40. TLC “No Scrubs” (1999)

Writers: Kevin “Shek’spere” Briggs, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, Kandi Burruss, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes | Producer: Kevin “Shek’spere” Briggs | #1 R&B (5 weeks)

TLC’s progression throughout the 1990s was one of continual maturity. That maturity reached its apex with Fan Mail, for which “No Scrubs” was the lead single. What began as a fairly typical teen group smartly kept in touch with the decade’s musical evolution, a shift nowhere more evident than in “No Scrubs” (which is light years away from something like say, “Hat 2 Da Back”).  Spurred by an iconic Hype Williams video clip, “No Scrubs” enjoyed four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, which in turn helped to give TLC their first number one LP. Indeed, the success of “No Scrubs” paved the way for a chart-topping follow up (“Unpretty”) and a successful world tour; the group seemed at the top of their game, although it would sadly be their final triumph in light of Lisa Lopes’ death three years later.  (Dr. Gonzo)

39. New Edition “Hit Me Off” (1996)

Writers: Silky, Dinky Bingham, Jeff Dyson, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivins, Bob James | Producer: Silky | #1 R&B (3 weeks)

This track could survive on groove alone, but add six (not so) old pros, trading verses and lines like a post hip-hop Temptations, and you’ve got a comeback. Biv and Devoe kill it on the rap too. Beantown! (Carlos Halston)

38. En Vogue “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (1996)

Writers: Marqueze Etheridge, Andrea Martin, Ivan Barias, Organized Noize | Producers: Organized Noize | #1 R&B (1 week)

The most perfect of perfect storms, ’90s girl group division: known for boatloads of defiant attitude and vocal chops to boot, En Vogue were the femmes fatale of the decade, but it’s the obsessive, enormous “Don’t Let Go (Love)” that remains their most enduring classic. The fade-in alone is evocative enough: ominous, dramatic piano chords, whisper-to-a-scream adlibs, an acid-fried guitar lick, a sense of purpose. It’s one of the most satisfying give and takes in all of pop music, each verse building to an inevitable climax (seriously, those chords – they interlock like missing puzzle pieces, servicing something much larger), those climaxes arriving with spine-chilling four-part harmonies and piercing wails. The pre-chorus alone is a masterclass in musical tension and pop majesty; the song’s whole would still blow minds today. (Drew)

37. Tony! Toni! Tone! “If I Had No Loot” (1993)

Writers: Juan Bautista, Will Harris, Raphael Wiggins | Producers: Tony! Toni! Tone! | #8 R&B

Almost like a ’90s update of the O’Jays classic “Back Stabbers,” Tony! Toni! Tone!’s 1993 smash “If I Had No Loot” warned freeloading, fake friends to step the hell off. So what if the country was in full economic bloom? Raphael, Dwayne and Tim wanted to hold on to their ends. They did so (and made more dough for themselves) with a groove that was funkier than 3-day old sweatpants. The sample of Ice Cube bellowing “you can new jack swing on my nuts!” from “The Nigga Ya Love To Hate” was the icing on the cake, and also served notice that TTT were on some other shit from their R&B counterparts. (Big Money)

36. Lisa Stansfield “All Around The World” (1990)

Writers: Ian Devaney, Andy Morris & Lisa Stansfield | Producers: Ian Devaney & Andy Morris | #1 R&B (2 weeks)

Brits were running shit on the R&B tip in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Jazzie B & Soul II Soul had the game on lock in 1989, but there was also Terence Trent D’Arby, Loose Ends, Neneh Cherry, The Chimes and The Pasadenas, to name a few. And then came Lisa Stansfield. Pale and demure, she made her entrance on Coldcut’s pumping house jam “People Hold On.” A few months later, she slowed the tempo, got her Barry White voice on, and gave us a stone classic in “All Around The World.” Boasting an addictive chorus and a perfectly modulated vocal performance, the song skyrocketed to the top of urban radio playlists despite the fact that, like fellow Brit Rick Astley, it took some time to believe that that voice could come out of that face. Of course, we all know that color has no bearing on “soulfulness” and that Lisa Stansfield was just continuing in the tradition of artists like Dusty Springfield (and clearing a path for artists like Adele.) Still, who would have pictured this girl as an R&B goddess? (Big Money)

