Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

“Love on Top,” and Other Contemporary Classics (Yes. I just called “Love on Top” a classic. Deal with it.)

Along with coming up with reasons — any reason — to stay in the house (ie: “I’m good with the club tonight, man. Need to watch The “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” marathon later on“), and going to hoop and spending more time warming up and stretching than you actually do playing, one of the strangest parts of getting old(er) is the mind-blowing experience of remembering something like it just happened yesterday, checking to see when it really did happen, and learning that it actually happened like 2000 yesterdays ago.

For instance, do you realize that Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” was released 13 years ago? And, “No, No, No” was released 14 years ago? I mean, I remember those videos and listening to those songs on the radio. I remember the debates we’d have in the cafeteria about whether Destiny’s Child was the first girl group where each member was a dime (The verdict? No. That title belongs to En Vogue) and if it was even cool to argue about stuff like that because we didn’t know if each member was technically legal yet. (Remember, this occurred before Huny invented the internet. Couldn’t exactly go to Wiki and read a lie about Beyonce’s exact age). I even remember how both of the women I was seeing at the time would listen to “Say My Name” whenever they took showers. (Apparently, even a college-aged Champ was already into emo Black girls)

Anyway, I’m bringing this all up because the fact that “Say My Name” was released 13 years old kind of puts a hole in the “Beyonce’s music aint going to be relevant 20 years from now” argument. It’s still a song people know and (occasionally) listen to, and it’s not too far-fetched to think that they still will seven years from now. And, while most (myself included) don’t necessarily think of the Thundergoat as being an artist who has produced “classic” material, her prolificness and the fact that she’s headed towards a two decades-long reign at the top of the charts ensures that she definitely has. 30 years from now, people still will be listening to Beyonce’s music at birthday parties, baby showers, and cabarets. Deal with it.

And, while we’re here, you know what else we have to come to terms with? The fact — not opinion. fact — that “Love on Top” may have the most staying power of any R&B song released in the last 10 years.

Seriously, I’ve been going out to clubs, parties, and bars now for 15 years. In that time, I have never seen a contemporary song make every woman in the club react the way they do when “Love on Top” comes on. Aside from a leaked nude pic of Idris Elba, there is no other object that can make Black women more collectively f*cking happy.

It’s not just the women either. Usually, when a popular R&B track from a female artist plays in the club, the guys either head to the bar or try to play it cool even though they know they’d bob their heads and mouth the words if they were listening to it in the car. “Love on Top” inspires no such pretense. I’ve seen it make guys — guys so thug they’d make Beanie Sigel look like Miguel — bounce in their seats while shamelessly attempting to hit each one of Beyonce’s keys. Everyone responds to this shit. Everyone. And, the song’s relentlessly infectious happinessit practically shanks you in the gut with its “You will f*cking smile while listening to this song” sentiment — makes almost certain this will be a song we’re still listening to when we finally put a Chick-fil-A on Mars.

Now, as you may have realized, I’m definitely not one of those people who steadfastly believes that the current era has produced absolutely nothing that will stand the test of time. I think there have been numerous recent movies, songs, albums, TV shows, and even individual sports seasons that could and should be deemed “classics.”

You already know that I believe “Love on Top” will reach this status. I’m curious, though. People of VSB.com, can you think of anything else created in the 21st century that you feel should be deemed a classic? Any current songs that you’ll be listening to at your retirement party? Any shows that will be talked about for decades the way “All in The Family” has been? Any contemporary movies that’ll make Roger Ebert’s “Best Ever” list in 30 years? Any current sports stars that will definitely be remembered as an all-time great?

The floor is yours.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • (~_~) I love that song!

  • bhillboy

    “Irreplaceable”- Classic-even though I hate the premise.
    “Single Ladies”-Classic
    “Independent Women”-Classic
    Plus at least a dozen bangers that will fill any dance floor at any time.
    I am not a Beyonce fan. I’m a rap fan. But to deny Beyonce has staying power is ridiculous.
    Cue the “over smart”, “I just prefer ‘artists’ ” HATERS.

