R&B. From the chords, lyrics, and Stephanie Mills' immaculate voice. "Comfort of a Man" could've been a hit in 1990 or 1960.
1. "Living In Confusion
" - Phyllis Hyman
I just don't see it getting more rhythm and blues than this. There is so much Phyllis to chose from: "Meet Me On the Moon," "Old Friend" and the #1 R&B hit "Don't Wanna Change the World." Still, "Living In Confusion" is the song that truly captures the essence of Hyman in voice and lyrics. She had the rhythm, soul, vocals, and she definitely was blue. The song was written by Kenny Gamble
, Terry Burrus, AND Phyllis Hyman.
Yes, she co-wrote this song and almost all the songs on this list the artists had no hand in writing. I'm sure Phyllis penned the line, "You build me up to let me down
." There is not a single vocalist on the planet -- and there never will be -- who can sing this song like Phyllis Hyman -- period!Honorable Mentions
: "Treat U Rite" - Angela Winbush
, "Miracles" - Stacey Lattisaw
, "Grapevyne" - Brownstone
, "No More Lies" - Michel'le
, "The Men All Pause" - Klymaxx
, "Love Come Down" - Evelyn "Champagne" King
, "Before You Walk Out of My Life" - Monica
, "Soon As I Get Home" - Faith Evans
, "Jump To It" - Aretha Franklin
, "I'm Weak for You" - Madame X (if you don't know this song, it's a must listen)
Add your favorites in the comments!