I was tempted to do 15 songs so I could add another 5 songs from The Weeknd.
R&B has surrounded the charts for decades, since the days of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell to be precise, but every few years a new wave of the genre is welcomed, often influenced by Pop, Alt, Disco, Rap, Electronica and much more. Today I decided to search the internet for information about my favourite R&B songs of the last decade, which also happen to the best.
Thinking Bout You – Frank Ocean
It’s obvious that Thinkin Bout You is the song that introduced Frank Ocean, who was 24 at the time, to the music scene. Particularly the R&B music scene, seeing as the song reached number 7 on the US R&B charts, which was amazing for a new artists with a debut album. He now continues to contribute to the genre, leading the new wave of R&B/Funk.
That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars
2017 was a big year for Bruno Mars, as was 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2021. So really, Bruno has always been consistent and has never let us down with his music. For the 24k magic album, Mars worked with Producers Shampoo Press & Curl to create some amazing tracks, including the leading singles 24k magic and That’s what I like, which reached number one on The Billboard Hot 100. In fact Bruno told Billboard in an interview that he wanted people to feel fabulous when listening to the album, and that on this song he does this by talking about ‘eating shrimp scampi and lobster tails and drinking strawberry champagne.’
Love On Top – Beyonce
This timeless tune by Beyoncé reached number one on the R&B charts in 2011 yet failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 unlike it’s album sister Run The World (Girls), which I personally thought wasn’t as strong a single as Love On Top. The song came at a time where R&B was mixing with Rap and Disco, so Beyonce brought back this more Etta-James-Style R&B song after playing her in a 2008 biopic, saying that it gave her more confidence and the push to challenge herself more with her music.
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
Mirrors, according to Justin Timberlake, is a tribute to his grandparents, who at the time had been married for 63 years. However it was later revealed by Timberlake that his wife Jessica Biel inspired the song too, as she is his ’other half’. After debuting at 28, it soon reached number one in the UK, whereas in the US it debuted at 24 and peaked at 3.
All The Stars – Kendrick Lamar ft SZA
It is pretty clear that All The Stars is one of those songs that makes you instantly fall in love with it the first time you hear it. This wasn’t the first time Sza and Lamar worked together, but it was certainly one of the best projects they did alongside each other. In fact it was so good that the pair won multiple nominations for the song, seeing as it was made for the 2018 film Black Panther.
Get Lucky – Daft Punk/Pharrell Williams/Nile Rodgers
Not everyone would consider Get Lucky as an R&B song, what with Wikipedia classifying it Disco, Funk or Pop, but I think Daft Punk blends numerous sounds here to create a new R&B sound that has influenced many modern artists since. The French duo had already gained a little popularity after helping produce Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus, but this upbeat song made for dancing is what lead them to a more mainstream audience.
Good As Hell – Lizzo
When Lizzo made her fabulous entrance to the music scene in 2019, it was as if we’d been missing an important part of the industry for years on end. I was just getting over the masterpiece of Juice when Good As Hell was re-released, entering the charts at 42 and peaking at 7. It soon became a well-known advert hit, and featured in numerous films such as I feel pretty and Brittany runs a marathon.
The Hills – The Weeknd
Obviously I can’t seem to make a list without including The Weeknd, but it is undeniably true that The Hills created a totally new sound that would be extremely difficult to imitate. Here Abel mixed Alt music and trap music with inklings of Electronica to make something that no one could say a bad word about, whether they like Country or Jazz. As a result of this fusion, The Hills peaked at 1 in both Canada and the US, spending over 500 weeks in the Hot 100.
FourFiveSeconds by Rihanna/Paul McCartney/Kanye West
I did think this song was released in 2020 since I only discovered it last year but it turns out the trio of Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney managed to claim the charts for 450 weeks in 2015. It was Rihanna’s 40th chart entry and Paul’s first since 1992. Whilst I have classified FourFiveSeconds as R&B, there are clearly elements of soul and folk within the song.
The Time (Dirty Bit) Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas soured through the 2000s with hits like I got a feeling and Where is the love? but came into the 2010s just as strong with their version of The Time from Dirty Dancing. With heavily electronic choruses and fantastic verses from Fergie, the song reached number 7 on the hot 100, which as you may already know from previous songs is a hard chart to compete with.