20 Best R&B Songs of 2015
There were plenty of stellar comebacks in R&B in 2015. After three years, music fans heard Adele’s voice once again with her touching ballad, “Hello.” Prior to that, Frank Ocean beguiled us with his falsettos on “You Are Luhh,” a tribute to Aaliyah’s cover song of "At Your Best (You Are Love)." Rihanna also remerged in the music scene after three years with the drop of a few singles including “Bitch Better Have My Money.”
But there were plenty of R&B newcomers who made their mark in 2015 as well. Artists like Raury, Alessia Cara, Bryson Tiller and Andra Day quickly rose to become notable names in the genre and gained tons of admirers in the process. Whether it was something funky and fresh like Raury’s “Devil’s Whisper” or a smooth song about a girl who prefers being at home than at a party like Alessia Cara’s “Here," there was something for everyone.
Fans continued to see their favorite artists flourish as well with the release of The Weeknd’s sophomore album, Beauty Behind the Madness and Chris Brown’s forthcoming album, Royalty. Rihanna’s Anti is still without a release date and Miguel’s Wildheart had plenty of replay value
Between the sexy wordplays, infectious hooks and booming bass tracks, R&B had a lot to offer. So without further ado, here are the 20 Best R&B Songs of 2015.
Natalie La Rose’s “Somebody” featuring Jeremih provides a traditional catchy hook that’s perfect for partying. Over the infectious drum machine crafted by The Futuristics and Cook Classics, it’s difficult not to find yourself nodding your head to this song. An added bonus lies in the chorus as well which is a spin-off of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” as Jeremih sings “I Wanna rock with somebody / I wanna take shots with somebody / I wanna leave with somebody.”
Lil Wayne starts things off in August Alsina’s “Why I Do It.” His cocky rhymes are a perfect intro to the song about being on your grind and hustle. “I'm flexin' stupid on these n-----, pukin' on these n----- / Sippin' all this drank, Lord I'm juicin' on these n-----,” he raps. Alaina then explains that he doesn’t have to tell you “why I do it,” over the Go Grizzly & Hood Famous co-produced beat. With big horns in playing out in the background, it's a very anthem-worthy track. It can also be the perfect song as you embrace the new you in the new year.
There’s something in this liquor indeed. Chris Brown matches his druggy voice with spacey sounds on “Liquor.” The song is about a guy who has had a bit too much to drink -- or has been drugged. But wrong or not, the drink is definitely getting him in the mood. “What did you slip up in my cup girl? Cause I want some / I had a little bit too much girl, so come over here, whoa” he sings over the Cali the Producer-produced song. Whoa, indeed.
Kehlani shows off her singing chops in “Bright,” a beautiful song about loving yourself. “You are what you choose to be / It's not up to no one else / So be great, be kind / Don't let them dim your light / A woman like a sun should always stay bright” she sings. While we don’t agree that no one can love you unless you love yourself, as she also sings in the song, a message about self-love is always welcomed, especially over the piano keys played by Jahaan Sweet.
With a sample of Brownstone’s classic song “If You Love Me,” Tory Lanez’s “Say It” is easily a winner. The Andrew “Pop” Wansel-produced song takes the ‘94 R&B hit and mixes in a swanky bass line as Lanez sings about getting a girl to meet him on his terms. “You gon have to do more than just (say it) / You gon have to do less when you (do it) / Lil mama you know I (show it) / Always want you to (prove it),” he sings. The accompanying music video also gained over 19 million views on YouTube.
Ciara made a wager and won with “I Bet,” a song about an ex who starts to show interest again after she’s moved on. The song is likely to be about her ex-flame, Future. So it’s an added bonus that it sort of came true once CiCi began dating football player Russell Wilson. But outside of Ciara’s personal drama, the upbeat song manages to bridge an original theme with the songbird's cockiness. And that’s a win for everybody.
Things escalate quickly in Miguel’s “Coffee” but there are no complaints here. “Wordplay, turns into gun play / And gun play turns into pillow talk / And pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / Sweet dreams turns into coffee (f------) in the morning,” he croons. Wale adds some fresh rhymes as well with lyrics like “emulate 50 Shades over Jodeci grooves.” Whoo.
Kelela’s “A Message” serves as the opening track on her EP, Hallucinogen Voice, and for good reason. The Los Angeles native voice soars in the emotional song about a girl who realizes her boyfriend is still pining for his ex. The song’s producer, Arca, also crafts standout stops and pauses that fall in line with Kelela’s poignant lines.“If I was your ex,” pause, “girlfriend,” she sings.
