The collaboration elevated what could have otherwise been a throwaway track to classic status. Rumoured to be about everything from weed to masturbation, the suggestive lyrics were cleverly buried under a poppy, danceable, uptempo beat that borrowed from the burgeoning electronica movement. Is she hip-hop? Is she soul?
The 20 best R&B songs ever
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Where are the love ballads? Why don't men plead for their love while singing in the rain anymore? Who are the powerhouse singers of today? During that decade, music fans were gifted with a surplus of groups with distinct styles, the emergence of subgenres such as New Jack Swing and neo soul and classic songs being crafted by producers and songwriters such as Babyface, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to name a few. There is no doubt that Mariah Carey was a ruler of the '90s as one of top-selling artists of all time. In the mid-'90s, Aaliyah experimented with new sounds, thanks to the likes of Static Major, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Timbaland is known for making sounds out of anything, and this single from the "Dr. Doolittle" soundtrack showcased a young Timbo in his prime — not to mention, the "Are You That Somebody?
A powerful, vulnerable vocal performance—the kind that artists like Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and Solange have delivered in spades—is key. Whether the instrumental is a lush Motown arrangement with swooning horns and strings or a slinky digital creation, it has to add depth to the record and make the singer sound better. As he often did, Wanya stole the show, particularly on the pre-chorus as he pleads with such sincerity it feels like he might just be able to turn back time. He doesn't focus on the big picture, but instead zooms all the way in on a single soldier: young, impressionable, and unaware of the full gravity of the choice they've made to fight these hollow battles. Many protest songs focused on the war in the abstract, but Withers's song captures the tragedy on an individual scale with precise, heartrending details. This lush, layered track is ironically about cutting to the chase. On "How Does It Feel," D'Angelo promises happiness in exchange for forthrightness, while stacking heavenly, unconventional harmonies like a Jenga tower. In , a young singer named Etta James breathed life into a '40s show tune, putting together a soulful, string-centric arrangement and making it the title track of her debut album. It's a tall task to eclipse an Otis Redding track, but that's what Aretha Franklin did with her take on "Respect. Nina Simone's performance of it remains the definitive one, her voice swelling to a shout and fading to a whisper, simulating the changing tones of voice during a row.