2016 was another year of great R&B songs.
Veterans like Rihanna, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, and Jeremih continued their hit-making offerings while newcomers like Ro James, Tessanne Chin, and Anderson .Paak gave us beautifully crafted bodies of work covering a variety of topics.
The 2016 Queen of R&B title goes to Rihanna, who came out the gate swinging with singles like ‘Work,’ boosted by Drake, ‘Needed Me’ and ‘Sex With Me,’ all from her ‘ANTI’ album. Following close behind are Adele with ‘Hello,’ and Beyoncé with songs like ‘Formation,’ ‘Sorry,’ and ‘Hold Up.’
In a time where many people try to build up one female star over the other, Rihanna makes it clear that she supports other female artists, especially her label-affiliate Beyoncé.
“I wish y’all would drop this topic and see things from the bigger picture! We don’t need to be putting black women against each other! We deserve to be celebrated, and the Grammy Academy agrees!” stated Rihanna this week via Instagram. All three ladies are leaders in nominations for 2017 Grammy Awards.
Chris Brown takes the runner-up position and wins the crown as King of R&B with his sensual single, “Back to Sleep.” Jeremih’s “Oiu” and Bryson Tillers “Exchange” follow closely.
Below we rounded up the Top 50 Best R&B Songs of 2016 – Click on any image to go through our list. Reminisce by listening to the songs, and feel free to leave us your comments or feedback. Let’s hope for another great year in 2017.
Top 50 Best R&B Songs of 2016 list:
[tps_title]50. Terry Jones – Imagery of Making Love[/tps_title]
New York City-based singer/songwriter Terry Jones issues a recipe for love via new single “Imagery of Making Love.” Produced by William Brown of So Fo Real Productions and penned by Terry, the ballad serves as “an ode to really good Soul/R&B music when lyrics, instrumentation, and talent were all important and came together to make people feel good and want to love.” Terry’s warm and passionate delivery will make you want to cuddle up with your Bae for a long night of tender lovemaking.
[tps_title]49. Ruben Studdard – Can’t Nobody Love You[/tps_title]
This year, Grammy-nominated “American Idol” winner and America’s “Velvet Teddy Bear” Ruben Studdard dropped his new single “Can’t Nobody Love You.” Ruben is known to channel the vibes of the late smooth crooner Luther Vandross, but for this song, he’s taken on the aura of another soul crooner, Al Green. Everything from the driving beat, to the horn flares, to simulating Green’s vocal twang, Ruben channels the classic soul of the 70s. The single is from Studdard’s album, ‘When Love Calls Me.’
[tps_title]48. Dave Hollister – Definition of a Woman[/tps_title]
Dave Hollister dropped his ninth solo studio project, ‘The Manuscript,’ this year, which is headed by the single, “Definition of a Woman,” a grown-and-sexy jam on which Hollister praises the qualities of a good woman. “She can bring you everything you need, help you succeed, take you from a boy and turn you into a man / That’s the definition of a woman,” he sings on the first verse. About the song, Hollister explains, “Love feels so good. Those of us men who have been fortunate enough to experience true love wrapped in romance can attest to the fact that there’s nothing else like it. It’s a very specific feeling to have the love of a woman.” Fellow Chicagoan and actress LisaRaye appeared in the visual.
[tps_title]47. Kevin Ross – Long Song Away[/tps_title]
From his EP ‘Long Song Away,’ Motown crooner Kevin Ross dropped the title track which showcases his smooth, bright tenor over a soulful track. In the self-written ballad, Kevin encourages the object of his affection to be patient when looking for love, telling her, ” “I know we live in the now, but we can set our own pace, take my hand and we can slow dance to the radio,” he sings before the chorus chimes in.
