DAR Music: The 10 Greatest New Edition Solo Singles

By @TrueGodImmortal

We're almost officially a year removed from the epic three part New Edition miniseries that took over BET and reminded the world just how great New Edition was. While it would be fun to take a look and rank their group singles, today, we wanted to take a look at the solo paths of the group. Whether it was Johnny Gill releasing his solo work before and after his arrival to the group, Bobby Brown stepping out on his own and going solo, or the trio of Bell Biv Devoe and the smooth vocals of Ralph Tresvant, New Edition is that rare group that had all of their members go and find success separately. With that, we wanted to take a look and rank their 10 greatest solo singles. Let's get into it.

10. Bell Biv Devoe- Do Me (1990)

-Although I wasn't the biggest fan of Bell Biv Devoe, truthfully, they were on top of the world at one point after the release of Poison. One of the songs that really helped their success was the sexually charged "Do Me". With the New Jack Swing sound totally in effect here, the song has a pretty nice bounce to it that allows the listener to dance along while reciting the catchy hook. This is a true gem for the BBD catalog and while it doesn't exceed the style or success of "Poison" (and some of the lyrics in the rap verse here are questionable....yeah), this is still pretty much a classic single for the legendary trio.

9. Bobby Brown- Don't Be Cruel (1988)

-So you might be wondering... why would the title track of the greatest solo album from New Edition be so low on the list. Well, it's simple. While serving as the first single from the project, the song didn't resonate as much as some of the other tracks that were released. Now, this LA Reid and Babyface produced and penned track is amazing regardless, and the infectious hook carries the song from being just good to absolutely great. The only issue that I ever really had with this song rests within the rap verses. While they weren't terrible, they always felt a little unnecessary, but it doesn't weigh down the song much. Overall, this title track for his album is a true classic.

8. Bobby Brown- Rock Witcha (1988)

-As you can see, this will be a Bobby Brown heavy list. Truthfully, that's the way it should be. Bobby was the best solo artist from New Edition, and the Don't Be Cruel album changed his fortunes overall. While there were a few ballads on the album, the song that really stuck out to me had to be the classic smooth ballad of the album and the perfect bedroom anthem is "Rock Witcha". Written by Babyface and produced by LA Reid of course, the sound is impeccable, with one of the most infectious hooks on the entire Don't Be Cruel album (which is saying a lot). This could have been higher on the list, but that's how strong the New Edition solo catalog is.

7. Johnny Gill- Rub You The Right Way (1990)

-Ah, New Jack Swing was a great time in music. I can remember the style and the fashion of the era, but what I remember the most are the songs that made you want to dance. The style of dancing in the New Jack Swing era was upbeat and fun, and if there was a song that essentially embodied that, it is this one. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis, this is essentially one of the songs that screams New Jack Swing from the opening note. With an unintentionally hilarious hook (STROKE!), this song is a lot of fun and it showed that Johnny could do more than execute smooth ballads.

6. Bobby Brown- Roni (1988)

-One of the smoothest songs in the history of music. That's not an exaggeration either. Seriously, when it's all said and done, I truly believe this will be on the short list of all time great ballads. In terms of songs on this list, this is my personal favorite. With the LA Reid and Babyface production backing it, Bobby sings about the woman who has his love and heart. The hook is so well done, effortlessly, and is the best part of the entire song. The trio of Babyface, LA Reid, and Bobby really seemed to be undefeated and there was no better proof than this track IMO.

5. Ralph Tresvant- Sensitivity (1990)

-There are some songs that don't hit you right away... and there are others that you can tell are a hit right away. This is the latter. The production has a strangely majestic feel to it, and of course, it is written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who rarely miss with their compositions. Ralph brings the song much more life vocally than any other artist could, and while the lyrics are a bit cheesy, the song overall is a classic. From the bridge to the hook to the smoothly sung verses, "Sensitivity" is a top 5 song in the New Edition solo catalog and I'm certain that this song was influential in a number of ways during that era, for better or worse.

4. Bobby Brown- My Prerogative (1988)

-One of the few tracks here that wasn't produced by Babyface or LA Reid, this Gene Griffin produced track would end up becoming one of the anthems of the New Jack Swing and be the true anthem of Bobby. Lyrically, it was more honest than any other solo Bobby song and it seemed to spit in the face of most of his critics. This single was brash, it was in your face, and with Teddy Riley contributing some production help as well, this song is the epitome of New Jack Swing. Bobby was essentially a wild child in the era of New Edition, and after the talk of his demons became prevalent following his departure from the group, this was the best way to knock the critics down. The song is New Jack Swing in the purest form, with grand bridges and layered hooks backed by a frenzied production. This song is still amazing 30 years later.

3. Johnny Gill- My, My, My (1990)

-Babyface strikes again. The sultry, jazz inspired production by Babyface and LA Reid provides the perfect backdrop for Johnny to serenade the woman of his choice. There were some extra elements here to drive the song to legendary status, some of which you may not have known. The vocals on the hook aren't just Johnny by himself, Babyface (likely one of his reference vocal takes) and After 7 assist him there, and that smooth saxophone that carries the vibe? That is the legendary saxophonist Kenny G. This song is considered to be the signature Johnny Gill track and it is equal parts smooth New Jack Swing, quiet storm jazz, and R&B soul. On any other list, this would very well be no. 1, but that is how stacked the New Edition catalog is that this is merely no. 3.

2. Bell Biv Devoe- Poison (1990)

-Of course, there is no way that we could mention the New Edition catalog without giving some love to the quintessential New Jack Swing anthem. Simply put, Bell Biv Devoe represented the hip hop New Jack Swing side of New Edition and this song was the anthem for so long... and in many ways, is still the anthem today. One, never trust a big butt and a smile. Two, that girl is poison. With those two life lessons passed down, Bell Biv Devoe etched their name in the musical history books forever. Backed by a booming production, alongside rapped verses from Ronnie and Mike, Ricky carries the track vocally and drives home the classic appeal. "Poison" was initially my choice for no. 1, but after listening to my top 3 songs again, it was clean what no. 1 had to be.

1. Bobby Brown- Every Little Step (1988)

-I'll always say that Babyface is the greatest songwriter ever and the fact that 50% of the songs here are penned by him speaks to that fact. However, a majority of his greatest songs tend to be ballads, those smoothly executed songs that don't inspire much upbeat rhythm, but with Bobby Brown, Face was able to make some hits that could be played anywhere, not just when you're relaxing or in the bedroom. There is no greater example than this song (either this or The Whispers "Rock Steady) that shows the power of Babyface and his songwriting. I don't think there's a more infectious song in the entire New Edition solo catalog than "Every Little Step". The production, the verses, and the amazing hook all combine to create one of the greatest listening experiences ever. I've said that Don't Be Cruel is one of the greatest albums ever of the 80's, and without "Every Little Step", it just wouldn't be the same, not to mention the video is legendary.  This is no. 1 period.



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