Today’s Top Ten: Best R&B Songs From The 90s

R&B Songs

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10. This Is How We Do It | Montell Jordan

Year: 1995
Album: Montell Jordan
Label: Def Jam

Man I didn’t really want to put this song on the list. I have a love-hate relationship with “This Is How We Do It”. I swear I don’t like it until I hear it again and I’m dancing along. But back in 1995 this was the JAM and everyone thought Montell Jordan was going to be the next big thing. It didn’t quite work out that way, but “This is How We Do It” was the (early) summer jam that year spending seven weeks at No 1 on the Hot 100 Billboard charts from 15 April to 27 May 1995 as well as seven weeks on the R&B charts.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: This Is How We Do It was the first R&B single released on Def Jam.

9. MotownPhilly | Boyz II Men

Year: 1991
Album: CooleyHighHarmony
Label: Motown Records

“MotownPhilly back again. Bringing a little East Coast SWANG!” and so we were introduced to Boyz II Men. They would become the quintessential crooners of the 90’s with their singles “End Of The Road” and “I’ll Make Love To You,” but it was this first single from their debut album that let the world know that that Philly Sound was back and updated for the 90’s. I learned how to tie a tie because of these guys. I had to get my preppy look on with my jeans, shirt, tie and saddle oxfords. This joint is still jammin’ to this day. The only question I have, after looking at the video, is what happened to Sudden Impact?

I learned how to tie a tie because of these guys. I had to get my preppy look on with my jeans, shirt, tie and saddle oxfords. This joint is still jammin’ to this day. The only question I have, after looking at the video, is what happened to Sudden Impact?

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: Micheal Bivins of BBD and New Edition fame, and who also appears in the video co-wrote the song.

8. You Make Me Wanna | Usher

Year: 1997
Album: My Way
Label: LaFace

“You Make Me Wanna” was Usher’s first single from his make it or break it second album My Way. If this album failed to be successful there’s a good chance that would have been the end of Usher’s career. He’d already suffered a voice change that almost got him dropped from his label and a disappointing debut album that led to the label thinking about dropping him again. They kept him, he hooked up with a young Jermaine Dupri and the rest is history.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: You Make Me Wanna reached No 1 in the UK becoming Usher’s first ever No 1 record.

7. Hold On | En Vogue

Year: 1990
Album: Born To Sing
Label: Atlantic Records

En Vogue was everything you wanted in a 90’s R&B girl group. They were not only lovely but they could sang. Assembled in Oakland California in 1989 Hold On was released to radio in February of 1990 and was a crossover pop hit that reached No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and No 1 on the R&B and Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: Djimon Hounsou is in the video for “Hold On.”

6. Poison | Bel Biv Devoe

Year: 1990
Album: Poison
Label: MCA Records

Bel Biv Devoe knocked it out the park with their debut single from their debut album. “Poison” was done in the New Jack Swing style, a mix of hip-hop and R&B that was popularized by Teddy Riley and was hugely popular in the late eighties to the early to mid-90s. “Poison” showcased their vocals and their new edge as a spinoff group from the more clean-cut New Edition.

The single details the dangers of loving the wrong type of woman namely one with “A Big Butt And A Smile” and it has hugely influenced pop culture to this day. Heck, I named my original blog, now clothing store, after the song and is one of my all time favorites.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: Bell, Bivins, and DeVoe formed the group at the suggestion of producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

5. Love Takes Time | Mariah Carey

Year: 1990
Album: Mariah Carey
Label: CBS Records

The second single off of Mariah Carey’s debut album, Love Takes Time solidified her status as the new big-voiced diva on the scene. While not quite the success of her debut single Vision of Love, Love Takes Time was Carey’s second No 1 hit in the US. Amazing for a song that wasn’t even supposed to be on the album. Carey had to petition label execs to put the single on the album as it was already in the final stages of productions and they didn’t want to go through the trouble of adding another track.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: On early pressings of Mariah Carey “Love Takes Time” doesn’t even make the track list since it was added so late in the process.

4. Real Love | Mary J. Blige

Year: 1992
Album: What’s The 411
Label: Uptown/MCA

There’s no talking about 90s R&B without talking about the emergence of Mary J. Blige. She hit the scene with here diva vocals and ’round the way girl looks and took the industry by storm. This was pre-blond, all the way live Mary J. Blige who was just as likely to get into a fight as she was to make chart-topping hits. Real Love was the second single off of her debut album What’s The 411 and was a huge crossover hit reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and No. 1 on the Billboard R&B and Rhythmic charts.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: The song samples Audio Two’s 1987 hit “Top Billin“.

3. That's The Way Love Goes | Janet Jackson

Year: 1993
Album: Janet
Label: Virgin Records America

The most Janet of Janet Jackson songs That’s The Way Love Goes is an example of what was so good about 90s R&B music and Janet Jackson. It’s a mid-tempo love song that’s smooth and sensual and completed Janet’s transition to a sultry pop diva, all grown up and no longer just Michael’s little sister, but a full-on pop star in her own right.

That’s The Way Love Goes was the debut single off of Jackson’s fifth studio album Janet. Spending eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 is the bestselling song of Janet’s career and the longest-running No. 1 of anyone in the Jackson family.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: Yes that’s Jennifer Lopez in the video.

2. I Will Always Love You | Whitney Houston

Year: 1992
Album: Bodyguard Soundtrack
Label: Arista Records

I don’t think I really have to explain why this song is on the list. I didn’t really want to add it to the list, but “I Will Always Love You” is one of the best-selling singles of all time and the best-selling single by a woman artist, ever. From the 1992 Bodyguard soundtrack “I Will Always Love You” spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and turned an already superstar singer into a level fame reached by very few artists. Whitney killed it and that’s why she’s No 2 on the list.

Best Lyric:
Fun Fact: It’s really a Dolly Parton song.

1. Stay | Jodeci


No one did 90s R&B better than Jodeci did 90s R&B. These guys had the pipes of your 60s and 70s soul singers, with the edge of any hip-hop artist. There was nothing soft about Jodeci as they sang about love and begging their woman not to leave and did it while wearing Karl Kani and Timberlands.

Stay is the best example of what made Jodeci so great. Devante is talking sexy on the intro: Don’t talk. Just listen. Then the beat drops and you can hear K-Ci and Jojo singing in the background. Once Jojo hit that “Uhhhh Yeah” you know you’re in for a ride. It just doesn’t get any better than this and that’s why Jodeci’s Stay is No. 1 on out list.

R&B Songs

The Almosts

So what songs just missed out on being added to the Top Ten list? Unfortunately, all deserving parties couldn’t make the list. These three were ones that would have been 11 thru 13 if the list had been longer. Still great songs of the 90s, but not quite good enough to crack the Top Ten:

11. My My My | Johnny Gil

Johnny Gil has one of the best voice (r&b or otherwise) in the industry. Ever.

12. Weak | SWV

It was tough for me to leave SWV completely off the list.

13. Waterfalls | TLC

This song defined TLC’s career.


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