[tps_title]46. Jacob Lattimore – Remember Me[/tps_title]
2016 was Jacob Latimore’s time to emerge as an indie artist and take control of his career. From his new album, Connection (which arrived on Dec. 9th), Latimore dropped the single “Remember Me.” The Notebook-inspired concept video accompanies the 80s-leaning song with an intriguing storyline and crisp choreography, showing Latimore’s growth as an artist.
[tps_title]45. Trevor Jackson – Here I Come[/tps_title]
‘Here I Come,’ is one of the standout tracks from Trevor Jackson’s mixtape, ‘In My Feelings.’ The accompanying music video takes us back to a time of actual good story lines. This one will have you sitting on the edge of your seat!
[tps_title]44. Sabrina Claudio – Confidently Lost[/tps_title]
Twenty-year-old L.A. based singer-songwriter Sabrina Claudio released the sensual, passionate, and heartstrings-pulling single, ‘”Confidently Lost,” the title track from her EP of the same name. In the Daniel Behrens-directed music video, the soulful singer/songwriter is seen in her cozy home moving throughout oh so tenderly while infusing a warm and erotic vibe. Sabrina’s smooth and stimulating movements go hand-in-hand with her undeniable melodies and soothing vocal delivery.
[tps_title]43. V. Bozeman – Go[/tps_title]
V. Bozeman solidified her star power this year in her video for “Go” where she absolutely kills it! The clip is like an R&B “Flashdance” for 2016. After arguing with her boyfriend while at a photo shoot, V takes out her frustrations through dance, twerkin’ it and workin’ it. “If you wanna go, if you wanna leave, just leave me,” she dismissively sings. She then meets up outside with her girls where they bash her now ex-boyfriend. Watch out for more from V. Bozeman in 2017!
[tps_title]42. Mario – I Need More[/tps_title]
This year, Mario made his comeback with his rap-sung single, “I Need More,” along with the cinematic visual. The clip begins when the singer is taken out the back of a van, hands tied behind his back by men with gas masks on. They shove him into a dark and dreary building where he explores the rooms filled with wayward-looking women. He follows one to a larger room where a dance sequence takes place. By video’s end, Mario and the rest of those pinned up in the building revolt against the gas-masked men who put them there.
[tps_title]41. Lela James – Don’t Want you back[/tps_title]
Soulstress Leela James came back onto the scene this year with a new groove called “Don’t Want You Back,” a song you can send to your clingy ex. The lyrics tell the (relatable) tale about refusing to ever go back to an ended relationship, only forward. “Two o’clock in the morning, you on my phone / Tryna talk to me and saying that you want me back / You need me back, and you say you never left me / There you go, talking that shit, same old sh*t / Don’t wanna hear that sh*t, no,” she sings on the first verse.
[tps_title]40. Mary J. Blige – Thick Of It[/tps_title]
Unfortunately, in 2016, May J. Blige filed for divorce from her husband of 12 years, Kendu Isaacs. But it looks like the pain from the split is leading her to make the female-empowerment music styles of the 90s she’s known for. On her single, “Thick of It” (co-written by Jazmine Sullivan), the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul delivers raw, emotional, personal and thought-provoking lyrics about the demise of her marriage. “I was there when no one wanted to stay with you, baby,” the Nine-time GRAMMY® Award-winner sings. “You know I deserve all of this / Yes, I do / So tell me, who’s gonna love you like I do?”
[tps_title]39. Keke Palmer – I Don’t Belong To You[/tps_title]
This year, actress/singer KeKe Palmer really made her presence known on the music side! She dropped the single and video for “I Don’t Belong To You,” an offering from her upcoming Island Records debut LP. The video had viewers seeing the former child star in a new light, showing off all her sex appeal. Complete with a shower scene and surprise ending, the black and white clip shows KeKe all grown up and taking charge! Watch out for cameos from “Power” actor Rotimi and Diddy’s girlfriend Cassie.
