Nightlife in the past 20 years without soulful and hip-hop flavored crossover pop hits would be quite the different scene. This is especially true at our nightclub Decades, where a ton of the songs that were hugely popular during this era dot our DJ’s setlists. Most intriguingly regarding these songs, Drake’s 2016 single “One Dance” was streamed one BILLION times this year making it statistically quite possibly the number one R & B-to-pop crossover hit of all time. Alongside Drake’s huge hit, here’s nine other essential tunes that always fill the dance floor both at Decades and nightclubs worldwide.
10. Next – Too Close (1997) (PURCHASE HERE)
Nothing quite says a night at the club like slow grinding on the dance floor with a member of the opposite sex. That’s the magic of Next’s late 90s R & B to pop crossover hit. Impressively, the song has had a recent revival via 2015’s popular “Why You Always Lying” internet meme. Also interesting about this #1 dance and pop single is that it was produced by none other than Naught By Nature’s DJ, Kay Gee.
9. Dru Hill – In My Bed (1996) (PURCHASE HERE)
Though Dru Hill’s lead singer Sisqo is likely better known for his love of singing about “thong, th-thong thong thongs,” his breakout moment came alongside his three Baltimore-based buddies with whom he’d been singing since high school. “In My Bed” was remixed by legendary So So Def Records boss Jermaine Dupri, and the result was an instant club smash. The song that chronicles concerns about a cheating mate is still a heater that, when dropped at the right time, excites an entire dance floor.
8. R. Kelly – Ignition (remix) (2003) (PURCHASE HERE)
The infamous and self-proclaimed “pied piper of R & B” has released 17 albums in his 25-year mainstream recording career. Those albums have sold 50 million copies, and spawned 30 top 10 singles. Of those 30 singles, easily the biggest club groover is “the remix to Ignition.” The original version of “Ignition” was released in 2002, but it’s 2003’s remix, that’s on the updated version of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time in 2010 at number 494, and listed at #19 on Pitchfork Media’s top 500 songs of the 2000s.
7. Usher – You Make Me Wanna (1997) (PURCHASE HERE)
Usher’s had an incredible career insofar as massive singles. But the song that’s most responsible for leading him to the heights he’s reached with the likes of David Guetta, Diplo, Lil Jon and more is 1997’s “You Make Me Wanna.” Produced by Jermaine Dupri, the song spent 46 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts between 1997 and 1998, and is one of Billboard’s Top 100 All-Time pop hits.
6. Pharrell – Happy (2013) (PURCHASE HERE)
The only Grammy and Oscar-nominated single on this list, Pharrell’s evolution from being the New Jack Swing-style producer of Wrecks-N-Effect’s “Rumpshaker” to making retro-soul anthem “Happy” 20 years later is nothing short of truly impressive. What makes “Happy” stand out is just how deceptively simple in style and breezy in feel it is. A song that pretty much allows for everyone to feel comfortable on the dancefloor, of Pharrell’s many hits, this one is undeniably the statistical best.
5. Beyonce – Single Ladies (2008) (PURCHASE HERE)
If you’re “[u]p in the club, just broke up, and doing your own little thing,” this is your favorite song. When you break down what makes Beyonce’s biggest songs her biggest songs, it’s that they have such far-reaching and timeless appeal that makes them important. Being newly single and ready to mingle is totally an emotion that so many can understand. In an honor that’s absolutely deserved, it’s one of tne of the best-selling singles of all time.
4. Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain – Blame It (On The Alcohol) (2008) (PURCHASE HERE)
The only Academy Award winner for Best Actor on this list, Jamie Foxx crossed entertainment genres in 2008 and released Grammy’s Best R & B Performance honors. Key as well to this song’s massive success is the appearance of T-Pain’s autotune enhanced vocals. The computerized voice alteration software was a huge part of many hits of this era of R & B-to-pop crossover, this one being the most significant chart topper.
3. Rihanna – Diamonds (2012) (PURCHASE HERE)
When Sia, Benny Blanco, Stargate, and Rihanna joined forces to create a song, there were a combined total of 81 hit singles created between the members of the quartet. Thus, it’s not at all surprising that the soulful, yet breezy tropical pop jam that resulted occurred. “Diamonds” topped music charts in over twenty countries, has sold nearly 11 million total singles, has a remix featuring Kanye West, a video viewed nearly one billion times on Youtube, and numerous other honors.
2. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (2013) (PURCHASE HERE)
Though quite controversially inspired by Marvin Gaye’s 1974 disco hit “Got To Give It Up,” that didn’t stop Robin Thicke from having a huge crossover hit with his TI and Pharrell-featuring funk single. At its height, it was played nearly 230 million times in one week on American radio stations alone. Selling roughly as many singles as Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” unlike RIhanna’s hit, it’s easily Thicke’s most pop culture impacting single-to-date, and quite possibly, ever.
1. Drake – One Dance (2016) (PURCHASE HERE)
Having sold five million copies and having been streamed countless billions of times, Drake’s 2016 R & B-to-pop jam of the year is actually one of the most statistically dominant pop songs of all time. Tropical, yet soulful in sound and style, it’s a song all about going out to the club, and, similar to Next’s #10 song “Too Close,” all about that crowning achievement of having just “one slow grinding dance with a member of the opposite sex. In blending dance, dancehall, Afrobeat, and hip-hop into a potent combination, this one is truly an all-time super jam from the modern age.