Best 90s R&B Songs – 22 of our Favorites
The 1990s brought about a wave of change and growth in music. As a result, the R&B genre flourished, producing some of the most memorable and iconic songs that still resonate with fans today. This article will explore the best 90s R&B songs that defined the era, their impact on the music industry, and their legacy in contemporary music. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive the golden age of R&B! And in case you missed it, check out our list of 10 classic 90s R&B Albums.
The Golden Era of R&B
The 90s were a transformative period for R&B music. The genre evolved from its soulful roots to incorporate hip-hop, pop, and dance music elements. This fusion led to a new sound that dominated the airwaves and charts throughout the decade. R&B artists such as Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey became household names, and their songs have stood the test of time. So without further ado, let’s dive into the top 22 best 90s R&B songs.
22 of the Best 90s R&B Songs
Boyz II Men – “End of the Road” (1992)
This soulful ballad, produced by legendary songwriter and producer Babyface, became the signature song for Boyz II Men. “End of the Road” topped the charts for a staggering 13 weeks, breaking records and solidifying the group’s place in R&B history.
TLC – “Waterfalls” (1995)
With its catchy chorus and socially conscious lyrics, “Waterfalls” remains one of TLC’s most iconic songs. The track features a blend of R&B and hip-hop elements, showcasing the group’s versatility and talent. And the music video has a 90s aesthetic. The song had a seven-week run at number one on the Billboards charts.
Aaliyah – “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” (1994)
Aaliyah’s debut single, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” demonstrated her impressive vocal abilities and set the stage for her successful career. The song’s catchy melody and relatable lyrics have made it a classic in the R&B genre.
Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You” (1992)
Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton (and everyone should hear Dolly’s original version), Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” became an instant classic. Her powerful vocals and passionate delivery made the song one of the most memorable ballads ever.
Mariah Carey – “Vision of Love” (1990)
Mariah Carey’s debut single, “Vision of Love,” introduced the world to her incredible vocal range and trademark whistle register. This song established her as a powerhouse in the R&B and pop music scenes. She continues to be a significant influence on artists today.
Janet Jackson – “That’s The Way Love Goes” (1993)
With its laid-back groove and sultry vocals, Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” became an instant classic. The song demonstrated Jackson’s versatility as an artist and further solidified her status as a pop and R&B icon.
Toni Braxton – “Un-Break My Heart” (1996)
Toni Braxton’s powerful ballad “Un-Break My Heart” remains one of her most memorable hits. With its emotional lyrics and Braxton’s soulful vocal performance, the song has become a classic in the R&B genre.
SWV – “Weak” (1992)
Sisters With Voices, or SWV, were a prominent R&B trio in the 90s, and their hit song “Weak” became an instant classic. The song showcases the group’s beautiful harmonies and relatable lyrics about love and vulnerability.
Montell Jordan – “This Is How We Do It” (1995)
With its catchy beat and infectious chorus, Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” became a party anthem in the 90s. The song perfectly exemplifies how R&B and hip-hop influences were combined to create a fun and danceable track.
En Vogue – “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (1996)
As one of the most successful female groups of the 90s, En Vogue delivered powerful vocals and harmonies in their hit song “Don’t Let Go (Love).” The track’s heartfelt lyrics and emotional delivery make it a timeless R&B classic.
Mary J. Blige – “Real Love” (1992)
Mary J. Blige, also known as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” significantly impacted the R&B scene with her hit “Real Love.” The song’s fusion of R&B and hip-hop elements and Blige’s soulful vocals helped define her unique sound and secure her place as an R&B icon.
Mariah Carey – “Hero” (1993)
“Hero” is another classic ballad by Mariah Carey that showcases her incredible vocal range and emotional delivery. The song’s inspiring message of finding strength within oneself has resonated with fans for decades.
D’Angelo – “Brown Sugar” (1995)
D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” is a smooth and sultry track that epitomizes the neo-soul movement of the 90s. With its laid-back groove and D’Angelo’s signature vocals, “Brown Sugar” remains a favorite.
Aaliyah – “One in a Million” (1996)
“One in a Million” is another standout track by Aaliyah, featuring her smooth vocals and sultry style. The song, produced by Timbaland and written by Missy Elliott, helped solidify Aaliyah’s status as an innovative artist and a trailblazer in the R&B genre.
Mariah Carey – “Always Be My Baby” (1996)
“Always Be My Baby” is a catchy and upbeat Mariah Carey track revealing her ability to deliver powerful ballads and fun, pop-infused R&B songs. The song’s memorable chorus and Carey’s impeccable vocals have made it an enduring hit.