[tps_title]38. Joe – So I Can Have You Back[/tps_title]
2016 saw the release of singer/songwriter Joe’s final album #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS and it’s first single “So I Can Have You Have Back,” a ballad full of emotion. Written and produced by Joe, the song sees the singer wishing his ex-love breaks up with her new guy so he can have her back. “I hope he makes the biggest mistake / Beyond forgivable and makes our heart break / I hope you tell him sorry’s just not enough, and it goes from good to bad,” he sings on the chorus.
[tps_title]37. Gourdan Banks – Keep you in mind[/tps_title]
This year was a break out year for Philly singer-songwriter Guordan Banks, who petitioned your ears with his sensual and soulful single, “Keep You In Mind.” On the captivating offering with heavy throwback-vibes, the Philadelphia R&B crooner will give you goosebumps and nostalgia as he triumphantly delivers passionate tales and melodies of love. “Don’t run, I got so much for you / I know you feel the love that’s in the air,” Guordan croons.
[tps_title]36. JoJo – Mad Love.[/tps_title]
Songstress JoJo returned this year with her third album, ‘Mad Love.’ The project’s title track featured a doo-wop flare that swings along to the tune of declaring her dependence from an unhealthy relationship. “Twisted like wire in your arms / A dangerous place for my heart / But you know I love getting off on the thrill,” she sings.
[tps_title]35. La’Porsha Renee – Good Woman[/tps_title]
American Idol Season 15 runner-up La’Porsha Renae’s official lead single “Good Woman,” is a gritty, soulful and heart-pouring mid-tempo cut that pulls from La‘Porsha’s personal definition of what it means to be the quintessential good woman. The Harmony “H-Money” Samuels and Edgar “JV” Etienne-produced track is a good-ol’ soul record. The song is therapeutic for La’Porsha, and she wanted to give it to her fans as a testament of closure for her past abusive marriage. “‘Good Woman’ works as a closure and an anthem for other women,’ she told us.
[tps_title]34. BJ The Chicago Kid – Turnin’ Me Up[/tps_title]
This year, BJ The Chicago Kid dropped his full-length album, ‘In My Mind,’ and the single ‘Turnin Me Up.’ The video pays homage to vintage-style filming and to one of BJ’s biggest inspirations, the late legend Marvin Gaye.
[tps_title]33. Keke Wyatt – Love Me[/tps_title]
KeKe Wyatt dropped a new album this year titled ‘Rated Love,’ led by the emotion-bending single called ‘Love Me.’ On the mid-tempo ballad, penned by Wyatt, Brandon Hesson and Dominic “Dom” Gordon (also produced by Gordon), she tells her beau to love her despite her flaws. Her voice never disappoints!
[tps_title]32. Kehlani – Crzy[/tps_title]
2016 was spent by Kehlani dropping singles and prepping the release of her SweetSexySavage album (due out on Jan 27th). One of the releases from the album is “Crzy,” a hard-hitting, unapologetic statement that embraces the challenges and double standards that come with being a woman; she takes being called “crazy” a compliment. “Everything I do I do it with a passion/ If I gotta be a bitch, I’mma be a bad one,” she opens in the first verse. “And baby if they askin’/ Tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em I go cray-ay-ay-ay-azy.”
[tps_title]31. Miguel – Come Through And Chill[/tps_title]
Miguel remained relatively low-key this year, but he did drop “Come Through and Chill,” a chill track in itself thanks to production by Salaam Remi. “Just say you will, come through and chill,” Miguel resounds on the chorus after suggesting his ex-boo get comfy before heading over to his place.
[tps_title]30. Tank – Better For you[/tps_title]
From his studio seventh album, ‘SLP2,’ which arrived in Jan 2016, Tank released the powerful single called “Better For You.” It’s one of Tank’s piano ballads that makes all the ladies swoon, and the video is emotionally heart-wrenching as Tank faces his infidelities.