    • ” But to deny Beyonce has staying power is ridiculous.”

      I don’t understand why people won’t give the girl her due. And it goes beyond not liking her music. People out here can’t stand HER period and don’t even know why.

    • Britt

      Yes most def Independent women and single ladies…they are power strong songs for women.

    • b sweet

      You hate the premise bihillboy? thought irreplaceable was your motto!!

      • bhillboy

        To women not from women. Haha!

        • YeahSo

          Dats dat hater sh*t

          • bhillboy

            Hate women getting over? Yes. Love men getting over? Yes again. LOL

    • Beautifullyhuman

      “But to deny Beyonce has staying power is ridiculous.”

      I was saying this on these very boards two days ago.

  • pe.riche.

    I really hope “Love on Top” doesn’t become a classic. Classics usually pave the way for future artists because they try to mimick the previous generation. And in the case if imitating Beyonce (in regards to her more recent material), we need less screaming/yelling and more singing.

    In terms of 21st century classics, I think Alicia Keys’ “Fallin'” and/or “If I Ain’t Got You” should be on the list. Couldn’t go anywhere without hearing those songs when they hit.

    • Ain’t too sure about Alicia Keys. She’s had huge hits, but none of her songs have that thing that screams “modern day classic”.

      • DeAngelus

        But Alicia Keys…who plays piano…sings off key. AND yells…

        • And the church said “Amen”.

      • Which is odd, considering Alicia plays the piano. Most keyboard players can actually sing on key since all they hear is note all day long.

        I’ve never understood that…..

        • I’m still trying to understand that one myself. Other female piano players like Patrice Rushen, Angela Winbush and Valerie Simpson can sing their butts off, but Alicia struggles very often hitting certain notes.

          • Let’s not forget Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, and Norah Jones. Seem to always find their note…..

            But all the vocal doors in Alicia’s life must remain locked, but because she can never seem to find the right key…..

            • Kaybreezy

              I see you quoting G2BR!

  • The songs Get Low and Some Cut are classics….Get Low turns 10 in February and Some Cut will turn 10 soon after that. Current song that I know I will be listening to later in my life: Blessed by Schoolboy Q and K.Dot and Bad Religion by Frank Ocean.
    Sports stars that will be Hall of famers: LBJ, KD, Ray Lewis

    • Jay

      Every song I’ve heard via Pandora on the new Frank Ocean joint is dope.

      • Sweet GA Brown

        Yeah….except for the fact that the Frank Ocean station played “She Ratchet” which left me second guessing myself and Pandora for even allowing that youtube hit enter Pandora airwaves.

    • Datalore

      Some Cut was my ringtone for ages. I still turn it up when it randomly comes on iTunes.

    • Get Low is a classic strip club anthem!

    • Dom

      Some Cut was the first song I thought of after reading this post at like, 1am. That song is most def a classic! I can already picture my 65 year old self turning down the music when I go pic up my grandkids from school! LOL

  • bhillboy

    This is the same argument that I have with people who hate Lil’ Wayne-
    I am not a big Wayne fan but he’s been out since 1997. He has mass quotables. He has huge albums. He steals the scene in every song he’s on and he’ been around for 15 years. Your favorite rapper hasn’t been around for 15 years and if he has, he’s not selling out Arena tours. He’s doing club gigs and rapping to half filled rooms full of college aged white kids.
    Wayne has staying power.

    • “Your favorite rapper hasn’t been around for 15 years and if he has, he’s not selling out Arena tours. He’s doing club gigs and rapping to half filled rooms full of college aged white kids.”

