R&B, short for rhythm and blues, has seen the emergence of some of the most iconic bands in music history. From the smooth harmonies of TLC to the sultry sounds of Destiny’s Child, these bands have defined the genre with their unforgettable melodies and soulful lyrics, making them the best R&B bands of all time. Their timeless music continues to captivate audiences, transcending generations and leaving an indelible mark on the world of rhythm and blues.
These voices soothed us, inspired us, and pushed us through every raw emotion and milestone in life. When you hear those soulful voices crooning about love, heartache, and the rollercoaster of life, it’s like they’re narrating your very existence. Their melodies become the backdrop to your most cherished memories, the anthems to your triumphs, and the soothing balms to your tribulations.
Decades may pass, but their music remains as timeless and relevant as ever. Though time heals all wounds and some memories fade, just a few bars of an old R&B melody is like a secret time machine that transports you back to the long forgotten moments.
Taking a deep dive into the genre, StudyFinds has compiled this list of the best R&B bands to ever take the stage. Did we miss one of your favorite? Leave a comment to let us know!
The List: Best R&B Bands, According to Music Fans
TLC deserves to be at the top of our list of the best R&B Bands because they gave us the middle ground between the vigor of hip hop and the softness of the future of R&B. “Determined not to be like anything in the music market, T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli created their own lane with a style that combined sultry hip-hop with bold and expressive R&B. Plus, their fashion sense put many eyes in their direction — remember those condom-laced glasses,” writes The Boom Box. “They dropped their first project, ‘Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip,’ in 1992, after signing to L.A. Reid’s LaFace Records, a joint venture created alongside Babyface. To many people’s surprise, TLC sold more than four million copies of their debut LP and watched two singles reach platinum status. Not bad for a new girl group from Atlanta.”
Although all three women were certified beauties, it wasn’t just their looks that caused everyone to take notice. “The first R&B/Hip-Hop group, TLC broke ground jumping out of the gate with songs about female sexual desire ‘Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg’ with a then-unheard-of focus on safe-sex and consent, colorful condoms firmly affixed to their clothing and glasses,” adds Essence. “Armed with tomboy-chic and brash attitude, and an arsenal of catchy hits and sing-along-able vocals, these CrazySexyCool ladies were destined for stardom with hits like ‘What About Your Friends,’ ‘Creep,’ and ‘Waterfalls,’ which undoubtedly helped push their sophomore album to RIAA Diamond status.”
Before their own waterfalls disappeared, TLC sold more than 65 million records in their brief reign atop the charts, according to Live About. “Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas recorded ten top ten singles, four number one hits, and four multi-platinum albums,” shares Live About. “TLC has won numerous honors, including five Grammys, five Soul Train Music Awards, three Soul Train Lady of Soul awards (including Entertainer of the Year), three Billboard Music Awards, and one American Music Award. The group suffered from financial problems and disbanded before the death of Lopez in 2002.”
2. En Vogue
3. Boyz II Men
Listening to R&B music is like catching up with an old friend over a cozy cup of coffee. Listening to Boyz II Men is like having your oldest friend over for coffee and feeling 20 years younger all over again. “Managed by Michael Bivins from the best R&B group of all times New Edition (yeah, we went there), Nate, Mike, Shawn, and Wanya (together known as Boyz II Men) showed us the meaning of a cappella perfection along with scorching chemistry on stage. And they’re still nailing it to this day like it was their first,” writes OC Weekly. “Their debut track ‘Motownphilly’ got our attention but a slew of songs like ‘Bended Knee,’ ‘I’ll Make Love to You,’ ‘Water Runs Dry,’ ‘4 Seasons Of Loneliness,’ and ‘Uhh Ahh’ kept us there. Their hit ‘End of the Road’ basically became a graduation song, a last smash song, and a funeral song.”
4. Destiny’s Child
By the time Destiny’s Child hit the music scene, we were well aware of what an all-girl group should bring to the table and DC fulfilled our expectations perfectly. “It was 1998 when Destiny’s Child stepped in to the spotlight with their self-titled debut album; it was also the same year The Box turned into every tweens go-to music channel. For months, the then quartet’s major single, ‘No, No No, Pt. 2,’ was on replay, giving every girl a reason to sing ‘You be sayin’ no, no, no, no, no / When It’s really yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ The song shot to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and from there it was only a matter of time before the group itself shot up to No. 1,” shares The Boom Box. “One year later, during the summer of 1999, Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson released their sophomore LP, ‘The Writings On the Wall,’ and the girl group from Houston saw instant success. The album spawned four hit singles, two of which sat at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. The project became the group’s best-selling album, moving more than eight million copies.”
With a formula so well played, it’s no wonder DC immediately began racking up honors. “Destiny’s Child is one of the most honored female groups of all-time, winning three Grammys, three NAACP Image Awards, five American Music Awards, four Soul Train Music Awards, and ten Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. The group was also recognized with the Soul Train Quincy Jones Award for career achievement in 2006 and the Soul Train Sammy Davis Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year in 2001,” adds Live About. “The trio’s hits included ‘Bootylicious,’ ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Jumpin Jumpin.’ Lead singer Beyonce launched her solo career in 2004, and she reunited with group members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a performance during halftime of the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans.”
When many bands fall apart when members leave, Destiny’s Child seemed to grow stronger. “While there was a shake-up among group members from a quartet to a trio, that didn’t stop any of the women from having further success, whether in the group or solo,” mentions Yard Barker. “Over the years, Destiny’s Child has gifted fans with plenty of anthems, including ‘Bills, Bills, Bills,’ ‘Independent Women,’ ‘Survivor,’ and ‘Soldier.’ Destiny’s Child is one of those groups that fans would love to see reunite on a future tour.”
SWV doesn’t appear last on our list because they are the last on our minds. In fact, who can remember the ’90s without eventually smiling about a memory associated with one of their songs? “Naming your group Sisters With Voices means you gotta bring it vocally,” writes Creators for the Culture. “SWV were a group at the forefront of the hip hop soul sound movement. Blending those hard-hitting beats and their melodic vocals, hits like ‘Weak,’ ‘I’m So Into You,’ ‘You’re the One,’ ‘Rain,’ ‘Can We,’ and the remake of Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’ titled ‘Right Here/Human Nature,’ helped Taj, Coko and Lele become one of the top-selling female groups of all time, selling over 15 million records and cementing their spot as one of the best R&B girl groups ever.”
Music influencers? Yes. Fashion influencers? For sure. “These Sisters With Voices left the prissy polish of singing groups of the past behind and pioneered the ’round the way style aesthetic for 90’s singers, with gelled swoops, long intricately-designed acrylics, and baggy jeans and cargos that as the wrapping for their brand of feminine soul,” explains Essence.
SWV delivered more than we could ask for and fans were never satisfied. “After their successful debut ‘It’s About Time’ the trio left fans waiting for what seemed like an eternity. SWV then embarked on another ‘New Beginning’ four years later when they released their much-anticipated sophomore album. Fans were wooed by their soulful voices and tomboyish yet feminine mystique,” raves The Boom Box.
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