If you’re not familiar, this list will introduce you to some of the very best 90s R&B love songs.
The 90s was a golden era for love songs. R&B was fast becoming one of the world’s favourite genres of music and from that, came some of the most iconic performers we still listen to today. Sometimes all it took was one song to shoot an artist into icon status.
From Mariah Carey to Usher to Boyz II Men, the 90s are responsible for some of the sultriest, smoothest romance records in your music collection, many breaking records that were previously held by the likes of the Beatles.
1. Mariah Carey – Fantasy
From Mariah Carey’s 1995 album Daydream, Fantasy expresses the singer’s desire for someone she can’t have but has overwhelming admiration for. The song features superb vocals from the whistle note intro to the throat-bursting belts which had critics across the globe in awe.
The track debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it remained for 8 weeks and refused to leave the top 40 for 23 weeks. Fantasy was so popular, Billboard ranked it at Number 7 on their year-end chart for 1995, cementing Carey as an R&B artist and a strong contender among her peers.
2. Usher – You Make Me Wanna…
Usher’s 1997 hit You Make Me Wanna…, from his album My Way, charted for an extraordinary 46 weeks, debuting at 25 and peaking at Number 2 for 7 weeks. The track endured a 71-week run on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop singles, the longest in history. Across the ocean, the singer had more immediate success, entering the UK singles chart at Number 1.
The track, which talks about turning to another woman in a time of need during a rocky period of his relationship, was nominated for a Grammy and won a Billboard music award. One of the best 90s R&B love songs, and one of the best R&B songs of all time.
3. Aaliya – One in a Million
One in a Million, from Aaliya’s 1996 album, expresses the singer’s adoration of her partner even though she was only 17 at the time of recording.
Taken under the wing of Missy Elliot and Timberland, Aaliyah’s brief but iconic career changed the R&B landscape for all future artists and is still named as an influence for many aspiring musicians.
One in a Million peaked at Number 25 on US Radio Songs and Number 15 on the UK Singles Chart. Unfortunately, the track couldn’t chart in the Billboard Hot 100 as it was released as a radio-only song.
4. Brandy and Monica – The Boy is Mine
The Boy is Mine marks the first Number 1 collaboration between two women since 1979. Who better to break that record than Brandy and Monica, two highly talented, influential women of the 1990s.
This track gave both singers their first Number 1 hit and ended up being one of the longest running Number 1 singles in US chart history, staying in that top position for 13 weeks.
The tune is inspired by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s 80s hit The Girl is Mine and found popularity again more recently when it became a trend on TikTok.
The song is a classic and definitely amongst the best 90s R&B love songs.
5. Mary J. Blige – Real Love
Mary J. Blige is a name that certainly did not get lost in the 90s and is still a household name that many recognise today. With 9 Grammy awards and the title “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” to her name, Blige is brushing her fingertips on iconic status.
Her smash hit Real Love taken from What’s the 411? (1992) became Blige’s first top ten hit enderting the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 7 and the UK Singles Chart at 26. Although not the world-stopping chart topper some may think is deserved, Rolling Stone Magazine included the track in their list of 500 Best Songs of all Time.
6. SWV – Weak
SWV’s Weak topped the US Billboard Chart for 2 weeks selling over one million copies. The track, from 1992s It’s About Time, tells the story of a young person falling in love for the first time and certainly tapped into listeners nostalgia for their first love as it charted in the UK, Australia and New Zealand as well as the States.
Billboard ranked the song at number 72 on their list of 100 greatest girl group songs of all time, throwing it in with music industry titans such as Destiny’s Child, The Supremes and more recently, Little Mix.
7. D’Angelo – Lady
Lady soon became D’Angelo’s biggest hit to date. It expresses the deep admiration the singer has for his lover. The lyrics convey a sense of worry that others may be interested in his partner and his deep desire to keep her as his.
Taken from his 1995 album Brown Sugar, the song peaked at Number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for a Grammy. Hip Hop artist Drake is clearly a fan of this ode to a woman as in 2018, he sampled Lady on his track March 14.
D’Angelo is one of the most influential R&B artists of all time, and this track is definitely amongst the best 90s R&B love songs.
8. H-Town – Knockin’ Da Boots
H-Town’s debut single Knockin’ Da Boots, from their 1993 album Fever for da Flavour, was one of the biggest R&B singles of 1993, according to Billboard. It topped the R&B charts for four weeks and peaked at Number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks.
Knockin’ da Boots talks about the singer’s desire to make love to their partner all night long, a typical theme for songs of this genre. The song sold over 1.1 million copies and was therefore certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
9. Tony! Toni! Toné! – Feels Good
Tony! Toni! Toné!’s track Feels Good samples elements from Lyn Collins’ Think About It. Using vibes from the sample and their own R&B sound, the band created an instant 90s classic that fused R&B, Pop and a classic New Jack Swing beat.
Embodying the elements that defined the era, Feels Good, from the album The Revival,1990, landed the group in the Top 10 for the first time and gave them two weeks at the Number 1 spot on the US R&B Chart.
10. Ghost Town DJs – My Boo
Ghost Town DJ’s My Boo is the only one-hit wonder on this list. This track is the bands only single released yet still made waves both upon release and more recently in 2016.
In 1996, the initial release year, the track only peaked at 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, not a terrific entry. However, the song was made popular again more recently during an internet trend. The ‘Running Man Challenge’ reignited a flame under the song and it re-entered the charts, peaking at Number 27, beating it’s release entry 20 years later.
The track also did well in New Zealand, landing the Number 3 spot.
11. Boyz II Men – On Bended Knee
Boyz II Men were one of the biggest boy bands of the 1990s. It seemed for a while they could do no wrong producing hit after hit after hit.
On Bended Knee, a heartbreaking track about trying to win back a past lover, is arguably their most successful single. On its release, the band replaced themselves as Number 1, the first time the feat had been achieved since the Beatles.
The track stayed at Number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks and also reached Number 2 on the Hot Singles Sales. An essential track from the era, and definitely one of the best 90s R&B love songs.
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