Our Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list takes a look at one of r&b’s most popular singers and actresses. Most of Vanessa Williams’ fans know that she got her start as the first African American Miss America Beauty Pageant winner. She won the title in 1983. Unfortunately, she faced scandal weeks before the end of her reign and had to give up the title. We will get into that drama later on in her biography. She was able to bounce back from the scandal by becoming a singer and actress. Williams has several hit singles including “Dreamin’,” “The Right Stuff,” “Darlin’ I,” “Save the Best for Last,” “Comfort Zone,” “Running Back to You,” “Love Is” as well as others. She’s sold millions of albums worldwide. Like most singers, Williams decided to become an actress. She’s starred in TV shows and movies. Williams appeared on The Love Boat, T.J. Hooker Perry Mason, Partners in Crime, South Beach, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, 666 Park Avenue, Daytime Divas as well as many other TV shows. She also starred in movies such as Eraser, Soul Food, Hoodlum, Dance with Me, Light It Up, Shaft, Johnson Family Vacation as well as others. It’s time to get to know Vanessa Williams better.
Vanessa Lynn Williams was born on March 18, 1963. Williams got her start in the entertainment business when she won the Miss America Beauty Pageant. She was the first African American to win the title. As we mentioned, her reign was marred by scandal. It was revealed that Penthouse Magazine released nude pictures of the singer/actress without her permission. She was forced to denounce her title as Miss America. She could have disappeared after the humiliating scandal, but she decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Despite the scandal, she’s still one of the most famous Miss America winners. She went on to become a successful singer and actress.
Williams released her debut album The Right Stuff in 1988. The album peaked at number 18 on the r&b charts and number 38 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “The Right Stuff,” “(He’s Got) The Look,” “Dreamin’” and “Darlin’ I.” The album sold over one million copies worldwide. She was nominated for three Grammy Awards for the album. She won an NAACP Award for this project. Would she be able to maintain the success she achieved with her debut album?
The Comfort Zone was released in 1991. The album peaked at number one on the r&b charts and number 17 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album features the singles “Running Back to You,” “The Comfort Zone,” “Save the Best for Last,” “Just for Tonight” and “Work to Do.” Williams was nominated for five Grammy Awards for this album. The album sold over three million copies. She proved that she didn’t hit the sophomore slump with this album because it sold more copies than its predecessor.
The Sweetest Days was released in 1994. The album peaked at number 25 on the r&b charts and number 57 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “The Sweetest Days,” “The Way That You Love,” “Colors of the Wind,” “You Can’t Run,” “Higher Ground” and “Betcha Never.” She was nominated for two Grammy Awards for this album. The album sold over one million copies.
Williams released Next in 1997. The album peaked at number 53 on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Happiness,” “Who Were You Thinkin’ ‘Bout,” “First Thing on Your Mind” and “Oh How the Years Go By.” The album sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. Everlasting Love was released in 2005. It peaked at number 57 on the r&b charts and 159 on the Billboard 200 charts. It was a cover songs’ album. It features the singles “You Are Everything,” “Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Show and Tell,” “Everlasting Love” and “I’ll Be Good to You.” The Real Thing came out in 2009. The album peaked at number 1 on the Contemporary Jazz Album charts, number 36 on the r&b charts, and 91 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Breathless,” “Just Friends,” “Close to You” and “The Real Thing.” The album sold over 62,000 copies worldwide.
Vanessa Williams proved that you can come back after a scandal. Most people wouldn’t have been able to recover from the humiliating scandal she faced. She made it possible for other pageant winners to become successful after their reign is done. When she became a singer, she had to compete with the likes of Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Jody Watley, Mariah Carey, Pebbles, etc, but she was able to make her mark on the industry. She achieved success as a singer as well as an actress. Our Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list features some of her best songs.
#10 – Happiness
The first song on our Vanessa Williams Top 10 Songs list is “Happiness” from the Next album. It has a r&b, hip hop and soul sound. The sassy song is about her setting personal boundaries after going through setbacks. The song is about her divorce from her first husband. The song contains two samples in it. The song samples Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” and The Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” The samples she used for the song were the perfect fit for it. It gives the song a fierce sound to match her sassy attitude. She worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for this track. They are known for working with Janet Jackson as well as other artists.
The track sounds like something that Janet Jackson would have sang on her album. The melody is similar to Janet Jackson’s “Go Deep.” Jam and Lewis might have had Janet Jackson in mind when they created this song for Williams. Her harmonies sound very similar to Jackson’s on her songs. The song is a change of pace for Williams. She did more r&b and pop songs, but they weren’t in this style. She wasn’t in her wheelhouse for this song so she was in danger of being out of her “comfort zone.” Fortunately, she was right at home with this type of song. She proved she was able to compete with Janet Jackson on this track.
