With groups like En Vogue, BLACKstreet and Bell Biv DeVoe releasing hits left and right, making a list for the 10 Best R&B Songs of the '90s is as hard as deciding which member of TLC is the coolest. These songs were huge hits and made the '90s a danceable decade, grunge withstanding.
- “Waterfalls.” TLC could take up this entire list (with the help of songs like “Creep,” “No Scrubs,” and “Unpretty), but that just wouldn’t be fair to poor little Michael Jackson and Prince. A cautionary tale about drugs and HIV, this song was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards and is one of the best R&B songs of the '90s.
- “No Diggity.” With its bluesy “mm hmm” vocal hook sampled from Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands," this is the definition of slow jam; it exudes sex at every grinding start and stop. BLACKstreet has “got to bag it up.” Is that a call for safe sex or some sort of weird fetish?
- “Remember The Time.” Jackson was a trailblazer in the 1980’s, but he followed the trend toward new jack swing in the early 90’s with this smooth joint off “Dangerous.” Though not “classic" MJ, it’s still a great mid-paced dance song and one of the best R&B songs of the ‘90s.
- “Cream.“ Prince reigned over the 80’s, but, like Michael Jackson, slipped a little in the '90s. This dirty hit, built on a blues progression, finds Prince in his pre-Artist days sexing it up and asking somebody to "get on top." Now what could he mean?
- “Tyrone.” Remember soul? Aretha Franklin? All that jazz? Erykah Badu brought true soul back to the charts with this song off her 1997 “Live” album. The song, which chastises a selfish boyfriend (what guy wouldn’t be bowing at this goddess's feet?), was one of the best R&B songs of the '90s and helped Badu, born Erica Abi Wright, gain the deserved title of “Queen of Neo Soul.”
- “This is How We Do It.” If the "10 Best R&B Songs of the ‘90s" came out on CD, this song would be playing on the TV ad. Montell Jordan’s debut new jack swing-styled single was the party anthem of 1995. “It’s Friday night and I feel alright.” Still works today.
- “Poison.” Released right at the top of the decade, Bell Biv DeVoe’s 1990 single laid the groundwork for all the other R&B songs of the ‘90s with its smooth new jack swing and hip-hop influenced production. Boyz II Men took this song, slowed it down, poured sugar on top and made a career out of it.
- "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It.)" En Vogue brought girl groups back in the '90s with this sassy 1992 single that sampled the guitar riff from the Godfather of Soul James Brown’s “The Payback.” Thank En Vogue for having to try harder every time this song comes on at a bar. You can’t diss on the breakdown though, no way. Definitely one of the best R&B songs of the '90s.
- "You Make Me Wanna." Ladies will always put Usher before you after hearing this song, but at least you can throw this on and hope they’ll someday pay attention. The chorus is chill and the acoustic guitar loop gives it character. It helped bridge the gap between '90s and '00s R&B and is one of the best R&B songs of the '90s.
- "Bills, Bills, Bills." Before Beyonce became the early 21st century’s “It” girl, she was a member of this late '90s answer to TLC. Like T-Boz, Left eye and Chili, the group told off dirtbag dudes and managed to pull of a minor chord pop song nicely. Don't front.
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