      Shawn Corey Carter would like to have a word with you…

      • what PA said…

      • Word. What amazes me about the Jiggaman is that he’s managed to evolve with the times without sounding trendy or without really changing his style much. Even Busta Rhymes (who believe it or not is pushing 25 years) sounds a LOT different now than when he came out. He’s still hot, just not the same dude. The Jiggaman has been pushing his D-boy flow and keeping current with the same flow since 1995. Wow…

        • bhillboy37

          There are obvious exceptions to the rule but the exceptions make the rule. The same people that think Wayne is overrated, don’t like Jay Z, Busta, Snoop, or Cube. I’m talking about the people that name some obscure rapper who you’ve barely heard of and that nobody that you know likes.

          • “The same people that think Wayne is overrated, don’t like Jay Z, Busta, Snoop, or Cube”

            Wrong! I think Lil’ Wayne is overrated and have the entire discographies of Jay, Busta, Snoop and Cube!

            • bhillboy

              Women on this site seem to have a problem with generalizations. Maybe you hate wayne and love the others but there are a group of rap of fans that don’t include you that hate all of them and think MF Doom and Cunninglinguist are the best rappers ever to grace a microphone. This particular example may not include you but if you get enough people talking about a generalization it will not include someone at some point and time.

            • Sagey Bear

              I too think Lil Wayne is the trashiest garbagey refuse of rappers and single handedly misled millions of rap connoisseurs with his interspersed bars of nonsensical half rhyming.
              I too own every album from Cube, Jay, Busta, Ghostface, Tupac, Rakim, Eminem & Nas. If I don’t know or understand rap, then I doubt it is possible for anybody else to understand rap.

              Beyond my preference, there is a reverence for talented production, well placed & well timed lyricism. What I am saying is, the classics from this last decade were mostly slept on– but here is the big breaking news interruption: as usual.

              • A Woman’s Eyes

                *ditty bops* That smile is back! :)

        • bhillboy

          There are obvious exceptions to the rule but the exceptions make the rule. The same people that don’t like Wayne are the same ones that don’t like Jay, Busta, Snoop, and Cube. I’m talking about the people that name some obscure rapper who you’ve barely heard of and nobody that you know likes.

    • Mine has….

  • Brittany

    Newcomer here! Not sure what audience this site caters too…but so far I love it! Recent college grad here ;)

    Anywho, I liked the song when it first came out, but now I turn the station as soon as it comes on. I most def feel that “Party Rock” is a song that will be played at my retirement party!

    As for tv shows, there are no good “family” shows anymore…everything is reality.

    • “Party Rock” is the modern day “Cha Cha Slide.” The song isn’t made for those with weakass knees like moi but when drunk its the best song on the planet.

      • LMFAO’s albums are signs of wise investment. It might not be Rakim, but I’ll likely hear them at my daughter’s wedding.

    • eazy253

      Reed Between The Lines

      • Britt

        Never got into that show. Very boring script.

    • bhillboy

      Where are the people who throw *VSB Glitter* to newcomers? Summon the glitter bearers- Clap Clap.

      • LeonieUK

        * Glitter to the new commer from the UK shores* may you be stalking the site to be first at obscene times of the night/morning from now on…

        • Britt

          Thanx for the luv…**proudly dances in glitter **

  • Andre 3000 – Hey Ya!

    Personal songs played at my retirement will just be Madlib and Jay Dee.

    I don’t really watch all that much television so I can’t say which ones will have staying power outside the obvious choice. I really love Parenthood, Treme, and Generation Kill. Then there’s a bunch of cartoons like Samurai Jack, Symbionic Titan, Adventure Time, and Regular Show.

    These are the recent movies that have broken me.
    Hong Sang-soo’s Woman is the Future of Man
    Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako
    Lee Chang-dong’s Oasis
    Peter Watkin’s La Commune (Paris, 1871)
    Richard Linklater’s Waking Life

    • b sweet

      I love Treme. Since critical acclaim and popular appeal seem to be mutually exclusive concepts when it comes to entertainment and art, I wonder if that series falls into the former category.
      I adore your taste in movies. Tell me about where you live for movies came from.

