40 Greatest R&B Songs Of The ’90s (COMPLETE LIST)

Check out the complete list of the greatest R&B songs of the '90s.

While many musical historians look at the ’90s as the decade in which “alternative” and hip-hop music exploded from the underground into the mainstream, we here at VH1 haven’t forgotten that the decade was flush with a number of stone classic R&B tracks. In the latest installment of VH1’s long-running series The Greatest, The 40 Greatest R&B Songs Of The ’90s, we’re going deep into some of your favorite songs from that era.

In addition to monster crossover smashes from well-established forces like Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You”) and Janet Jackson (“That’s The Way Love Goes”), the ’90s were also a time when future powerhouse R&B legends like Mary J. Blige (“Real Love”, “Not Gon’ Cry”) and R. Kelly (“I Believe I Can Fly,” “Bump N’ Grind”) first established a rapport with audiences worldwide. Of course, there were also a few groups —we’re looking at you, Bell Biv Devoeand Color Me Badd; who released instant classics but were never quite able to replicate that initial success.

Lucky for you, the complete list of VH1’s 40 Greatest R&B Songs Of The ’90s has been assembled for you to check out here. We’ve also put together a Spotify playlist of the complete list* for you to enjoy, and don’t miss your opportunity to start debating our selections in the comments below.

  1. “Humpin’ Around”Bobby Brown Album: Bobby Year: 1992 Known for misbehaving, Bobby’s ode to being a man-whore was a #1 hit R&B single in the early half of the decade. And who could forget the ladies in cages? Rawr.

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  2. “Hold On”En Vogue Album: Born To Sing Year: 1990 Everyone loves a good cover, and for these funky divas, their introduction to the world was singing Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” intro before nailing a song that would allow their debut album to get some serious traction.

  3. “Don’t Walk Away”Jade Album: Jade To The Max Year: 1993 Not only was this song a huge dance hit in ’93, but it got the ladies – in all their crop-top glory – on the Arsenio Hall show. Heck, I might make the intro my voicemail just to pay tribute.

  4. “I Love Your Smile”Shanice Album: Inner Child Year: 1991 With her girl-next-door charm, Shanice got one with this crossover hit that features a coy giggle from Janet Jackson at the end.

  5. “Motownphilly”Boyz II Men Album: Cooleyhighharmony Year: 1991 This new jack swing smash was Boyz II Men’s hometown-repping debut single and helped pave the way for their vice-grip domination of radio for the first half of the decade.

  6. “Twisted”Keith Sweat Album: Keith Sweat Year: 1996 With a solid assist from R&B trio Kut Klose on the hook, this longing love song delivered an entertaining who-dunnit video and served as Sweat’s biggest pop hit.

  7. “I Miss You”Aaron Hall Album: The Truth Year: 1993 Before you feel too bad for Aaron, keep in mind that this melancholy tune let him take home the Soul Train award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video in ’95.

  8. “Where My Girls At?”702 Album: 702 Year: 1992 We’ll tell you where the girls were at: on the Billboard charts! Produced by Missy Elliot and Key Beats, this lady anthem from the Nevada-hailing trio went gold and still gets those with XX-chromosomes revved up.

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  9. “Rub You The Right Way”Johnny Gill Album: Johnny Gill Year: 1990 After the New Edition broke up, Johnny Gill blazed his own path as a solo artist and snagged a #1 spot on the Billboard R&B chart with what remains his biggest hit to date!

  10. “The Crossroads”Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Album: E. 1999 Eternal Year: 1996 Dedicated to their mentor, gone-too-soon rapper Eazy E, this emotional track is the group’s biggest selling single. Accompanied by a spooky video where a reaper-like character comes to take the souls of those who pass, this song has potential to be memorable for decades.

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  11. “Pony”Ginuwine Album: Ginuwine… The Bachelor Year: 1996 Raunchy is what Ginuwine does best, and getting right to the point in this Timbaland-produced R&B classic, we get a good sense of what he’s after. Not only did it help catapult Timbo’s career, but the song was sampled by Rihanna and used in the film Magic Mike.

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  12. “Feels Good”Tony! Toni! Toné! Album: The Revival Year: 1990 The title speaks for itself in new jack swing-era “Feels Good,” and the song spent two weeks at #1 on the R&B shart, hit the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10 and(!) made a splash on the dance charts.

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  13. “Love Like This”Faith Evans Album: Keep The Faith Year: 1998 With Puffy in the production credits, this cool-but-heartfelt classic hit the radio during Bad Boy’s heydey in the latter part of the decade. The upbeat video featured the talented Notorious B.I.G. baby momma rollerskating and carefree.

  14. “Freak Me”Silk Album: Lose Control Year: 1993 Intimacy knows no bound in Silk’s “Freak Me.” A song that was co-written and produced by Keith Sweat, the Georgia quintet let their desire be known by asking to lick their lovers “up and down, until you say stop.”

  15. “All My Life”K-Ci & JoJo Album: Love Always Year: 1998 This song is everything, is it not? During the late ’90s, you’d hear it all over the radio, at weddings, proms, and on personal “I Love You”-themed mixtapes.

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  16. “All Around The World”Lisa Stansfield Album: Affection Year: 1989 Vowing to find a soul mate who’s broken her heart and fled, lady Lisa coos on this track that was later interpolated by Puff Daddy Diddy on No Way Out smash, “Been Around The World.”

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  17. “I’m Every Woman”Whitney Houston Album: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album Year: 1992 Originally a song by the queen Chaka Khan, this track was re-recorded by Whitney Houston fourteen years later. Little known fact: Whit sang background vocals on the original!