D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (2000)
While technically released in 2000, D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” is heavily influenced by the 90s R&B sound. The song’s sensual lyrics and D’Angelo’s falsetto vocals made it a standout track and a classic in the neo-soul genre.
Erykah Badu – “Next Lifetime” (1997)
“Next Lifetime” is another popular Erykah Badu song that showcases her unique fusion of R&B, soul, and jazz. The track’s introspective lyrics and Badu’s captivating vocals make it a standout in her discography.
Usher – “You Make Me Wanna…” (1997)
Usher’s smooth and seductive “You Make Me Wanna…” showcased his impressive vocal abilities and became one of his biggest hits. The song’s catchy chorus and heartfelt lyrics remain a fan favorite.
Erykah Badu – “On & On” (1997)
Erykah Badu’s debut single, “On & On,” introduced her unique blend of R&B, soul, and jazz. The song’s introspective lyrics and Badu’s distinctive voice made it an instant hit, and it continues to be regarded as a classic in the neo-soul genre.
Destiny’s Child – “Say My Name” (1999)
Before Beyoncé became a solo superstar, she was a member of Destiny’s Child, and “Say My Name” was one of the group’s biggest hits. This catchy, empowering anthem showcased the group’s tight harmonies and undeniable star power.
Brandy & Monica – “The Boy is Mine” (1998)
This duet between R&B powerhouses Brandy and Monica became a massive hit with its catchy melody and playful lyrics. “The Boy is Mine” demonstrated the incredible talent of both artists and remains a beloved 90s R&B classic.
Our Favorite 90s R&B Song
Aaliyah – “Are You That Somebody” (1998)
“Are You That Somebody” is that iconic late-90s banger with everyone vibing to it like it’s nobody’s business. When those baby coos kick in, you know you’re about to be hit with some serious nostalgia. Aaliyah, our angel of R&B, slayed this track with her smooth vocals and sultry vibe, making it an instant classic. Produced by the legendary Timbaland, the song’s infectious beat and catchy hook had us all questioning whether we were true “that somebody” who could handle the complexities of love and life. It’s no wonder this track became one of Aaliyah’s biggest hits!
Now let’s talk about that epic music video that had everyone talking back in the day. Aaliyah’s dance moves were on fire, and her wardrobe was straight-up fierce. The way she moved, swayed, and grooved in perfect harmony with the beat was enough to make anyone want to jump up and join her. And let’s not forget about Timbaland’s appearance, adding his own unique flavor to the mix. This whole vibe was a testament to the magic that was Aaliyah, who was taken from us way too soon. But hey, at least we’ve got this timeless jam to remind us of her undeniable talent and her impact on the music world.
The Impact of 90s R&B Music
The 90s R&B songs we’ve discussed defined the decade and left an indelible mark on the music industry. Their influence can still be heard in contemporary music, as today’s artists continue to draw inspiration from the iconic sounds of the 90s.
The Legacy and Influence on Today’s Artists
Many of today’s top R&B and pop artists cite the 90s as a significant influence on their music. Artists like Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, and The Weeknd have incorporated elements of 90s R&B into their sound, paying homage to the artists who paved the way. The resurgence of 90s-inspired fashion and nostalgia has also contributed to the enduring appeal of these classic songs.
The best 90s R&B songs represented a unique period in music history when the genre reached new heights of popularity and creativity. The powerful voices, innovative production, and memorable melodies continue to resonate with fans and influence today’s artists. As we celebrate the golden era of R&B, it’s clear that these timeless classics will remain an essential part of our musical landscape for years to come.
1. What made 90s R&B music unique?
90s R&B music was characterized by its fusion of soul, hip-hop, pop, and dance elements. It created a fresh and innovative sound that dominated the airwaves during the decade.
2. Which artists were influential in shaping 90s R&B?
Some of the most influential 90s R&B artists include Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, TLC, Aaliyah, R. Kelly, Janet Jackson, and Usher.
3. How did 90s R&B music impact today’s artists?
Today’s artists often cite 90s R&B as a significant influence on their music, incorporating elements of the genre into their sound and paying homage to the artists who paved the way.
4. Are 90s R&B songs still popular today?
Yes, many 90s R&B songs remain popular and relevant today, as they continue to be enjoyed by fans and inspire contemporary artists.
5. What is the legacy of 90s R&B music?
The legacy of 90s R&B music lies in its enduring appeal, influence on today’s artists, and its role in shaping the sound of modern R&B and pop music. In addition, the timeless classics from this era continue to be celebrated and appreciated by music lovers worldwide.
Still hungry for more r&b? Check out our list of the best r&b songs from the 2000s.
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