“Music is a world within itself; it is a language we all understand.” – Stevie Wonder
Music is a form of communication that expresses emotions and connects people from a wide variety of cultures. Irrespective of the genre, starting from the smooth sounds of the jazz guitarist, Wes Montgomery to the dynamic rap songs of Eminem, music offers a voice for everyone.
To obtain a better understanding of how music speaks to the soul, let’s look at some of the different situations in which music can provide some comfort to an aching heart or mind. Ballads are probably the most popular category, especially when it comes expressing our sentiments of love or dealing with the painful moments of heartbreaks. Reggae has always been one of my favorite genres of music. It is characterized by a unique drum beat backed by the sound of the piano and guitar that makes you want to dance. Reggae covers a variety of themes ranging from love to social awareness. However, regardless of the theme, it will have you swaying to the beat of the song. Country music is another form of music that will forever remain on my playlist. One of its most appealing features for me is the lyrics of country songs. The most common misconception of this category is that the songs are melancholic. You will find some sorrowful songs, but you will also find songs that will make you laugh and inspire you to live your life to the fullest. Rap has come a long way since the 1970s when artists such as The Sugarhill Gang and The Fatback Band were in vogue. Today’s hip-hop songs express the way our youth currently views the world. For some people, rap lyrics are too coarse in content. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings for the lyrics of rap music, you cannot deny the fact that certain rap music does promote social awareness about community concerns that are mostly ignored by the society. Classical and Jazz can capture the imagination and create the perfect setting for romance. These two styles of music can be composed with or without vocals. One of fascinating characteristics of classical and jazz music is that the power of the instruments alone can mesmerize the listener. Here you will find one of the few styles of music that can bring you to tears without a single vocalist performing.
In this next section, I want to focus on listing my top 13 R&B songs from male singers about breaking up with someone. I choose these songs to show the impact of the lyrics on the listener based on the musical arrangement of the songs.
13) Whistle – Whatever Happened 2 us
Whistle was a 1980s contemporary R&B group that comprised of Jazzy Jazz, Kool Doobie, and DJ Silver Spinner. This group performed hip hop and R&B songs. The song “Whatever Happened 2 us” was released in 1990 under their album entitled “Always and Forever”.
12) Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
This song was released in 1989 from their album entitled “Girl you know it’s true.” Milli Vanilli was on their way to making a very long and successful career for themselves until they were discovered to be lip syncing during a live concert. I find it strange that this incident ruined the group’s future when many of today’s most popular artist lip sync in many of their and it still doesn’t affect their fan following in any way.
11) Jagged Edge –Girl It’s Over
Jagged Little Thrill is the third studio album by the R&B group, Jagged Edge, which contained the song “Girl It’s Over.” The album was released on June 26, 2001. This song has created one of the most popular sayings for people who are fed up with their relationship. The lyrics from the song people have adopted are “I really gotta change my life, cause I’m tired of living like this, seem like all we do is fight, real love just aint like this.” If you think about it, these words makes a person ask themselves how much are you willing to put up with for the sake of a relationship.
10) Commodores – Easy
“Easy” is a song by the Commodores from their album entitled, Commodores, which was released in March 1977. The Commodores are an R&B group who are loved by people from all over the world. Here we have another song that expresses the trials and tribulations of a relationship and the effort put forth to make the relationship work.
9) After 7 – ‘Til you do me right
“‘Til You Do Me Right” is a song by After 7 from the group’s third album called Reflections that was released in 1995. This song was produced by Babyface and co-written by Kevon and Melvin; it earned the group a hit in the top 40-charts of three countries – including reaching #5 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.
8) Usher – Burn
“Burn” is a song by the R&B singer, Usher, which he wrote with American songwriters Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox. The song was released in Usher’s fourth studio album, Confessions (2004).
7) New Edition – Leave Me
The song “Leave Me” was released in November 2004 in the album titled One Love. For over 25 years, New Edition has graced the stage and provided us with some of the world’s greatest music. Vocally, these guys have created hit songs as a group as well as individual albums. After having successfully fought to get out of their long term contract with MCA Records, the group signed with Bad Boy Records. When I heard this news, I knew that this deal was not the best option for this multi-talented group.
