Our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list takes a look at one of music’s most successful blue-eyed soul singers. She was known as the “ivory queen” of soul. Her voice made people think she was an African American singer. People were surprised to find out that she was Caucasian. In addition to singing and songwriting, she’s an accomplished musician. She was able to play the guitar, keyboard and the conga. Fans knew her as “Lady T.” Her hit singles include “Lovergirl,” “Square Biz,” “I Need Your Lovin’,” “Ooo La La La,” “Portuguese Love” as well as others. Marie’s albums sold over 2.5 million copies. Shockingly she’s never won any Grammy Award for her work. Let’s get to know Teena Marie better.
Mary Christine Brockert was born March 5, 1956 – December 26, 2010. She started performing at the age of two. She guest starred on the comedy series The Beverly Hillbillies when she was eight. She went on to teach herself how to play instruments. She formed a band with her younger brother and cousin. In 1976, Marie met Motown producer Hal Davis. The meeting led to her auditioning for a movie that Motown was producing. The movie didn’t work out, but Berry Gordy was impressed with her vocals. She would go on to record several unreleased tracks before she caught the eye of singer Rick James. He loved her music. He was willing to give up a chance to work with singer Diana Ross so he could work with Marie.
She released her first album Wild and Peaceful in 1979. It peaked at number 18 on the r&b charts and 94 on the Billboard 200 charts. Rick James wrote and produced the majority of the album. The producers decided not to put her face on the cover of the album. Many people thought she was an African American singer. The album features the singles “I’m a Sucker for Your Love,” “Don’t Look Back” and “Every Little Bit Hurts.” Lady T was released in 1980. The album peaked at number 18 on the r&b charts and number 45 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Can It Be Love,” “Behind the Groove” and “Lonely Desire.” Irons in the Fire was also released in 1980. It peaked at number nine on the r&b charts and number 38 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “I Need Your Lovin’,” “Chains” and “Young Love.”
It Must Be Magic came out in 1981. Marie wrote the majority of the album. The album peaked at number two on the r&b charts and number 23 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album features the singles “Square Biz,” “Portuguese Love” and “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Marie was nominated for a Grammy Award for this album. Marie left Motown Records after facing a legal battle with the label over her contract. Her lawsuit made it possible for artists not to be tied under a contract without releasing new music.
Teena Marie signed with Epic Records. She released Robbery under her new label in 1983. The album peaked at number 13 on the r&b charts and 119 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Cassanova Brown,” “Fix It,” “Midnight Magnet” and “Dear Lover.” Starchild was released in 1984. It peaked at number nine on the r&b charts and number 31 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Lovergirl,” “My Dear Mr. Gaye,” “Jammin'” and “Out on a Limb.” The album went gold. It’s her most successful album.
Emerald City was released in 1986. The album peaked at number 20 on the r&b charts and number 81 on the Billboard 200 charts. The project features the singles “Lips to Find You,” “Shangri-La,” “You So Heavy” and “Sunny Skies.” Naked to the World came out in 1988. It peaked at number 15 on the r&b charts and number 65 on the Billboard 200 charts. She worked with Rick James again for this album. It features the singles “Ooo La La La,” “Work It, “Surrealistic Pillow,” “Call Me (I Got Yo’ Number),” “The Once and Future Dream” and “Crocodile Tears.”
Ivory came out in 1990. Marie decided to change her style for this album. She decided to create a hip-hop album. It didn’t match the success of her previous albums. It peaked at number 27 on the r&b charts and 132 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Here’s Looking at You,” “If I Were a Bell,” “Just Us Two” and “Since Day One.” Marie left Epic Records after this one. She went the independent route. She signed under her own label Sarai Records. Passion Play came out in 1994. It features the singles “Main Squeeze,” “Smooth Tip,” “Sweet on You,” “Hypnotized” and “Warm as Momma.”
Marie released La Dona in 2004. She reunited with Rick James on this album. The album peaked at three on the r&b charts and six on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Still in Love,” “A Rose By Any Other Name,” “I Got You,” “Off the Chain” and “The Mackin’ Game.” Sapphire came out in 2006. The album peaked at number three on the r&b charts and number 24 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album features the singles “Ooh We,” “Corrupt,” “You Blow Me Away” and “Resilient Sapphire.” Conga Square came out in 2009. It peaked at number four on the r&b charts and number 20 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Can’t Last a Day” and “You Baby.” This was the last album she recorded before she passed away.
Teena Marie helped open doors for other females. She also made it possible for a Caucasian artist to be successful in r&b music. She helped pave the way for other blue-eyed soul singers to get airplay. She was a talented singer, songwriter and musician. She left the world too soon, but her music will live on forever. Our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list will feature her best songs.
# 10 – It Must Be Magic
The first song on our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list is “It Must Be Magic” from the album of the same name. The song has a funk and soul sound. The seductive song is about a relationship with her lover. She talks about how his love makes her feel. She feels like she’s under his spell. She does a tribute to the Marvelettes’ song “My Baby Must Be a Magician.” She used some of the lyrics from the song.
