Scroll to the bottom of this list to find older entries.

90. Toni Braxton “Un-break My Heart” (1996)

Writer: Diane Warren | Producer: David Foster | #2 R&B

Toni, Toni, Toni, what can I say to you to truly express what you’ve done for my awkward pre-teenage existence? My hairbrush saw a lot of you, my first junior high dance where I was shoved apart with a ruler by a fiesty nun. Any true angst could be felt deep in the soul listening to Toni’s velvety vibrato. Passion and I’m tearing up listening to it as I type this. Pardon me while I get something to lip-sync. (Bridget)

89. Quincy Jones (featuring Al B. Sure!, James Ingram, El DeBarge & Barry White) “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” (1989) *reached it’s chart peak in 1990, so we’re counting it!

Writers: Rod Temperton, Quincy Jones, Siedah Garrett, El DeBarge | Producer: Quincy Jones | #1 R&B (1 week)

“The Secret Garden” is a song of sexual seduction. Quincy Jones, the mastermind behind the production, knew exactly which set of characters to cast for this sensual soundtrack.  A baritone voiced Barry White has pillow talk with a special lady friend trying to get her to reveal intimates secrets shared between a man and woman. Al B. Sure follows behind playing the role of a psychic while attempting to read a woman’s near future confidential encounter. James Ingram hits the chords of music harmonizing ecstasy with his lady friend. El Debarge holds no words back and gets straight to the point about his physical wants for his companion. Barry comes reengages his woman by showing her what a man is supposed to do. Just when you think it’s all over, the quartet meets at the end and collectively assures their women that the sexual deeds are going to satisfactorily get done. (June)

88. Michael Jackson “Jam” (1991)

Writers: Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley, Rene Moore, Bruce Swedien, Heavy D. (uncredited) | Producers: Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley, Bruce Swedien | #3 R&B

Michael Jackson entered the contemporary R&B era with 1991’s Dangerous. The album’s statement of purpose was made clear with the crashing of glass that opens the first song, “Jam.” Over a rugged beat provided by Teddy Riley (co-written with Jackson, Bruce Swedien and Rene Moore,) Michael spits out words that reveal his struggle for peace against the many ills of the world. “I just want you to recognize me in the temple,” he sings. “You can’t hurt me, I’ve found peace within my life.” If only that had been the truth in real life. Heavy D. breaks the tension mid-song with the first rap bridge to be recorded on an MJ track (Vincent Price on “Thriller” aside.) Sadly, both MJ and Hev are gone, but “Jam” lives on, and it still slams…hard. (Big Money)

87. Michael Jackson (Duet With Janet Jackson) “Scream” (1995)

Writers: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis | Producers: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson | #2 R&B

Another persecution blues from Mike…

MJ and JJ sound positively giddy here, unburdening themselves of years of pent-up “Jackson Anger” over a space-age Jam & Lewis production (the Flyte Tyme remix is hot too!).

Pissed-off paranoid pop… from the Pope of such things. (Carlos Halston)

86. Jon B. “They Don’t Know” (1997)

Writers: Tim Kelley, Bob Robinson, Jonathan Buck | Producers: Tim & Bob | #2 R&B

It is sometimes hard to get away from a negative past; especially when it comes to matters of the heart. A young man is on trial for his past relationship mistakes. Discovered by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmunds, soulful artist Jon B. pleads his case to his new love as he advises her to disregard negative comments told to her by her girlfriends. The Tim & Bob produced ballot, “They Don’t Know” marks the ending of a trifling life a man once led when he finds an angel of a woman to start a new with. Trust issues haunt the relationship but Jon is content and is adamant about making it work. (June)

85. Tony! Toni! Tone! “Lay Your Head On My Pillow” (1993)

Writers: Raphael Wiggins & Dwayne Wiggins | Producers: Tony! Toni! Tone! | #4 R&B

Sons of Soul was almost like an R&B primer, with Tony! Toni! Tone! practically inventing neo-soul by fusing disparate elements of soul music’s past and entwining them with a hip-hop vibe. “Lay Your Head On My Pillow” had a bit of an Isley Brothers vibe, adding a little contemporary West Coast swag and even some countrified slide guitar. All of these elements came together to create a sure-fire panty dropper, guaranteed to raise the temperature in the boudoir. Not an easy task when 1993-era Raphael Wiggins (later Saadiq) still looked like Jimmie Walker circa 1974 and sounded far younger than his twenty-something years. The Tonyies took things to another level later that year when they decided to cut a video for “Pillow”-in the nude. (Big Money)

84. Mariah Carey “Emotions” (1991)

Writers: Mariah Carey, David Cole, Robert Clivilles | Producers: David Cole, Robert Clivilles, Mariah Carey | #1 R&B (1 week)

Mariah Carey (and her record company, Columbia) were determined to successfully follow up the singer’s Grammy-winning debut. To ensure hit status, they turned to Robert Clivilles and David Cole, who were atop the charts for most of 1991 as C+C Music Factory. Out of those sessions came the song that would be the title track, “Emotions.” The bubbly tune cruised to #1 on the pop charts, making Mariah the first artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 with their first five singles. Mariah’s vocal pyrotechnics are on full display here, but what surprises most after two decades is the fact that the song is pretty much a baldfaced rip of “Best of My Love,” the classic proto-disco jam by…The Emotions. Is that ballsy or what? (Big Money)

83. JOE “All The Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” (1996)

Writers: Joe Thomas, Joshua Thompson, Michele Williams | Producers: Joe & Joshua Thompson | #2 R&B

I remember hearing this for the first time feeling funny feelings. I know now that it was me wanting to do all those things for a my lady. I want to be Joe in this song. I want to quote parts of this song, and discuss how well this fits on a Baby Maker playlist…But that might not be so kosher for some eyes. Just know, a lot of babies happened to this. (Bridget)

82. Dru Hill “5 Steps” (1996)

Writers: Tamir “Nokio” Ruffin, James Green, Wendi Miller | Producers: Stanley Brown & Nokio | #7 R&B (airplay only)

While “Tell Me,” “In My Bed” and “Never Make a Promise” were the biggest hits from Dru Hill’s self-titled debut, the album’s best song is the closing ballad, “5 Steps.” Showing off those gospel harmonies to their fullest potential, Sisqo and company unleash a jaw-dropping vocal performance here. Add in a dramatic instrumental arrangement, and it’s spine-tingling city. B-more’s finest should’ve stayed in this lane instead of trying to do the R&B thug thing, “Thong Song”‘s success be damned. (Big Money)

81. Michael Jackson “You Are Not Alone” (1995)

Writer: R. Kelly | Producers: R. Kelly and Michael Jackson | #1 R&B

There are many tasteless jokes that one can make about the pairing of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, but one thing that’s absolutely true is that the two made history-1995’s “You Are Not Alone” became the first song ever to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Chart success aside, this song provided a welcome moment of calm amidst the tension of HIStory. The Arr-uh provided a simple arrangement and let Michael do what he did best-sing. That weird video with Michael and Lisa Marie laying around nekkid, though? We can forget that one. (Big Money)

Here’s 100-91

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