On February 22, 2000, Aaliyah released what would become history-making song: “Try Again.”

Written by Timbaland and Static Major, the track served as the lead single from the Romeo Must Die soundtrack. The song opens with Timbo rapping a line from Eric B. & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul,” and before you know it, we’re hit with one of the hardest beats ever.

Interestingly, “Try Again” was initially written as an inspirational song, but the music gods heard the beat and sent a message through Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who suggested a modification of the lyrics.

The “Try Again” video was something of a reintroduction to Aaliyah. She had shed much of the tomboy image for which she had been known, and was decidedly sexier and more confident.

“Try Again” has the distinction of being the first song in history to top the Billboard Hot 100 off the sole strength of radio airplay. In summary, “Try Again” dominated the airwaves.

Exactly 20 years ago today, the world was introduced to a white girl with pink hair and a black voice. Alecia Moore, better known as Pink, released her debut single, “There You Go.”

Written by Kandi Burruss, Kevin Briggs and Pink, “There You Go” definitely follows the tradition of sassy kiss-off anthems that Kandi was known for at the time. And production-wise, it is definitely very similar to “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “No Scrubs” — somehow, my pre-teen self didn’t catch these similarities, but 20 years later, they are glaring.

At the time, we all thought we had years of dope R&B to come from Pink, but little did we know, she would switch up on us by the time her second LP dropped the following year.

Pink made a clean break from R&B and never looked back. The music has been good for the most part, but we’ll always wonder what could have been. Also, we will always be left with the feeling that Pink used black culture — in sound, look and feel — as a prop to get noticed quickly. It’s one thing to merely sing R&B, but Alecia hit us with the blaccent and everything. She was Miley before Miley was Miley, and unfortunately, there will be many more like her.

Watch the “There You Go” video below.

The Weekend dropped “After Hours,” the third lead single and title track of his upcoming album, which drops on March 20.

Sonically speaking, “After Hours” is  standard Weeknd. Unfortunately, standard Weeknd isn’t always good.

Sub-par vocals are tolerable if they’re supported by a strong melody or solid production, neither of which we get on “After Hours.” And to make matters worse, the song is six minutes long.

The good news (for the Weeknd) is that he is now a commercial powerhouse who no longer needs to release quality music. Expect this song to debut in the top 5 next week.

Singing about heartbreak usually takes a bit of life experience to do so convincingly, but when you’re a 16-year-old phenom, you can sing with the conviction of one who is truly broken-hearted.

In the summer of ‘95, Brandy released “Brokenhearted” as the fourth and final single from her self-titled debut album. Written by Keith Crouch and Kipper Jones, the song samples Loleatta Holloway “Cry to Me,” another outstanding ballad.

Like much of Brandy, “Brokenhearted” possesses the substance of a song that grownups could listen to without shame, all while maintaining qualities that appeal to the core fan base of a teenage Brandy. “I’m young, but I’m wise enough to know” is almost a rallying cry, opening the song with a clear statement about who this is by and who this is for.

The original version of “Brokenhearted” never got the video treatment, but one was made for a remix featuring Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris. For some odd reason, I used to think the remix was better, and though it is a solid track, there’s something haunting about the original that will have you feeling like you’re fresh out of a relationship.

“Brokenhearted” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the live performance below, Brandy performs the original but includes the bridge from the remix, thereby giving us the best of both worlds. Check it out below.

Justin Bieber just released “Intentions” (featuring Quavo), the second single from his upcoming album, Changes. Its documentary-style video focuses on people doing important work in their community despite significant trials and tribulations. The camera follows the Biebs and Quavo as they talk to these humanitarians and ultimately make generous donations to help them fulfill their intentions. It’s all very “God’s Plan.”

Justin Bieber does some of the best singing he has ever done on “Intentions,” and quite frankly, if he released this song as its first single (as opposed to “Yummy”), he wouldn’t have needed to beg people to stream it — only for it to be blocked from No. 1 by Roddy Ricch and slip out of the top 10 after two weeks. Hate to see it.

Check “Intentions” out below.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m happy to announce that Onika Maraj is back in her bag.

Being described as a “promotional single” (i.e., a song that the record label is expecting to underperform), “Yikes” is Nicki’s strongest showing in years — arguably better than every song on Queen. In the less than 24 hours since its release, the song has topped the iTunes chart in 17 countries and is still No. 1 in the US as of the time of this posting.

With the exception of a questionable Rosa Parks reference (which Nicki makes no apologies for), there isn’t much to criticize about “Yikes.” Check it about below.

If you’re familiar with this blog and how songs are reviewed around here, you will know that melody is paramount. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “Mr. Melody” by Natalie Cole is an all-time favorite.

For starters, there is a line in the song that says, “Without you, I would have no song,” which is a simple fact about music —- the only thing that makes it music (as opposed to poetry or prose) is a melody. Melody *is* music.

That being said, Natalie Cole is definitely singing about sex and whatnot, but the point stands.

“Mr. Melody” lives up to its title with a beautiful melody that draws you in from the very beginning. And toward the end of the song, Natalie Cole does some of the best scatting you will ever hear.

Released as the second single from her sophomore album, Natalie, “Mr. Melody” isn’t one of Natalie Cole’s biggest hits, but it is definitely among her best work. Check it out below.

A few hours ago, Drake “leaked” a new song titled “Desires,” which features Future and has a beat that almost sounds like a slowed down version of the “Life Is Good” beat.

How you going vegan but still beefing with me?


Drake doesn’t disappoint with caption-worthy lines and Futures does some of the best rapping he has ever done. The beat changes towards the end of the song, and suddenly, it feels like we’re listening to something from Nothing Was the Same.

Check “Desires” out below.

Brian McKnight is often thought of as a balladeer, and this is entirely because his biggest hits are heart-wrenching ballads. I mean…”Back at One,” anyone?

However, there was a time when Uncle Brian was serving jams. One of such jams was the “Hold Me” remix, which featured Tone (from Poke & Tone) and a 20-year-old Kobe Bryant. In the age of social media, this song is only ever brought up to make fun of Kobe’s verse, and while it wasn’t stellar, you have to respect the ambition of a basketball star taking an earnest shot at a music career. And for what it’s worth, parts of that verse sound like something out of an LL Cool J song, and I’m not just saying that to be generous as we mourn Kobe.

Looking back, it is fair to say that Kobe’s verse served as a bit of a distraction, because upon listening to “Hold Me” again from start to finish, you are reminded that it is actually a solid track. Also, upon re-watching the video, you are reminded of how hilarious it was to see Brian McKnight attempt to dance — at which point you almost become thankful that we focused on the Kobe’s verse all these years.

Watch the “Hold Me” (Remix) video below, and look out for cameos by Bill Bellamy, Claudia Jordan and Tyson Beckford, among others.