FKA twigs’ “got a goddamn nerve,” as she sings in “In Time.” The eclectic singer definitely hit our emotional nerve as she used a blend of her soft whispering voice with confident lyrics. Her voice countlessly echos throughout the song as well to add extra emphasis. “I will be better and we will be stronger,” she sings over the trance-inducing track that she co-produced.
Raury crafts a foreboding song with “Devil’s Whisper.” “You better run from the devil,” he warns as the backing drums add a sense of emergency. But it’s the surprise rap verse at the end that he drops that takes it over the top. “I can be MLK, I can be Juicy J,” he rhymes.
Alessia Cara took the music world by the storm with her breakout song, “Here.” Taking on the persona of an introvert in the middle of a party, it ironically turned into an anthem for partygoers as well. It’s easily something that many can relate to as well as the Canadian songstress’ powerful voice soars over the smooth head nodding beat by Pop & Oak.
The Weeknd’s “Earned It” was easily one of the sexiest songs of 2015 -- and not just because it was featured in the BDSM-based movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. Between the orchestral productions and Abel Tesfaye’s seductive voice it’s no wonder this song peaked at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "You make it look like it’s magic," he croons as we swoon.
With a mix of trap and soul, Bryson Tiller brought a new sound to R&B and “Don’t” was one of the first testaments to it. In the song, Tiller plays second fiddle as he tries to convince a girl to leave her boyfriend since her boo isn’t giving her the attention that she deserves. Tiller definitely put his home state, Kentucky, on the map with this one and his nod to Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off” makes it all the better.
Rihanna had music fans saying “brrap brrap braap” all summer while they brandished their hands into a finger gun salute to sing “Bitch Better Have My Money.” While Rihanna’s other songs of 2015 like “FourFiveSeconds” and “American Oxygen” took it slow, "BBHMM showed off the cocky and confident RiRi who fans have grown to love. And after three years without an album drop, her next effort, Anti, is causing a lot of hype as it's slated to arrive soon.
Any song with the lyrics “I just f----- two bitches before I saw you,” deserves some sort of accolade. The Weeknd’s “The Hills” druggy yet sensual voice continues to work for the crooner as he sings about being the side dude for a girl -- something he’s more than happy to be. But who can judge -- remember even the hills have eyes.
Jazmine Sullivan got a lot of love this year with her album, Reality Show, and her song “Dumb” is a testament on why. The Key Wane and SaLaAM ReMi-produced song quickly gets into a groove as the Grammy-nominated songstress chides her boo (or ex boo). The song also features pre-Drake feud Meek Mill who was winning at the start of 2015. The "House Party" rapper adds on some poignant rhymes like “With my heart / You have no regard / I swear, if you keep on doing me wrong / You'll look up and I'll be gone” as the song carries out over haunting strings.
After a three-year hiatus, Adele returned in 2015 with her tender ballad, “Hello.” Her voice starts off in a low hum as she sings about calling her ex-love. That is until she reaches the chorus and belts out notes so strong that it’s like she’s been holding them in for the three years she's been gone. The version with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots with classroom instruments is hands-down adorable and wonderful as well.
Leon Bridges brings a much needed old soul into R&B, especially with his song “Coming Home.” The doo-wop track starts off with a classic hum until Bridges starts with some tender lyrics. “The world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, girl / You're the only one that I want,” he sings. The crooner even recorded the song live to tape with an analog recorder to ensure that it had an authentic 1960s feel. And he definitely succeeded in giving us those good nostalgic feels.
It’s hard not to feel inspired after hearing Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” With a song collaboration with Stevie Wonder under her belt, Day is not short of accomplishments. In “Rise Up,” Day’s voice soars above the rest, even as she’s joined by soft backup vocals, it’s her voice that carries the song. Piano chords play out in the background as well until the build-up that could fill any heart with hope. So as we hold our head up high and look onwards, we're definitely keeping “Rise Up” on repeat.
Few singers could do justice to Aaliyah's "At Your Best," but Frank Ocean proved to be one of the exceptions. The R&B crooner did a phenomenal job with his cover of the 1994 song. Although he didn’t drop his long-awaited and anticipated sophomore album (*side-eye*), it’s hard to stay mad when Ocean is dropping falsettos your way in tribute to the late R&B princess.
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