# 9 – Oh How the Years Go By
The next song on our Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list is “Oh How the Years Go By” from the Next album. The song has an adult contemporary sound. The inspirational song is about overcoming troubled times. The lyrics are mesmerizing and comforting. The song is perfect for people who need hope that things will get better. Different artists covered the song. The song begins with a piano solo that will make you emotional. It instantly hooks you and grabs your attention. The rest of the music is soft and soothing until it builds to a crescendo.
The music builds up to a climactic finish that will leave you breathless. Vanessa Williams’ vocals are superb. Her phrasing is fantastic. She sings every line with clarity. She takes you to heights unknown with this song. She starts the track softly and by herself. She is joined by background singers in the bridge. They bring the song home once the music builds up. It feels like you’re sitting in a chapel while they sing the song. Williams doesn’t stray too far from the other versions of the song. She didn’t hurt the song with the subtle changes she made to it. If you enjoy the other versions of the song, you will enjoy her version of it too.
# 8 – Comfort Zone
The sultry song is from the album of the same name. The title track has an r&b sound. The sexy song is about her being intimate with her lover. The mid tempo music sounds sexy and romantic. It blends r&b and jazz quite nicely. It has a 90s groove to it. The synthesizer and flute stand out the most on the track. They add to the sensuality of the music. The drumbeat gives the song a rhythmic tempo. As we said, the song has a 90s groove, but it could still be appreciated today. There are sound effects included in the music that weren’t needed, but they don’t hurt the song.
Williams’ voice is elegant on the track. She sounds warm and angelic on the song. Her tone is a perfect match with the soft music. She doesn’t have to shout to be heard. She sings the song in a passionate way. She’s singing a song about sex, but she doesn’t sound graphic. She keeps it classy and sexy at the same time. She has great timing on the track because she sings in time with the music. She takes advantage of her mezzo soprano vocals. Her voice goes up and down like an elevator. Her voice goes up when she finishes a line and she goes right back to her natural tone.
# 7 – Just for Tonight
The soulful song is from The Comfort Zone album. The song has an r&b sound. The bittersweet song is about her wanting one more night with her man even though she knows it’s over. There were rumors that this song is about her relationship with a married man. The singer didn’t confirm the rumor, but it definitely makes the lyrics sound spicier. She pours her heart out as she pleads for her man to give her one more night with him. The music sounds seductive. It’s perfect for quiet storm radio. It’s perfect bedroom music for lovemaking. The music is soulful and beautiful. It’s a pleasant combination of smooth r&b and jazz music.
The instrumentation is sensual and melodic. Williams voice sounds gorgeous while she’s pleading for her man to stay with her for one more night. There probably aren’t too many men who wouldn’t grant her request since she’s a very beautiful woman. Her vocals are smooth like butter. Her words glide easily over the music. Her phrasing is undeniably exquisite. She is singing about making love with her man and manages to have the voice of an angel. Listening to this song proves that she’s an underrated singer. She tends to be overlooked for her vocals because she’s not considered a power balladeer.
# 6 – Dreamin’
The gorgeous song is from The Right Stuff album. It has an r&b, soul and smooth jazz sound. The fantasy-driven song is about her being in love with a man, but can’t find the words to express her feelings. She hopes he’ll be in her dreams. The song is Williams’ first Top 10 hit. The song is a quiet storm staple on radio stations and it’s easy to see why that’s true. The music is magical and sensual. It mixes smooth r&b and jazz beautifully. The music is sweet and simple. It features the guitar, percussion, keyboard and saxophone. The saxophone gives the song something special.
The saxophonist does a great job with his solo. He makes the song sound even more sensual than it did. There is a musical pause that gives you a chance to be mesmerized by the beautiful music. Williams’s vocals are fire. You can easily forget that this song is on her debut album. She sounds like she’s been singing for years. Williams and the background vocalists harmonize well together. Williams took vocal risks in the song. She holds notes after the bridge. She doesn’t hold notes too much in her songs so it was nice to hear. She wanted to prove to the world she could be a balladeer like the other divas. This song is absolutely flawless.
# 5 – Betcha Never
The next song on our Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list is “Betcha Never” from The Sweetest Days album. The song has an r&b, Latin and jazz sound to it. The revenge song is about her getting even with a cheating lover by having an affair of her own. The lyrics sound very personal. It makes you wonder if the song was about her first husband. The music begins with a flamenco guitar solo that will command your attention. The keyboard and drums have the classic Babyface sound because he penned and produced the song for Williams. He came up with the perfect song for her to sing because it caters to her voice very well. The music is low and sensual to allow the listeners a chance to focus on her smooth as silk vocals.