The track has Rick James’ signature sound all over it. The melody is similar to James’ song “Cold Blooded.” The song is a classic funk jam. It’s a guitar and horn-driven song. The bassline is fire. It’s one of the best in music. The musicians did their thing on the track.
The arrangement cleverly mixes funk with soul music. There’s no way to sit still while listening to it. Teena Marie sounds soulful on the track. She hits all the right notes while she’s belting. Marie shows great control because she goes up and down effortlessly. She gave Rick James a shout-out in the song by saying a line from his song “Superfreak.” She shouts out to the Temptations to “sing” the same way he did in his song. This isn’t one of her biggest hit singles, but it’s worthy of a listen.
# 9 – Fix It
The next song on our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list is “Fix It” from the Robbery album. The song has a funk sound. The cautionary song is about a “fit it” man who will tell you what you want to hear and then break your heart. The song is relatable to anyone who is in a similar situation. There are plenty of players out there who tell you what you want to hear. To be fair, there are women who do the same thing to men.
Men and women can relate to this classic jam. The track has a very fast tempo. The musicians do an excellent job keeping up with the pace of the song. The pace moves pretty fast. It sounds like a lot of music playing at once. They should be commended for being able to keep up with each other without one musician falling behind. It has a classic 70s and early 80s sound. It sounds like disco meets funk music.
It has a sizzling synthesizer and funky rhythm guitar bass. The drumbeat is fire. We dare you to sit still while listening to the musicians. The music has an old-school sound, but it can still be appreciated today. Marie starts the song by talking instead of singing. She didn’t need to talk in the beginning, but it doesn’t hurt the song.
She sings after the first chorus. She deserves to be commended as well for being able to sing in time with the musicians. The arrangement is pretty fast so she could have fallen behind the musicians, but she kept up with them. She doesn’t really belt in the song, but it didn’t require power singing. The main focus of this track is the music and not her vocals.
# 8 – If I Were a Bell
The dreamy song is from the Ivory album. It has an r&b beat. The morning-after jam is about the way she feels about the man she loves. This song is the first ballad entry on our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list. The song is perfect bedroom music. This song is tailor made for quiet storm radio. The music is sensual and sultry. The music is a perfect combination of r&b and jazz. The song was released in the 90s, but it sounds like it was recorded in the 80s. The music has an old school sound, but it can still be appreciated today. The music is soft to give listeners a chance to embrace her vocals. Marie’s vocals are fantastic.
She pours her heart out as she talks about the man she loves. She cleverly compares herself to a bell. It’s not everyday people do that, but she found a way to make it work. She sings the song with a lot of soul and passion. This track gave her a chance to show the world that she could sing a ballad. She sounds right at home. This type of song would make you forget that she’s not African American. She proved that she deserved to be considered a soul singer.
Teena Marie practically invites the listeners to sing the chorus with her. The chorus is absolutely infectious and memorable. She holds a couple of notes at the end of the song that are not to be missed. The only complaint about the song is that her timing is a little off with the verses. She sings the verses faster than the music. This issue doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a magnificent song.
# 7 – I’m a Sucker for Your Love ft. Rick James
The funky song is from the Wild and Peaceful album. The track has a disco and funk beat. The drama-filled song is about the ups and downs of a relationship. This song is from her debut album. This is one of the songs that introduced the world to “Lady T.” This is one of the first duets Marie and James did together. This song has an excellent funk beat. The horn section and drumbeats are flawless. The bassline is genius. It sounds like a classic Rick James song. The music was designed to get you on the floor to dance. Rick James opens the song and brings his funky style to the track.
He is in his wheelhouse with this track. He is practically the “funk king” so he’s at home with this song. He sounds great on the track. He belts his verses throughout the song. The music is loud so he needed to belt so he could be heard. Marie joins him about a minute later. She brings the soul in the song. She doesn’t belt as loudly as Rick James, but she did her thing on the song. They did a great job together. They work so well together that it’s not a surprise that they collaborated on a lot of her songs.
# 6 – Behind the Groove
The energetic song is from the Lady T album. The song has a funk beat to it. The bouncy song is about dancing and finding romance. There’s no way to sit still listening to this track. The beat is energetic and bouncy. The bassline is insane. It has a crazy horn section. The guitar riffs are funky and rhythmic. Rick James‘ musical influence is all over this song. In fact, it sounds like the song was made for him. This song has enough grooves to put anyone in a good mood. Lyrically, the song doesn’t tell much of a story. The song is basically about dancing.
Many artists write songs about getting on the dance floor so there’s nothing new here. She adds her hat in the dancing ring. It sounds more like a novelty song than a song that will make you think or get emotional. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you shouldn’t expect much here. With that said, the song is catchy and will stay in your head. Teena Marie plays down her powerhouse vocals for the dance track. She doesn’t belt in the song. She does straight singing in it. She proved that her voice is pleasant on the ear without oversinging.