      • Well, I live in NYC so every movie comes here. :D But, I saw all of those thanks to my library excluding Waking Life which I’ve caught on TV and online multiple times.

        If you mean where the directors come from Hong Sang-soo and Lee Chang-dong are South Korean, Richard Linklater is American, Peter Watkins is British, and Abderrahmane Sissako has duel homelands of Mali and Mauritania.

        • b sweet


          • My initial interest in East Asian martial arts like China (Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movies) and Japan (Samurai flicks which started with Akira Kurosawa and IFC’s Samurai Saturdays) eventually made me search for films that merged any and every other interest I had to celluloid.

        • bhillboy

          You live in New York. I now understand 95% of your posts.

          • What does THAT mean? I’m a proud NYer too.

            • It means he probably hates New York rap, LOL!

              • Hating New York rap is like hating soul food from the South: you’re missing the point of it all if you do.

                • bhillboy

                  Whenever somebody makes an obscure/ foreign pop culture reference and say it in a way to suggest that it isn’t obscure as a mf’er- 90% of the time they are from New York. It’s only a slight dig at New York and it’s residents but can be looked at very positively. On the second not. I was a fan of New York rap. Not so much now because much of it is terrible and the other 20% sounds like down south rap.

                  • Malik is obscure. And that’s why we love him.

                    • bhillboy

                      I don’t dislike his posts. I just understand them now.

                  • Rewind

                    I wanted to be offended. And then I realized it was the turth. But I’m from Brooklyn so we just feel like reacting ot everything to begin with.

    • +1 for Samurai Jack
      I am in the process of buying the DVD set of my brother just so I can watch it too.

    • Treme is such a good show but I think the pace turns a lot of people off. I’m a bit of a George Pelecanos fan so I really pay attention to his episodes.

  • Jay-Z/Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

    • Pretty much. No matter where I am one the globe when this song plays everyone joins in the crooning “Neeeew Yoooooooooork…” Not to mention my friends on the West Coast give it a pass.

      • Though my favorite “New York” song is “Right Here” by Pharaohe Monch. If you know the hook, you can probably guess why. If I run for President, this will be my entrance music. That’s how much I love that song.

        • You’ll get my vote alone just for that- and if you get elected, make your election theme song “Desire”.

    • I agree with this one- even if I think Alicia Keys is a clown.

      • Chanelle

        lmao at you PA

      • BeautifullyHuman

        Be quiet PA…lol. A. Keys is not a clown.

      • I agree. Shes ironic but she doesn’t know it.

      • Stephy

        @PA – why do you think she is a clown?

    • Agreed. When the NY State government starts using it in commercials to promote businesses expanding in state, I think you’ve become part of The Man.

    • She Who Reads

      I love the song; however, I can’t get this rendition of the lyrics out of my head:

      “Neeeeeewwwww Yoooooooooooork:
      Concrete jungle, wet dream, tomato,
      There’s muffins and canned stew.”

      • miss t-lee

        LMFAO at this rendition.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        hahahahahahahahhaha is that the homeless version?

    • Val

      I like the version without Joe Camel.

  • joy

    Oh, I REALLY love that song. You can feel her feelin’ her man. I thought about this song when I watch the rerun of The Temptations movie or The Jacksons movie on Vh1. WHich comes on every other week just about. LOL. This is one of those Holland-Dozier-Holland type cuts.

    • “This is one of those Holland-Dozier-Holland type cuts.”

      Hol’ up hol’ up…whoa there *in Big Sean’s voice*.

      • Yeah, that’s asking a lot. Those people were a fine-tuned machine. The music business today prevents those kind of groups from developing…and for good reason.

  • C.W.

    Single Ladies. It will be played at weddings for the bouquet toss for years to come. Confessions (album), Crazy in Love, Speakerboxx/The Love Below.

    • Beautifullyhuman

      Damn, we have practically the same list and I didn’t even read your comment before I wrote it. Crazy.

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      Speakerboxx/The Love Below is my jam!

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