Williams sounds pretty angry on the track, which is what she needed to sell the song. She uses the right emotion to pull it off. Williams has excellent clarity and pronunciation throughout the track. Her timing is excellent. She sings in time with every beat change. Babyface is supporting her in the background. Their voices blend well together. They have excellent chemistry with each other. The song may as well be a duet because he sings a lot of the song with her. They were a vocal marriage made in heaven. They harmonize well together. Williams does little runs after the end of the song that will impress her fans. This song should have been a bigger hit. It’s definitely and underrated track and is worth a listen.
# 4 – The Right Stuff
The energetic song is from the album of the same name. The song has an r&b, dance pop and New Jack Swing sound. The incomparable song is about her expressing her feelings for her man. She’s in love with him and no one else can take his place. She said other men try to be with her, but she only wants her man. This is the song that helped put Williams on the map. It sounds like something Jam and Lewis would have produced for Janet Jackson. The song has a Janet Jackson vibe to it. The musicians patterned the beat after Jam and Lewis’s style of music.
They are known for their pop and funk jams. The melody is similar to the songs Jam and Lewis wrote for Janet Jackson in the 80s. It also sounds similar to Jody Watley’s 80s hits. The song features a sparkly keyboard and thumping drumbeat. The music is a little dated, but still enjoyable. It’s guaranteed to have you out of your seat and on the dance floor. Williams sounds like she’s been in the game for years. Her voice sounds classy on the track. She tries her hand at rapping on this song and she manages to do a good job. She’s a much better singer than rapper, but she was able to pull it off. Her flow was in time with the music. She managed to do a little vocalizing towards the end of the song. The only flaw with the song is the needless sound effects in it. Other than that, the song is flawless.
# 3 – Love Is ft. Brian McKnight
The romantic song is from the Beverly Hills 90210 Soundtrack. The song has a pop, r&b and soul beat. The intense song is about the ups and downs of a relationship. Here is some trivia about the song. The song wasn’t initially supposed to be a duet. The writer wanted Tom Waits to sing the song as a solo project. He didn’t record it and they were given the song. It was the right decision because they made the song a classic. The song opens with pounding piano keys that will move you. The music is tender and smooth. It has a stripped down beat. It’s strange that this song was featured on a soundtrack for a show that didn’t have songs like this on it.
It’s the perfect contrast for it. Let’s get back to the music. The acoustic guitar makes the music sound seductive. The music builds up after the bridge. There’s a guitar solo that will blow you away. The solo gives the song a rock edge to it. Williams didn’t sing songs like this one so it was a nice change. The melody of the song is similar to Steve Perry’s “Foolish Heart.” Williams and McKnight sound excellent together. They both take turns holding notes in the song. There is a vocal battle going on between the two of them. They both end up winning the vocal battle because their voices are strong and powerful.
# 2 – Darlin’ I
The killer ballad is from The Right Stuff album. It has an r&b beat to it. The heartbreaking song is about her regretting what she did to her lover. She didn’t mean to make him cry. There weren’t too many songs out at the time where the female is apologizing for wrongdoing. It makes this song stand out from other songs. Male singers are the ones who apologized for what they did in the relationship. The music is soft and melodic. The tender music is great for slow dancing. It’s also great to listen to when you want to relax. It blends jazz and r&b music together to create the perfect quiet storm track. The sensual piano chords will leave you hypnotized.
The drums give the song some tempo. Williams’ vocals are superb on the track. Her voice is clear and concise. She has excellent diction so you can understand every word she says. Her pitch is flawless. She proves that she wants to be considered a power diva on this track. She belts with ease on the song. She may not have been known as a power balladeer, but she proved she could do it if she wanted to. She has it in her to turn a song into a power ballad. “Darlin’ I” is definitely a highlight on the album.
# 1 – Save the Best for Last
The number one song on our Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list is “Save the Best for Last” from The Comfort Zone album. The song has an r&b, pop and soul beat. The longing song is about her wanting to be with a single man, but she has to watch him date other people before he realizes she’s the one for him. The lyrics mirror her career. She had to put her life together after the scandal she faced while being Miss America. This song is the biggest hit of Vanessa Williams’ career. Williams’ vocals are sweet and pure. She’s in her “comfort zone” with this song. She sounds magical while she sings the passionate vocals. She pours her heart out in the song.
She gives the song a simple elegance that will put anyone in a romantic mood. She sounds exquisite and sophisticated. She can make a believer out of the most cynical people. The song was tailor made for Williams’ smooth voice. Her soulful delivery makes it impossible to hear anyone else sing the song. The song belongs to her and no one else. This is one of those songs that should never be remade because it belongs to Williams. Vanessa Williams’ phrasing is on point. This song shows you just how great of a singer Williams truly is. She is an underrated artist who deserves more credit for her outstanding vocals. We definitely “saved the best for last” when it concerned out Top 10 Vanessa Williams Songs list.