# 5 – Square Biz
The next song on our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list is “Square Biz” from the album It Must Be Magic. It has a funk beat. The forthcoming song is about her being honest with someone. The song has a great dance beat. The musical production is the epitome of great music. She took a page out of Rick James book with this track. Rick James created a sound for her that would have been appropriate for his own album. The song has a lot of energy. The song is tailor made to have you dancing in your seat or on the dance floor. The song is perfect for a cookout or a party. The song was recorded years ago, but the music is still banging to this day.
The music is just as great as the vocals. This song proves why Marie is the “Ivory Queen of Soul.” She shows her soulful side with this track. She sings in time with the beat and commands you to sing along with her. She really pours her heart out in the chorus. She showed that she had another skill. She’s not only a singer, but she has rhyming skills. She raps in part of the song.
She’s one of the first female singers to add a rap to a funk song. Debbie Harry was the first Caucasian female to add a rap to a song. Teena Marie was inspired by her to add a rap to this song. Marie showed she had a skill for rapping. Her singing ability is much better than her rapping, but she did it.
# 4 – Lovergirl
The longing song is from the Starchild album. It has an r&b, pop and funk beat. The lush song is about her wanting to be someone’s “lovergirl.” This is one of Marie’s biggest pop hits. She had r&b hits, but this track was her biggest pop hit. The musical arrangement is similar to something Prince would have recorded.
The music cleverly mixes r&b with pop and rock music. She’s a little outside of her wheelhouse with this track. She was known for her funk hits so this track gave her a chance to do something different. The track features the guitar, keyboard and drums. The music is off the chain. It has a classic 80s sound, but it’s still fire today. She proved she could handle more than just funk music.
The track features elements of freestyle music. Marie sounds like a maestro on the guitar. The guitar breaks aren’t to be missed. They are very impressive. Her strong vocals are masterful. She vocalizes throughout the song.
Teena Marie wants a guy to choose her as his lover, but she manages not to sound desperate for him. She belts at points in the song. She didn’t stray from her soulful roots. She sings a verse that may be hard to understand. You may have to look up the lyrics to get what she’s saying.
# 3 – Portuguese Love
The smooth song is from the album It Must Be Magic. It has an r&b sound. The sultry song is about her relationship with her man. Here is some trivia about the song. There were rumors that the song was about her relationship with Rick James. They dated while working on her albums. The song is actually about another man she was dating. It’s also a nod to her heritage.
The music opens with a Latin beat. You can hear a conga drum in the background. The rest of the music sounds like r&b and jazz. The music is sensual and seductive. It’s the perfect music to listen to when you are in a romantic mood. The music is soft and tender. Marie’s vocals shine brightly throughout the track. She starts the song softly as she describes the love she has for her man.
Her soprano vocals are a great accompaniment to sensual music. She sounds very soulful on this track. She vocally soars once she gets to the chorus. She uses vibrato in some parts of the song. She tries to turn the song into a power ballad after the bridge. Her vocals are strong and she could compete with other power divas on this track. The song is a little long because it’s almost eight minutes, but it gives you more time to listen to it.
# 2 – Ooo La La La
The romantic song is from the Naked to the World album. It has an r&b and soul sound. The soulful song is about the way her man makes her feel. The sleek and soulful jam received a resurgence when The Fugees sampled it for their hit ”Fu-Gee-La.” The music is pretty and melodic.
The song is a quiet storm staple and it’s easy to see why that is the case. The music has all of the requirements of a quiet storm song. The music is sultry and captivating. It’s also hypnotizing and will hold your attention until the end. Her voice is pure gold. She wants to be a Queen who could not be dethroned. Her voice is commanding and powerful.
She sounds like an angel. She sings in time with the music. Her vocals are heartfelt. You can tell by her voice how much she wanted the man she loved. The song sounds like it’s personal to her. She doesn’t hold back when it concerns notes.
She holds an incredible and jaw-dropping note near the end of the song. The note she holds is a showstopper. Lauryn Hill did an excellent job with her interpolation of the track, but nothing beats the original version of it. This song could have easily been number one on our list, but it came down to a toss up for the spot.
# 1 – I Need Your Lovin’
The number one song on our Top 10 Teena Marie Songs list is “I Need Your Lovin’ from the Iron in the Fire album. It has an r&b beat. The irresistible song is about her needing her man to love her. She pleads with him to be her lover. The musical arrangement is excellent. The playful song has an energetic beat. It features an infectious bassline.
The string section will leave you in a trance. The pounding piano keys are smooth and silky. The glistening harp sound gives the track a magical beat. Everything about the music work and gives you chills. They added everything but the kitchen sink to make the musical arrangement work.
This jam is guaranteed to get you on the dance floor. The chorus is engaging and will have you singing along with it. It will stick in your head long after the song is done. In fact, you might want to keep this song on repeat so you can hear it over again. Marie is in top form with this song. She takes you to church with this timeless track.
She sings her heart out with each powerful line. This track is one of the songs that prove you don’t have to be African American to sing with soul. She can compete with other soul singers for the crown. This song deserves the top spot on our list.
Top 10 Teena Marie Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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