DAR Music: 8 Classic 2000's R&B Singles
When we look back at the previous decade of R&B, we'll notice that the era was full of classic singles more so than great albums. As you saw in the previous week's article, we looked at the greatest years of music in that decade, but today, we're going to take a look at some of the greatest singles of the era. It was tough to choose this list mainly because I didn't want to select all of the obvious choices that would dominate most of the usual lists. I narrowed the list down to 8 particular classics, and I think all of these aged well and still great to listen to. Let's take a look.
*D'Angelo- Untitled/How Does It Feel (2000)
-When I look back on the singles from the decade, this is my favorite personally. Inspired by the earlier work of Prince, the sexually charged ballad is bristling with soul and funk sensibilities. The song was written and produced by both D'Angelo and Raphael Saadiq, and they combine to make something beyond timeless. The measures, the signatures, the drum pattern (Questlove on the drums), and of course that bass guitar all work together for a beautiful marriage of melodic soul. The single version of this song is great, but the best part of the song comes on the album version, with the extended version. The song became popular and would be immortalized due to the music video, but the biggest confirmation of this song's classic status came when it won a Grammy. This might be the greatest single in D'Angelo's career.
*Alicia Keys- You Don't Know My Name (2003)
-We all know this song very well. It's one of the most infamous, if not THE most infamous Alicia Keys songs, and it's easily her most soulful and catchy. Backed by one of the most soulful beats from Kanye West, Alicia floats over the minimal drums and The Main Ingredient sample. The song would end up being a massive hit for Alicia, landing in the top 3 of the Billboard 100, and it spent 8 weeks at no. 1 on the R&B charts. The music video would also make the song even bigger in popularity, but there's no denying, popularity aside, this is easily one of the greatest Alicia Keys songs. It's definitely my favorite and the best produced track in her career, in my opinion.
*Mario- Let Me Love You (2004)
-You probably heard this song all over your radio during the year 2004 and rightfully so. It was an anthem that fit perfectly for those searching for love with someone they see being done wrong. While personally I can't relate to this song, I do recognize how powerful the song was during the release and after. Produced by Scott Storch and written by Ne-Yo, this slightly upbeat ballad took over the charts, landing at the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 100 for 9 consecutive weeks, and being solidified as Mario's biggest single. This single was certified double platinum and is ranked highly on most of the lists for this decade. When we look back on 2000's R&B, "Let Me Love You" might be the biggest surprise hit of the decade.
*The Isley Brothers featuring Chante Moore and R. Kelly- Contagious (2001)
-You know this song all too well. You've sung it time and time again. In your car, you and your friend sing it together with each of you assigned a part. When you're alone, you sing all of the parts and when you see the music video, you anticipate the scenes. Honestly? This might be the most iconic of the classic singles listed here. From the start of the song ("it's 2AM, I'm just getting in, about to check my message... no one has called but my homies and some bill collector") all the way up to the confrontational finish, this R. Kelly produced and penned gem is the continuation of the Mr. Biggs saga that began on another classic "Down Low". This mini dramatic soap opera styled song is about as flawless as you can get, and a big credit must be given to the unsung hero of the song, Chante Moore, as her part is probably the most underappreciated aspect of this classic track.
*John Legend- Ordinary People (2004)
-If there is one artist known for piano led ballads in modern times, it would have to be John Legend. While his catalog is full of love ballads and songs for the lover in you, he would hit it big with his first true hit single, the Will I. Am assisted "Ordinary People". The song speaks to the truth in relationships, as John sings about leaving the honeymoon phase, battling to keep it together, and recognizing that we've all got room to grow in love and life. This single is probably the most profound of all the songs on this list, and it would end up winning a Grammy Award, proving that this track was indeed a classic.
*Maxwell- Pretty Wings (2009)
-After an 8 year hiatus, this was the first Maxwell single we got to hear, and it arrived in a major way. It was a return to form for Maxwell, as this track would end up landing firmly on the Billboard 100, and going straight to the top of the R&B charts. It remained at no. 1 on the R&B charts for 14 weeks, solidifying the return of Maxwell. Many people love this song, and I've heard some people call it a great love song, but the truth is, the song is one of the most mature breakup ballads in recent memory. It's a bittersweet love song that details a situation that just didn't work out, and everything here from the harmony to the instruments combine to make something that is timeless.
*Omarion- Ice Box (2006)
-Aside from his amazing Pharrell written and Neptunes written single "Touch", this is the only Omarion song that I really enjoyed. Unlike "Touch", this song was a huge success on the Billboard 100, landing in the top 15 and becoming his highest charting song up until that point. The track was produced by the legendary Timbaland along with The Royal Court, who provide a smooth yet engaging beat, as Omarion officially stepped out of the B2K shadow and showed he could make slightly more mature music.
*Ashanti- Foolish (2002)
-Once upon a time, when Murder Inc. was on top of the world, they had a R&B songstress who came and shocked the world. Ashanti debuted with this song, produced by Irv Gotti and 7 Aurelius, and features elements from the classic Debarge song "Stay With Me". Ashanti sings about a love that makes her feel foolish and the ups and downs of a relationship that makes her want to stay, but also want to go. The content of the song isn't the greatest honestly IMO, but it was a hugely successful single that introduced the world to a woman who would become one of the most popular artists over the next few years. This single would end up hitting no. 1 on the Billboard 100 for 10 weeks and made Ashanti a household name. Much like every other song on this list, "Foolish" is a 2000's R&B classic.