DAR Retro: 15 Great Songs Written By Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis

By @TrueGodImmortal

The Minnesota production and songwriting duo of Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis has been one of the most spectacular songwriting duos of all time, maybe the most prolific honestly. Working with a select few, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have produced a lot of amazing tracks, but most of all, their knack for writing hits and singles is what made them so special. Today, I wanted to look at 15 songs that really shows you how great their songwriting is, and why they are two of the best to ever do it. Let's take a look at 15 amazing songs written by Jam and Lewis.

*Cheryl Lynn- Encore (1983)

-One of my favorite Jam and Lewis compositions is extremely catchy, and slightly hilarious. Songstress Cheryl Lynn let her voice resound on the hook of this and throughout the verses. I remember being unsure of who sung this (as far as man or woman) because the vocals were so strong and that's probably a good thing. The song is so vocally strong that it commands attention from listeners. It's upbeat, infectious, and easily a top song from the pen of Jam and Lewis.

*The S.O.S. Band- Tell Me If You Still Care (1983)

-I've spoken very positively about this song and rightfully so. It's 80s R&B euphoria, with resounding keys and booming drums backed by one of the most infectious choruses I've ever heard. The verses flow pretty smoothly, and the way the song builds up to the small bridge at the end of each verse, and goes right into the hook is superb execution. Of all the songs on this list, this honestly might be my personal favorite. If you're not familiar with this classic, shame on you honestly. Take a listen right now. At this very moment.

*Force MDs- Tender Love (1985)

-When we look at ballads from the 80s, there are a lot of them that truly stand the test of time and become iconic, and this is one of them. From the opening sounds of the melody to the first lyrics sung, this song captures your attention and then carries it over to the iconic hook, which flows so well. I think this might be one of the most popular Jam and Lewis songs and honestly, if I had to pick a song from this list that embodies Jam and Lewis as writers and producers, this might be the one.

*Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal- Saturday Love (1985)

-Truthfully, we know that Jam and Lewis ran the 80s with their production and their pens. This song is a prime example of how they could effortlessly craft a hit. With this track, they gave a very smooth production, and fit in one of the most catchy hooks in history. The kicker here is that the hook is the most simplistic one ever.... the basis of it just literally recites the days of the week, but it's executed so smoothly that it inspires you to sing along instantly. For me, this is a top 5 Jam and Lewis penned song, maybe top 3. It's that good.

*Janet Jackson- Let's Wait Awhile (1986)

-Ballads are definitely a specialty of Jam and Lewis and this was clearly no different. They gave Janet a number of hits, but with this track, they smoothed it out and let her sing about waiting for that next step. It was a much different single than songs like "Control" and "Nasty", as it showcased a side of Janet that we expected from previous years. It wasn't often that a song about abstinence actually sounded so good. It feels funny writing that, but this is a classic and an unlikely one at that.

*Alexander O'Neal featuring Cherrelle- Never Knew Love Like This (1987)

-I loved this song the first time I heard it and once I found out that Jam and Lewis penned this one, it became an even bigger favorite of mine. I think the chemistry between Cherrelle and Alexander was top notch and when you pair the two with the writing skills of Jam and Lewis over this smooth production, you get a true gem that still plays very well even 30 years later.

*New Edition- Can You Stand The Rain (1988)

-The ultimate New Jack Swing era ballad released on the greatest album work of Jam and Lewis' career, Heartbreak. They laced New Edition with some of their absolute best music, and none could be more important than this track. With great lead vocals from Johnny Gill, accompanying vocals from Ralph, and an excellent bridge from Ricky, this song just has an epic feel to it. I still listen to this song and album regularly and I think Jam and Lewis have never been able to top it. It's so timeless and perfectly executed.

*Ralph Tresvant- Sensitivity (1990)

-There are some songs that truly capture what R&B is all about and this is one of those songs. The song isn't about being the man, or even just sex, this song is essentially an anthem for the brothers who just want to love their women. Okay, maybe I'm putting too much on it, but this song is a true classic and the writing on this track is superb from the verses to the bridge to the pacing of the song and of course, the hook. Ralph didn't have a lot of big solo moments, but this was his biggest one and Jam and Lewis were hugely responsible for that.

*Johnny Gill- Rub You The Right Way (1990)

-New Jack Swing was a beautiful time in music and no one was more responsible for some of the best songs of the era like Jam and Lewis. They knew the sound, they crafted it, and they are two of the pioneers of the entire movement. This is a later New Jack Swing era anthem, as Jam and Lewis gave Johnny a song that would play in the cars, the club, and possibly the bedroom. This song can inspire you to nod your head, dance, or get comfortable with the lady in your life. This is an all purpose Jam and Lewis penned gem that still has bounce to it today.

*Sounds Of Blackness- Optimistic (1991)

-I will be honest. I had no idea that this song was penned by Jam and Lewis and I felt terrible about that. However, with a listen to the track with that knowledge, I can actually see that being the case. It's very catchy and positive, but the melodic hook flows so well that it almost has the signature of Jam and Lewis. I listen to this song from time to time and it still sounds great some 26 years later. 

*Janet Jackson- That's The Way Love Goes (1993)

-This is a classic. A true gem. Janet had some great tracks on 1993 classic album, but this was the one. It had a nice beat to it, with smooth melodic vocals throughout, and Janet owns this record. It's seductive, alluring, and just flows perfectly, making it a song that will stand the test of time, and honestly, it still sounds great today. Janet was blessed with many gems from Jam and Lewis, but this is definitely in the running for the best one.

*Boyz II Men- On Bended Knee (1994)

-Everyone knows this song. Everyone loves this song. Well most of us at least. One of the most popular Boyz II Men songs is a true gem written by Jam and Lewis. This is a ballad that allowed the group to sing to their lovers and let them know they don't want to lose the love they have and would do anything to make it work. This song is truly special and one of the better Jam and Lewis singles, and a legendary Boyz II Men track.

*New Edition- I'm Still In Love With You (1996)

-This was the comeback single for the legendary group and it went underappreciated at one point if you ask me. New Edition returned in 1996, and while Home Again had a number of great songs, this was the best and the most true to the classic NE vibe. It sounded like it could have been a hit on Heartbreak, and that's the mark of a classic. The hook is the best part of this track, but it is all well put together, and a true return to form for one of the greatest groups of all time, all thanks to Jam and Lewis.

*Mary J. Blige- Everything (1997)

-Backed by a smooth and recognizable sample of The Stylistics, the third single from Mary's album Share My World was a huge hit. What you might have not known was that it was Jimmy and Terry behind the boards and the pen. The production is simple and smooth, but the true carrier of the track is Mary with her soulful vocals and the delivery of the hook. This is an underrated Jam and Lewis penned gem that was a huge hit for Mary.

*Ginuwine, Case, Tyrese, and RL- The Best Man I Can Be (1999)

-The final song on my list is one that surprisingly, I forgot was even penned by the dynamic duo. With four 90s R&B artists who were popular at the time, they created a song that was essentially about black male empowerment in a way. It was different than the usual Jam and Lewis track, and for that, it gets mentioned here. I listened to this track the other day, and it still flows pretty well, and it's a shame we don't have more R&B tracks like that today. We need more writers in this era like Jam and Lewis, who can craft hits the right way. That's their legacy. Crafting hits and classics. The right way.



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