6) Full Force – All in my mind
Full Force released their third album titled Guess Who’s Coming To The Crib in 1987. This album provided one of the band’s biggest hit as a recording act with “All in My Mind.” In the event, anyone is not aware of this legendary band or unable to identify some of their work, let me refresh your memory. This group produced and wrote music for UTFO, Doctor Ice, Samantha Fox, Patti LaBelle, Jasmine Guy, The Force MDs, the R&B all-female group Ex Girlfriend, Britney Spears, James Brown, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, La Toya Jackson, and Selena. Full Force produced UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne” (1985), a record that led to several answer records, the most notably one being by Roxanne Shanté. The group produced Rihanna’s 2005 hit “That La, La, La,” which appears on her debut album, Music Of The Sun. I have always felt that Full Force is one of the most underrated musical groups of our time. I would advise any true music lover to check out the group’s music catalog.
5) Boyz 2 men – Doin’ just fine
“Doin’ Just Fine” is a song performed by the R&B group, Boyz II Men, from their third album called Evolution, which was released in 1998. This group was discovered by Michael Bivins of New Edition. Their first concert that I attended in San Diego, California consisted of Boyz 2 Men and LL Cool J. If you have never seen this group in person, then you are truly missing out on music at its best. Many of the songs from Boyz 2 Men are filled with lyrics that are designed to tap into your hearts’ innermost feelings. Songs such as It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, On Bended Knees, I ‘ll Make Love to You, and A Song For Mama are examples of this group’s powerful musical vocal skills that brings their music to life.
4) Teddy Pendergrass – Love TKO
“Love T.K.O.” is a song written by Cecil Womack & Gip Noble, Jr. for a soul singer named David Oliver, released in 1980. Cecil & Linda Womack recorded the song themselves as Womack & Womack, but it appeared simply as “T.K.O.” on their debut album Love Wars in 1983. Most of us know this song from the legendary R&B and soul artist, Teddy Pendergrass, who recorded the song that same year in his 1980 album, TP. As I listened to these three different singers perform the song Love TKO, there was one thing that stood out – power and delivery. Teddy Pendergrass gave life to the lyrics of this song with his strong and soulful vocals.
3) Johnny Gill – 2nd Place
The song “2nd Place” is a single from the album titled, Still Winning. This was the sixth studio album by the R&B singer, Johnny Gill, released in October 11, 2011. The album received mixed reviews from some of the music critics. Johnny Gill has one of the most powerful and soulful voices in the music business today. One of his greatest hits was the song “My My My”, which still drives the audiences crazy today. He has had a great individual and group career in the music business, as a member of LSG (Levert, Sweat, Gill) and as you all know, with New Edition.
2) Ralph Tresvant – Do what I gotta do
“Do What I Gotta Do” is a song performed by the R&B singer, Ralph Tresvant, from his eponymous debut album, Ralph Tresvant. The album was released in 1990 by MCA Records and has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Ralph Tresvant is the lead singer of the group, New Edition, along with Johnny Gill. Ralph Tresvant has created some of the most amazing ballads such as Never Noticed, Love Hurts, and I Love You (Just For You).
1) Prince – I love U, but I don’t trust U anymore
This song was released by Prince in his album Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic in 2001. There were two other songs by Prince that I contemplated as the number one R&B break-up song. The songs were “Gotta Broken Heart Again” and “Goodbye”; each of these songs are remarkable with the most amazing arrangements. Prince has always been more than a singer or entertainer; he was simply a master artist of music. For those who have followed Prince throughout his music career, there is a dramatic change in the style and showmanship of his music. As I listen to his music, I can recognize certain characteristics of his vocal range, vocal weight, tessitura, vocal timbre, and vocal transition points such as the breaks and lifts within his voice. If you never witnessed this artist in concert, then you have missed out on the opportunity to hear the sound of real music in its original form.
I think we can all learn from music as it provides comfort in a wide variety of situations. Today, let us recognize that love does not spare hurt based on gender. Men and women all over the world are victims to heartache and loneliness. One of the things I noticed from these songs, which I did not pick up on until I went back and played them again, was honesty. Each of these songs was based on someone being honest about their feelings. It’s never easy to tell someone you don’t love them or don’t want to be with them anymore, but it’s better than leading a person on for years just to tell them you were going through the motions of love.
If we start off by being completely honest in the very beginning about what we want and expect in a relationship, then maybe, we can avoid some the pain from love. Love is a beautiful feeling that everyone should have the pleasure of enjoying with someone who loves them just as much. So, let’s make an effort not to destroy a person’s hope for love.
What songs would you add to this list? Tell us your thoughts!