[tps_title]29. The Weeknd – Starboy[/tps_title]
The Weeknd debuted a new haircut this year along with his album, ‘Starboy.’ The music video for the title track, featuring Daft Punk, shows a new and rugged side of the Canadian singer/songwriter. Not only does he kill his old self, in the clip, he also destroys every piece of property or award that his old self-acquired, including his house and platinum plaques.
[tps_title]28. K. Michelle – Not A Little Bit[/tps_title]
K. Michelle released her third album, More Issues Than Vogue, in 2016, and the album featured the ballad “Not A Little Bit,” an ode to realizing there’s life after a tough breakup. On the groove, Michelle reflects on the negative aspects of her past relationship, and realizes being single is A-ok: “It’s gonna take a miracle this time, to make me change my mind / I’m alone and doing fine, so I leave it all behind,” she sings. The video features K. Michelle walking, bathing, and even drinking Jack Daniels in the rain as she reflects on her bad relationship. But soon, she steps out of the rain into a sunnier, new phase in life, allowing the rain to follow her ex instead.
[tps_title]27. Kehlani – Distraction[/tps_title]
Kehlani aims to be her man’s “Distraction.” In the song’s music video, directed by YASHXANA, the Bay Area songstress unleashes her sexy side as she seduces the camera and her leading man, who is on the receiving end of some body surfing. Kehlani’s co-star also received more feels in a blue room as he tightly gripped her buttocks and he welcomed her in panties and bra in a red room between two other females. “Distraction,” produced by Pop & Oak has a nostalgic 90s vibe.
[tps_title]26. Monica – Hustler’s Ambition Ft. Akon[/tps_title]
Monica released her ‘Code Red’ album late 2015, and one of the duets fro the set is “Hustler’s Ambition,” featuring Akon. It’s a tender collab that has Akon sweetly singing to his love interest, played by Monica, from afar due to his ambitious lifestyle. They accept the long distant relationship as a necessity to provide for their family. “I pray you make it back home safe tonight,” Monica tenderly sings. The guitar-laden tune was produced by Akon and Philip “Hardwork” Constable. Get into their loving serenade.
[tps_title]25. Fantasia – No Time For It[/tps_title]
Fantasia’s ‘No Time For It’ kick started her new chapter in life and musical path after signing with new management. The song describes her mindset of blocking all negativity from her life.
[tps_title]24. Anderson .Paak – Am I Wrong ft. ScHoolboy Q[/tps_title]
On ‘Am I Wrong,’ rising R&B artist Anderson .Paak offers funkadelic harmonies and melodies over throwback, groovy production by POMO while ScHoolboy Q enters mid-tune with a psychedelic verse. You may know Anderson from his breakout performances on Dr. Dre’s latest ‘Compton’ album.
[tps_title]23. Ro James – Permission[/tps_title]
Ro James has been walking the underground music scene for a long time, and 2016 seems to be his breakout year. Signed to RCA Records, the New York City native launched his album campaign with the first official single, “Permission.” Produced by Soundz (Justin Bieber, Trey Songz) and co-written by Ro & Verse Simmonds (Rihanna, Chris Brown, K. Michelle), the sultry ballad captures Ro’s unique style and rugged sex appeal. “Permission” follows up his 2013 offering, ‘Coke, Jack & Cadillacs EP’ as well as a few stragglers. The record was nominated for “Best R&B Performance” at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
[tps_title]22. Lloyd – Tru[/tps_title]
“Tru” is a re-introduction from Lloyd, a musical letter to fans to catch up on what he’s been up to during his 5-year hiatus from music. “It was just pure therapy; It was only for me,” Lloyd said about the independently released record. “I remember the first few times people would listen to it, I would leave the studio. I could never look at people while they were listening to it.” Lloyd’s new EP, Tru, is available now via his Young Goldie Music imprint and EMPIRE.
[tps_title]21. Musiq – I Do[/tps_title]
‘I Do’ is the first release from Musiq Soulchild following his run at rapping (we’ll forget that part of his career). The single strikes a familiar chord with its soulful vibe as Musiq reminds his love (and his fans), “I ain’t going nowhere.” The song appears on Musiq’s latest album, Life on Earth.
