Aaliyah, Brandy, and Me'Shell Ndegéocello made their chart debuts across 1994. Great singles from shorter-lived acts Soul for Real (co-produced by Heavy D) and Subway (featuring the first appearance of 702) deserve some of the throwback airplay given to the number ones, which included Aaliyah's "Back & Forth," Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place," and TLC's "Creep." If there's one single that deserved a better commercial response, it's Shai's "The Place Where You Belong," front-loaded on the Beverly Hills Cop III soundtrack and subsequently buried near the end of the group's late-'95 album. Its moody, pared-down funk is unlike any other song from the year.

A completely subjective list of favorite songs that hit Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart during the year. Label of release and date of debut appear in brackets.

1. Brandy - "I Wanna Be Down" [Atlantic, 9/3]
2. TLC - "Creep" [LaFace, 11/12]
3. Mary J. Blige - "Be Happy" [Uptown, 11/5]
4. Aaliyah - "Back & Forth" [Blackground, 4/30]
5. Janet Jackson - "Any Time, Any Place" [Virgin, 5/28]
6. Shai - "The Place Where You Belong" [MCA, 6/4]
7. Soul for Real - "Candy Rain" [Uptown, 12/3]
8. Me'Shell Ndegéocello - "If That's Your Boyfriend" [Maverick, 2/12]
9. Zhané - "Sending My Love" [Motown, 5/7]
10. Aaliyah - "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" [Blackground, 12/24]

11. Blackstreet - "Before I Let You Go" [Interscope, 10/1]
12. Mary J. Blige - "My Life" [Uptown, 12/17]
13. Brownstone - "If You Love Me" [MJJ, 11/5]
14. Subway f/ 702 - "This Lil' Game We Play" [Biv, 12/10]
15. Aaliyah - "At Your Best (You Are Love)" [Blackground, 9/3]
16. Changing Faces - "Stroke You Up" [Big Beat, 7/23]
17. Zhané - "Groove Thang" [Motown, 1/15]
18. Mary J. Blige - "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" [Uptown, 12/31]
19. Tony! Toni! Toné! - "(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow" [Wing, 1/15]
20. Angela Winbush - "Treat U Rite" [Elektra, 2/26]

21. Eternal - "Stay" [EMI, 1/22]
22. SWV - "Anything" [RCA, 4/9]
23. Changing Faces - "Foolin' Around" [Big Beat, 11/12]
24. Brand New Heavies - "Dream On Dreamer" [Delicious Vinyl, 2/19]
25. Karyn White - "Hungah" [Warner, 9/3]
26. Jodeci - "Feenin'" [Uptown, 3/12]
27. Sweet Sable - "Old Time's Sake" [Street Life, 3/19]
28. Jade - "Every Day of the Week" [Giant, 11/26]
29. Felicia Adams - "Thinking About You" [Motown, 11/5]
30. N-Phase - "Spend the Night" [Maverick, 7/2]*

31. Keith Sweat f/ Kut Klose - "Get Up on It" [Elektra, 10/8]
32. Jade - "5-4-3-2" [Giant, 9/17]
33. Blackgirl - "Krazy" [RCA, 1/29]*
34. Janet Jackson - "Because of Love"[Virgin, 1/29]
35. Tony! Toni! Toné! - "Slow Wine (Slow Grind)" [Wing, 7/30]
36. Lalah Hathaway - "Let Me Love You" [Virgin, 6/4]
37. Xscape - "Love on My Mind" [So So Def, 4/9]
38. Eric Roberson - "The Moon" [Warner, 7/2]
39. Shanice - "Turn Down the Lights" [Motown, 8/6]
40. El DeBarge - "Can't Get Enough" [Reprise, 5/7]

*These songs are not available on Spotify in the U.S. Favorites 41 and 42 appear in their place, at the end of the playlist.