Best R&B and Soul Songs of the 2000s

The Decade's 20 Finest Singles ...

If the 2000s were best known for anything, it's for the dominance of a handful of women on the R&B charts. Destiny's Child (and later Beyonce), Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys were the decade's biggest artists, and consistently put out some of the decade's best music. They're all represented on our list of the best singles of the 2000s, as are other incredibly talented male singers like Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton and D'Angelo. So without further ado, here's About.com's picks for the best R&B/Soul singles from 2000-2009.

1
"Fallin'," Alicia Keys (2001)

This track, which was the lead single on Alicia's 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor, is the rare song that makes such a huge impression that you can remember where and when you heard it for the first time. The song made it apparent from the very start that Alicia was a special artist making very special music.

2
"Do You Feel Me?," Anthony Hamilton (2007)

"Do You Feel Me," which was recorded for the soundtrack to the Denzel Washington flick American Gangster, is a great, meaty old-school track that sticks to your ribs like good Soul food.

3
"Be Without You," Mary J. Blige (2005)

This song is on Mary's The Breakthough album, which was released in November 2005. It was a hit in the first half of 2006 and became the most successful release in the history of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, spending 15 weeks at the top. Among the things that make "Be Without You" so great are the strong sentiments of faith and loyalty expressed, as well as the unbelievably strong vocals.

4
"Rehab," Amy Winehouse (2006)

"Rehab," as you probably know by know, is a song about Amy's resistance to her (now ex-) managers trying to get her to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program. "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said 'No, no, no,' " she defiantly sings over a shimmying horns-and-percussion-laced Motown-inspired beat. Eventually she did make it to rehab, but fortunately, she recorded this track before then.

5
"Pretty Wings," Maxwell (2009)

"Pretty Wings," which was released in April 2009, is "about the last relationship I had," Maxwell said about the song in a recent interview. "How you meet the person of your dreams but at the wrong time ... the song is a testament to what I wanted to say and say, to her."

6
"Honey," Erykah Badu (2008)

Not only is this one of the funkiest, catchiest tunes of 2008, it's also got one of the most creative videos in R&B music history behind it. With this one song, Erykah breathed new life into a music world that had been stagnant for months.

7
"U Remind Me," Usher (2001)

This ia a rare song, in which a man isn't chasing a woman, he's actually explaining to a female why he won't - why he can't - hook up with her. It's a great concept and is one of the song's the best exemplifies Usher's stylish charm. It's simple and to the point without going overboard.

8
"Survivor," Destiny's Child (2001)

Female-empowerment jams get no better than this. It's like Aretha Franklin's "Respect," but for the hip-hop generation. "You thought that I'd be weak without ya, But I'm stronger/You thought that I'd be broke without ya, But I'm richer/You thought that I'd be sad without ya, I laugh harder/You thought I wouldn't grow without ya, Now I'm wiser." You tell 'em, girls!

9
"Untitled (How Does It Feel)," D'Angelo (2000)

This song just absolutely screams 'It's sexy time.' Even just listening to this track might make you pregnant.

10
"Do You?," Ne-Yo (2007)

I mean, who hasn't wondered at least once if their ex still thinks about them sometimes? Ne-Yo's knack for great songwriting came through again on this song, which is the second single from his Because of You album. If you get a chance, check out the remix with Mary J. Blige. Not quite as great, but still very good.

11
"You Don't Know My Name," Alicia Keys (2003)

This song was the biggest hit of Alicia's career so far, edging out her debut single, "Fallin'." This is another one of those songs with an innovative concept. The spoken-word part where she calls the customer on her cellphone and the signal starts breaking up? Brilliant.

12
"Independent Women," Destiny's Child (2001)

Just like DC's "Survivor," this is another great female empowerment track. If there's one thing Destiny's Child did better as a group than Beyonce does as a solo artist, it's creating crafty hooks, including: "The shoes on my feet, I've bought it/The clothes I'm wearing, I've bought it/The rock I'm rockin', I've bought it."

13
"No More Drama," Mary J. Blige (2001)

Words can't do Ms. Mary's powerful, emotion-filled vocals on this song justice. It's a perfect example of why she's the unequivocal Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.

14
"Say My Name," Destiny's Child (2000)

This has arguably the most clever lyrics of any Destiny's Child track. After listening to this song, even the most cheating of men could probably feel what it must be like on the other side of the equation, that's how good the girls were at conveying the theme here.

15
"I Am Not My Hair," India.Arie (2005)

The original version of this song was released in December 2005, but this list's version is the remix featuring Akon dropped in 2006. The song, one of the most uplifting singles of the list, is about learning to be comfortable with who you are and loving yourself regardless of your outside appearance.

16
"100 Yard Dash," Raphael Saadiq (2008)

"100 Yard Dash" is a two-minute, 18-second ditty about a man who's completely twisted over a honey-sweet woman. If you didn't already know the song was brand-new, you'd swear it was about 50 years old. Saadiq is that good at emulating the sound of that era that each song sounds like an authentic piece of music from the past, instead of just like someone who's trying to imitate.

17
"Give it to Me Right," Melanie Fiona (2009)

"Give it To Me Right" is a highly addictive track about needing a man who knows how to properly handle his business in the bedroom. It's sexy without being too sexual and gets a point across without being crass or vulgar, which is one of the great things about it. Oh, and if you're wondering what song is being sampled here, it's "Time of the Season" by '60s psychedelic pop group The Zombies.

18
"Let Me Love You," Mario (2005)

Beautifully simplistic and stands the test of time well. The best song of Mario's career, by far.

19
"Soldier of Love," Sade (2009)

After a hiatus of almost 10 years, one of music's sweetest voices returned in December 2009 with "Soldier of Love," the first single from her album of the same name. The song, which Sade wrote and co-produced, features a pulsating and anthemic drum beat, plus the haunting vocals that she's so well-known for.

20
"We Belong Together," Mariah Carey (2005)

What else can be said about Mariah and this song that hasn't already been said millions of times over by people all over the world? Let's just say that it shines like a star and leave it at that.