[tps_title]20. Solange – Cranes in The Sky[/tps_title]
‘Cranes in The Sky,’ lifted from Solange’s critically-acclaimed ‘A Seat at the Table’ album, feels vintage in sound and visual. “I tried to drink it away / I tried to put one in the air/ I tried to dance it away / I tried to change it with my hair,” she sings of the condition of trying to escape our pain and true selves.
[tps_title]19. Tessanne Chin – Love Suicide[/tps_title]
You may know her as the winner of the fifth season of “The Voice,” but Tessanne Chin is proving to be much more than that. “Love Suicide” reveals those dimensions we love from Tessanne; It features throwback vibes with an old-school bassline and stellar vocals. Those things, along with the piano accompaniment is reminiscent of an old Alicia Keys record. “’Love Suicide’ represents a soulful, sexy but edgy side to me,” she says.
[tps_title]18. PARTYNEXTDOOR – Come And See Me[/tps_title]
“Come and See Me” is the second single from Canadian recording artist PartyNextDoor second studio album, ‘PartyNextDoor 3.’ The record features guest vocals from his OVO Sound boss Drake and was produced by frequent OVO Sound collaborator Noah “40” Shebib. “Come and See Me” peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming PartyNextDoor’s highest-charting single to date.
[tps_title]17. John Legend – Love Me Now[/tps_title]
On ‘Love Me Now,’ which boasts a different vibe than his 2013 mega hit ‘All Of Me,’ John Legend puts forth an uptempo groove full of commercial appeal. His trademark tone and emotional delivery is a mainstay as he sings, “I don’t know who’s gonna kiss you when I’m gone.” The music video features Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen and their baby girl Luna as they share tender moments.
[tps_title]16. Yuna & Usher – Crush[/tps_title]
On the soft duet, ‘Crush,’ Yuna and Usher sing to each other as potential love interests. Straying from her signature ambient, folk sound, Yuna says she was inspired by the 90s vibe of TLC, Aaliyah, and Alicia Keys when “Crush” came to be. “When I wrote this I was studying Alicia Keys, Aaliyah , TLC, and I was like man, I gotta write stuff like this,” she says in the behind-the-scenes clip of the video shoot. Yuna’s third studio album, Chapters, is available via Verve Records.
[tps_title]15. Beyoncé – Hold Up[/tps_title]
“Hold Up” is the third single from Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade. In December 2016, “Hold Up” received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
[tps_title]14. Bryson Tiller – Sorry Not Sorry[/tps_title]
“Sorry Not Sorry” is the third single from Bryson Tiller’s debut studio album, Trapsoul.
[tps_title]13. Eric Benet – Sunshine ft. Tamia[/tps_title]
There are only a few male/female R&B collaborators out there that are magical together! Eric Benét and Tamia are surely in that conversation. The longtime collaborators teamed up again for the remix to “Sunshine,” a single from Benét’s self-titled eighth studio album. On the smooth ballad, both Benét and Tamia shine with pristine vocals as they sing effortlessly about finding their way back to love.
[tps_title]12. Maxwell – Lake By the Ocean[/tps_title]
“Lake By The Ocean” is the first single from Maxell’s highly-anticipated new album, blackSUMMERS’night. “Lake by the Ocean” is written and produced by Musze, and his longtime collaborator Hod David, and is a classic-sounding Maxwell hit. Using his famous falsetto, Maxwell offers an elegant, slinky, yearning song that echoes his 2009 smash “Pretty Wings” or his early hit “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).”
“Heartbreak is always at the core of most of the things I write,” he says.
