Top Ten Songs on Aaliyah's One in a MillionAaliyah’s legacy is finally being given the recognition it deserves with the rest of her catalog being released to streaming. As problematic as the start of her career was, her talent was always evident and truly shone through on the stylistic choices she made on her groundbreaking second album. Where many 90s R&B albums sound like time capsules, this one still holds up.
This is, without a doubt, the best R&B single of the 90s, possibly of all time. It has an almost unsettling minimalist electronic arrangement and set against Aaliyah's sensual metallic crisp, layered vocals, the combination is a heavenly pairing. Timbaland and Missy were a formidable songwriting and production duo and Aaliyah was the perfect vehicle to interpret and deliver this masterpiece to the world.
This is a song production masterclass. It features classic slinky 80s soul vibes, provided through carefully structured electronic instrumentation and halfway through the song, a guitar solo followed by a key change and complete rhythmic shift to a 90s hip-hop groove. And the way Aaliyah modifies her vocal delivery style to both sounds demonstrates her natural musical instincts.
This winding rhythmic new-gen funk track was designed for Aaliyah. Her natural street style delivers this song with such a lovely range of vocal styles from soulfully jilted side girl, to voicing the unaware girlfriend and throwing in some air light falsetto adlibs for good measure.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for a sappy Diane Warren ballad. And it's Aaliyah's imperfect delivery that makes it feel so heartfelt. She goes from experienced and wise behind her years grown woman to first time heartbroken teenager all in one phrase and it somehow just works. Whether the vocal breaks were intentional or not, Aaliyah sells the emotion of the song like a professional.
The quintessential Timbaland electro-R&B ballad style he became known for as the 2000s. A sound designed to hold up well. And again the vocal choices Aaliyah makes, like recording the chorus and essentially using that as a background vocal while she ad-libs often in her falsettos over top of it creating a beautiful atmospheric sound.
Perfect example of prog soul. Aaliyahs vocals are still characteristically breathy and dualistic but still emotive and direct and the atmosphere of the song being relatively softer than the rest of the album. Still possessing its signature percussive elements, it's a bit less busy so that the attitude of the lyrics can be felt harder.
This is a delightfully refreshed version of a tried and true classic. Aaliyah doing her thing vibing and singing the song in the blissful cross section between her modal and head voice registers à la Janet Jackson. And the choice to have Slick Rick add new raps gave it the added touch to sell the nu-funk of this remake.
Something about the juxtaposition of the smoothness of Aaliyah's vocals over aggressive percussive instrumentals just makes for a really . For a song called "Hot Like Fire", the atmosphere is almost unnervingly cool.
The rhythm of this song is insane. Try not dancing to it! And again, she demonstrates a masterful ear for layering the vocals in her songs.
This is definitely an attitude driven song continuing the tone and mood of its predecessor, "Heartbroken" with the tone being a bit more pointed, fast pace and busier in its instrumental.