First impressions are said to be everything. In a field such as entertainment, a lot of times it can make or break you. Presenting an image or sound to the public can be tricky. For the most part, most have short term memories and that could swing two ways: they either forget you all together or forget you enough so that you can repackage and present again. For these 20 artists, they came out of the gate with heat.
Toni Braxton “Love Shoulda Brought You Home”: Braxton has noted many times that her breakout song was meant for Anita Baker. She recorded the song as a demo to present to Baker but Baker’s pregnancy caused her to pass on the song. This was Braxton’s first solo single and it was featured on the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry film Boomerang. Baker also passed on Braxton’s “Another Sad Love Song,” which also became a hit.
Whitney Houston “You Give Good Love”: The song “Thinking About You” from Houston’s debut was released prior to “You Give Good Love” but Arista marketed this track as her lead single from the album. Houston was also featured on a duet with Teddy Pendergrass, which ultimately kept her out of the category for Best New Artist at the Grammys when her first official single debuted. Confusion aside, it was one thing to hear Houston alongside another legend, but hearing her rip a track solo is an entirely different experience as she proved with her first career hit.
TLC “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”: Blunt and funky; the debut from the biggest selling R&B Female group of all-time gave a entirely new meaning to the song title that the legendary Temptations first made famous back in 1966.
Mariah Carey “Vision of Love”: Carey’s debut single showcased exactly what we would be in store for her entire career; straight sanging. This was the first of the Songbird’s 18 number one hits.
Britney Spears “…Baby One More Time”: This song was originally presented to TLC but knowing that it didn’t fit their style, they passed on the Max Martin pop tune. It was the perfect song for a then 15 year Britney Spears. Spears recorded the track, put on her uniform, and the rest is history.
Alicia Keys “Fallin’”: The braids, the piano, and the swagger are the things that made Alicia Keys stand out when she arrived on the scene in 2001. The Keys’ penned hit was inescapable and helped her nab five Grammys for her first album Songs in A Minor.
Jackson 5 “I Want You Back”: Five brothers from Gary, Indiana topped the charts and never looked back. Most importantly, it introduced us to a young genius who would change the entire landscape of pop culture.
Mary J. Blige “You Remind Me”: Our first sample of the Queen of Hip Hop and Soul was a mixture of what would define her entire career; a lot toughness and a whole lot of soul.
The Notorious B.I.G “Juicy”: Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” has been sampled so many times but because Biggie added his flow to the beat, it is often credited as a sample of his debut in 1994. Throw this on at any party and watch how Biggie’s voice mellows out the entire scene.
Brandy “I Wanna Be Down”
Aaliyah “Back & Forth”
Monica “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)
Using gimmicks has always been a thing in entertainment and having children/preteens sing is one of those things. The 90s had a lot of those gimmicks but it also had some young talent that was legit. Case in the point: the trio of Brandy, Monica, and Aaliyah. Brandy and Aaliyah struck first in 1994 and Monica followed in 1995. The age of the singers became irrelevant because the songs were straight bangers. We never got to see all of what Aaliyah had in store for us but what she did leave with us will always jam.
Ashanti “Foolish”: The Biggie sample is what pulls you in, but make no mistake that Ashanti does more than enough to keep your attention.
Beyonce feat. Jay-Z “Crazy In Love”: We knew she was something special while buying time with Destiny’s Child, but by the time she reached the first set of “uh ohs” you knew that Beyonce was going to be a huge single force. The song was our first glimpse into the creative chemistry that her and now husband Jay-Z share. Tell the truth, you still hit that dance on every uh oh whenever you hear the song played.
LL Cool J “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”: Braid Paisley collaboration fiasco aside, there was a time when Cool James made tracks that were actually…cool. Music lovers all around shared the baby faced rappers affinity for his radio.
The Sugarhill Gang “Rappers Delight”: I mean, the song is credited with popularizing Hip Hop around the world. Plus, that opening line remains one of the greatest lyrics of ever-dom.
Missy Elliot “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”: Missy Elliot is a creative genius. This was proven when she rocked a black garbage bag in the video and still made you agree with her being fly.
Boyz II Men “Motownphilly”: The title of the song is perfect because it described the group and music perfectly. The group carried a Motown inspired groove with a mixture of the edginess from their city Philly. Plus, those bruthas could and still can just flat out sang.
Nelly “Country Grammer”: Catchy. That is the best way to describe Nelly’s career. Dude had a knack for writing songs that would have you singing along unknowingly. So was the case with his first effort out of the gate. In fact, it worked so well that it helped set Nelly up to later become of the best-selling hip hop artists of all-time.
Kanye West “Through The Wire”: Whatever your personal thoughts on Kanye at this present moment, you cannot deny the force which he came with in 2002 when he dropped his first single “Through the Wire.” Dude literally spit through wire. With his jaw wired shut due to a car accident, Kanye entered the scene as only Kanye could: boldly.