[tps_title]11. Alicia Keys – Blended Family[/tps_title]
For years, Alicia Keys was called a homewrecker by Mashonda, the ex-wife of her producer husband Swizz Beatz, as well as fans who sided with her. Now that Keys has two young boys with Swizz, Egypt, 5, and Genesis, 1, and all three adults are getting along, Keys wrote a song about it called “Blended Family (What You Do For Love)” ft. A&AP Rocky. The lighthearted, uptempo tune addresses her family dynamics as a fully-functioning unit; no more drama here!
The candid, black and white visual shows Keys and her blended family (her children with Swizz Beatz, Egypt and Genesis, as well as children from the producer’s past relationships with Nicole Levy and Mashonda Tifere, Prince Nasir and Kasseem) and their happy lives making it work.
[tps_title]10. Usher – No Limit Feat. Young Thug[/tps_title]
Usher’s “No Limit,” featuring rapper Young Thug, is a bouncy groove produced by Brandon “B.A.M.” Hodge and Christopher Perry that flips the meaning of “Master P” into something else other than the New Orleans rap mogul and his “No Limit” label. The record appeared on Usher’s eighth studio album, ‘Hard II Love.’
[tps_title]9. Rihanna – Sex With Me[/tps_title]
‘Sex With Me’ is a bonus track off the deluxe version of Rihanna’s eighth studio album, Anti. The record contains dreamy production which hears Rihanna talking about her beauty and sex game, “before closing with a trippy blend of vocals.”
[tps_title]8. Beyoncé – Sorry[/tps_title]
“Formation” is the second single from Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade. “Sorry” is an electro-R&B song with a thumping rhythm. In the music video, Serena Williams twerks and Beyonce takes over a bus with other women rocking warrior paint.
[tps_title]7. Bryson Tiller – Exchange[/tps_title]
“Exchange” is a single from Bryson Tiller’s debut album, TrapSoul. The song contains a sample of K.P. & Envyi’s 1998 song “Swing My Way”.
[tps_title]6. Jeremih – Oui[/tps_title]
‘Oui (You & I)’ is lifted from Jeremih’s Late Nights: The Album. The clever, French title serves as a sweet promise for a committed companionship. “There’s no we without you and I,” he sings on the staccato piano and trap track.
[tps_title]5. Rihanna – Needed Me[/tps_title]
After her single “Work” thoroughly permeated our brains, Rihanna hit us with the mid-tempo banger “Needed Me.” The song embodies RiRi’s defiant attitude when it comes to getting the upper hand with a man’s emotions: “But baby, don’t get it twisted / You was just another n*gga on the hit list…You needed me / Oooh, you needed me / To feel a little more, and give a little less / Know you hate to confess /But baby ooh, you needed me,” she sings.
[tps_title]4. Beyoncé – Formation[/tps_title]
“Formation” is the lead single from Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade. The music video and Super Bowl 50 performance ruffled some feathers, and Bey released the below message to quell things:
“I mean, I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
In the video (filmed in New Orleans), Bey proudly claims her culture and heritage, and the current issues it faces.
[tps_title]3. Adele – Hello[/tps_title]
The rollout of Adele’s album ’25’ officially begun with the release of the video for “Hello,” the LP’s first single. The record broke records on pretty much every chart and R&B fans loved it.
[tps_title]2. Chris Brown – Back To Sleep[/tps_title]
“Back To Sleep” is the third single off Chris Brown’s seventh studio album, Royalty. In true Marvin Gaye fashion, Brown promises to put the magic, sexual touch on his girl to calm any afflictions, much like Gaye’s hit song, “Sexual Healing.” “Just let me ride/ Sex you back to sleep, girl,” he sings on the chorus.
[tps_title]1. Rihanna – Work (Feat. Drake)[/tps_title]
‘Work,’ featuring Drake, is the lead single off Rihanna’s eighth studio album, Anti, released on January 28, 2016. The Island-vibe gem was covered by many and torch clubs around the world. Singersroom fans fed on this record, making it the MOST POPULAR song of 2016.