35. En Vogue “Hold On” (1990)

Writers: Thomas McElroy, Denzil Foster, En Vogue | Producers; Foster & McElroy | #1 R&B (2 weeks)

Where do we begin?  How about being the quintessential female group since the Supremes.  Yes I said the Supremes.  Their names – Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis. Many have come and gone but none have had the vocal impact of En Vogue.  Don’t believe me take a listen to their catalog starting with Hold On.  It was their debut single from their platinum debut Born To Sing.  The track is an infectious, up-beat ditty that only scratched surface of their talent.  It was a mix of hip-hop, soul, and pop with true-to-life vocal ability (damn Autotune).  It reached the top 10 in many of the important music lists including the US Billboard Hot 100, US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and UK Singles Chart.  It received awards from Billboard and Soul Train and a Grammy nomination.  There was no better way to say hello to the music world than with this chart topper. (Peter)

34. Bell Biv DeVoe “Do Me!” (1990)

Writers: Carl Bourelly, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe | Producers: Bell Biv DeVoe & Carl Bourelly | #4 R&B

22 years later-you know what stands out most in my mind about this song? How fucking nasty it is. I don’t know if it was ignorance on the part of radio programmers or if we were just in a more innocent time, but holy shit, how did this song get on the radio? “Do Me!” eases sleaze, but it’s so damn good. Hell, maybe that’s why it ended up on the radio anyway. “Smack it up, flip it, rub it down…oh no!” remains a catchphrase, Ron DeVoe’s rap set the stage for at least 10 years of R. Kelly sexual encounters, and the BBD guys stepped that much further away from the candy-sweet New Edition image. (Big Money)

33. Boyz II Men “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” (1991)

Writers: Freddie Perren & Christine Yarian | Producer: Dallas Austin | #1 R&B

Back in the Seventies, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” (as performed by Spinners vocalist G.C. Cameron) provided the closing music to the coming-of-age flick “Cooley High.” When four kids from Philly decided to name their debut album Cooleyhighharmony, it only made sense that they covered the tune. In the process, they made it their own. Boyz II Men made history by sending a song with no instrumentation whatsoever to the top of the pop and R&B charts. If you had to attend a funeral or a graduation ceremony at anytime from 1992-1994 or so (I did both) then chances are you heard “It’s So Hard,” in either the BIIM incarnation or butchered by your high school’s chorus. (Big Money)

32. Jodeci “Cry For You” (1993)

Writer: DeVante Swing | Producer: DeVante Swing | #1 R&B (4 weeks)

BABYIMBEGGINGBABYIMBEGGINGBABYBABY

No one…NO ONE…begs as hard as K-ci and Jojo beg on this song. By the end of the song, you’d have forgiven these dudes if they broke up with you, robbed your house and stabbed the dog.

I guess when you look like the Hailey brothers, your begging game has to be extra tight, right? (Big Money)

31. Toni Braxton “Another Sad Love Song” (1993)

Writers: Babyface, Daryl Simmons | Producers; L.A. Reid, Babyface & Daryl Simmons | #2 R&B

For almost a decade, Babyface had the hottest pen in the music game, no matter the genre. Toni Braxton’s “Another Sad Love Song” finds ‘Face at the peak of his talents. Toni, still burning from the aftermath of a failed relationship, can’t escape the memory of her former love every time the radio gets turned on. Doesn’t matter whether the song’s fast or slow–all she seems to hear is sad love songs. Haunting her. This song sort of cast Toni’s image as the “unlucky in love” singer for years–I’m not sure she’s broken out of that yet. (Big Money)

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