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  18. “Come And Talk To Me”Jodeci Album: Forever My Lady Year: 1992 Written, produced and arranged by Al B. Sure, “Come And Talk To Me” was the Uptown group’s third #1 hit.

  19. “No Scrubs”TLC Album: FanMail Year: 1999 Male members of the human race were pissed when they heard this little ditty, and could you blame them? “No Scrubs” was the TLC’s lead single off their third album and triggered a clap-back answer song from “Sporty Thievz.”

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  20. “Do Me Right”Guy Album: The Future Year: 1990 Heavy D. threw this Harlem-repping trio an alley-oop when he spit a verse on their sassy record and appeared in the Mondrian-inspired video.

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  21. “Fantasy” Mariah Carey, “Fantasy” Album: Daydream Year: 1995 Very few things are better than some vintage Mariah, amiright? In this O.D.B-featured classic video, Mimi gets to play around in an amusement park while singing along to a Tom Tom Club sample.

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  22. “You Make Me Wanna”Usher Album: My Way Year: 1997 Usher and JD make hits, and in this scandalous lead single from Mr. Raymond’s debut album, they shot their first flare in the air to warn people that a new R&B sheriff was in town.

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  23. “I’m So Into You”SWV Album: It’s About Time Year: 1992 This R&B trio snagged their first top-ten hit with “I’m So Into You,” and in the video, brought it with some New Jack Swing-era funk!

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  24. “No Diggity”Blackstreet Album: Another Level Year: 1996 Teddy Riley produced this Dr. Dre-featured hit that landed the group Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Grammy in ’96.

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  25. “Not Gon’ Cry”Mary J. Blige Album: Share My World Year: 1996 Mary’s platinum single was written and produced by Babyface, and if lighting sh*t on fire in the video isn’t a memorable visual for you, you might recall the song made a huge splash on the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack.

  26. “Back At One”Brian McKnight Album: Back At One Year: 1999 A triple threat, “Back At One” was written, produced and performed by Mr. McKnight – all before his most recent dabbling into songs about ladies’ sexual functionality.

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  27. “Bump N’ Grind”R. Kelly Album: 12 Play Year: 1994 Coming out of the gate on his first solo album, the R. flexed his creative muscle and released this naughty tune alongside a crotch-thrusting live performance video.

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  28. “The Boy Is Mine”Brandy & Monica Album: The Boy Is Mine Year: 1998 Putting their own stamp on Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine,” these lovely two vocalists came together for a duet that was, believe it or not, inspired by an episode of Jerry Springer.

  29. “I Wanna Sex You Up”Color Me Badd Album: C.M.B. Year: 1991 To the heart, tick-tock, you don’t stop! Not only did this racy record spend four weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but it also made an appearance on the soundtrack to popular ’90s movie, New Jack City.

  30. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” – En Vogue Album: Funky Divas Year: 1992 Working it on stage in the video for their second album’s lead single, “My Lovin’,” the classy ladies of En Vogue made male viewers take notes!

  31. “End Of The Road”Boyz II Men Album: Cooleyhighharmony (re-release) Year: 1993 With Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “L.A.” Reid producing, this Boyz II Men classic is concerned the group’s most successful single. Guess people liked the blue tones in the video, huh?

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  32. “Are You That Somebody?”Aaliyah Album: Dr. Doolittle Year: 1998 Lending her talents to the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack, baby girl released this Timbo-produced track that was also nominated for a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy. Is it my go, or is it your go?

  33. “Real Love”Mary J. Blige Album: What’s The 411? Year: 1992 Queen Mary knows all about ladies’ anthems, and on this iconic record – later sampled by Frank Ocean – she describes her arduous journey of looking for love.

  34. “This Is How We Do It”Montell Jordan Album: This Is How We Do It Year: 1995 When this song comes on in a bar or club, even now, people lose their minds. Extra bonus points for supporting the use of a designated driver, Montell!

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  35. “Waterfalls”TLC Album: CrazySexyCool Year: 1995 Nominated for two trophies at at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards, this mid-’90s smash is TLC’s best-known single. With the help of an intense video, the ladies took home four MTV VMAs, including Video of the Year.

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  36. “I Believe I Can Fly”R. Kelly Album: Space Jam Year: 1996 Not only did Rebert Kelly sing the crap out of this beautiful song, he penned and produced it too. Splicing in footage from the film Space Jam, this record landed on both that soundtrack and on R. Kelly’s album, R..

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  37. “That’s The Way Love Goes”Janet Jackson Album: janet Year: 1993 Selling over 3-million copies worldwide, this song earned Ms. Jackson two Grammy nominations in ’94- one of which, Best R&B Song, she won. Not yet a household name, dancer Jennifer Lopez was cast in the video to add to the already-sexy vibe.

  38. “I Will Always Love You”Whitney Houston Album: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album Year: 1992 Beautiful and talented, Whitney “the voice” Houston stunned movie-goers when she played Rachel Marron alongside Kevin Costner in 1992 film, The Bodyguard. Written by Dolly Parton, this timeless song stands as one of Whitney’s finest, and shot to #1 on the iTunes charts hours after she passed.

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  39. “One Sweet Day”Mariah Carey ft. Boyz II Men Album: Daydream Year: 1995 Spending 16 weeks at #1 on Billboards Hot 100, this heartfelt R&B duet is the longest running number one song in US chart history. Showered with critical praise, the twice platinum track negelcted to cash in on any of the 6 Grammy nominations it was awarded.

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  40. “Poison”Bell Biv Devoe Album: Poison Year: 1990 If there’s one thing that this platinum, Dr. Freeze-produced record taught us, it’s this: Never trust a big butt and smile!

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Proceed with caution if you don’t want a new member of the family 9 months from now!

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