The Best You Never Heard: The Aaliyah Edition

Published: Monday 16th Jan 2012 by Rashad

Today marks what would’ve been the 33rd birthday of R&B diva Aaliyah.  Ten years may have passed since her untimely 2001 passing, yet the fallen angel is still regularly commented on in contemporary conversations and debates in popular music.  Such only echoes the ever-present regard of her influence and style.

With just three studio albums, her nearly decade long career spanned more recognizable records than many could boast in twice the time.  Even in such, there are often overlooked or unheard numbers that don’t receive the praises of “One In A Million”, ‘Back and Forth’, ‘The One I Gave My Heart To’, and more.

Thusly, we at TGJ HQ saw it only fitting to gift this ‘Best You Never Heard’ to fans and spectators in honor of the star that is Aaliyah.

Hear Miss Haughton ‘at her best’ after the jump:

Aaliyah – ‘Giving Up’

Before Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson‘s 2006 smash film ‘Dreamgirls’ moved moved onto movie screens, Pop icon Whitney Houston was set to reboot the famed 70’s musical ‘Sparkle’.  A story that shares a storyline somewhat similar to ‘Dreamgirls’, Houston thought no songstress would better encapsulate the movies theme than ‘One In A Million’ enchantress Aaliyah.  Unfortunately, Miss Haughton was never able to fulfill her duties for the role (later given to American Idol alum Jordin Sparks).  Aaliyah did, however, get to record the movie’s famous track ‘Giving Up’.  Already made famous by another musician who passed in his prime Donny Hathaway, it seems she had big shoes to fill – and fill them she did.  Lending some of her best recorded vocals to the track, fans might be shocked when they hear how well she carried the song.  Needless to say, Sparks has alot to live up to following both R&B legends.


Aaliyah – ‘No Days Go By’

While ‘No Days Go By’ never made the final tracklisting of Aaliyah’s signature ‘One In A Million’ album in 1996, it did see the light of day as a B-side for her remake of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Got To Give It Up’.  The latter itself is an oft-overlooked gem from the then 17 year old.  Unlike most of her other numbers, ‘Days’ stands as one of her few self-composition.  Get into the slick groove below:

Aaliyah – ‘All I Need’

Another unreleased gem, this song first found favor on Aaliyah’s posthumous release ‘I Care 4 U’.  While the title track of the greatest hits collection quickly became a fan favorite, cuts like ‘Don’t Worry’, ‘Erika Kane’, and this jam, were a bit more overlooked (mainly due to the popularity of the set’s first single ‘Miss You’).  The absence of Timbaland‘s blaring bass background does not take away from Aaliyah showing off that signature falsetto.  Get into ‘All’ below:

Aaliyah – ‘I Can Be’

One of her edgiest tracks, ‘I Can Be’ was found on the singer’s last studio LP ‘Aaliyah’.  As with most artists, Aaliyah explained in interviews that the choice to self title the album was due to its collection of songs being a representation of herself.  If such was truly the case, songs like ‘I Can Be’ were truly proof of her versatility and maturity.  A departure from her signature hip hop bump, the song fuses elements of electronica and rock, but still are R&B enough to compliment the singer’s soulful coos.  Hear Miss Haughton put her falsetto on a temporary hiatus while she delivers the controversial, slick lyrics below:


Aaliyah – ‘I Refuse’

Aaliyah’s third, self titled album introduced us all to a new, more mature Baby Girl who tackled previously unexplored topics of sex, adultery, violence, and more.  Lending one of her most dramatic numbers, ‘I Refuse’ tells the story of a woman scorned who has learned a lesson she refuses to repeat.  A budding actress at the time of its recording, Aaliyah delivers a believable and fiery vocal performance and simply reaffirmed why she was truly on her way to conquer the industry on every front.  Another stunning display of the songbird’s versatility, get into ‘Refuse’ below:


 ‘Heartbroken’, ‘Never Givin’ Up’, ‘It’s Whatever’, ‘Extra Smooth’, and countless more oft-overlooked gems from the songbird would fill this page if we listed them all.  These are our faves, tell us yours (and give your birthday shout-out) below!


Your thoughts?


Comments 52

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  1. BLAH January 16, 2012

    awww i love my aaliyah, shes still here with me =-( her music and her will never be forgotten R.I.P AAILYAH!

  2. Onyx January 16, 2012

    Aaliyah was a great musician who could be a great Actress and she actually could act, i love Queen of the Damned, my favorite song from her is “At You Best, You are Love”, sh was beautiful on the inside and outside.

  3. KD January 16, 2012

    Aaliyah >>>> Ciara. Let the 2 never be compared again.

  4. EXALTEDONE January 16, 2012

    Giving Up is the song. Well really all of them are. RIP Aaliyah!

  5. NAYAH82 January 16, 2012

    Thank you Sam for this post! I’m Aaliyah stan and I loved and love everything about her. She was beautiful, smart, s***, talented and mysterious. R.I.P Babygirl!

  6. NAYAH82 January 16, 2012

    Please don’t compare her to anyone…Nothing compares to you is playing in my back round right now…

  7. Kimsus January 16, 2012

    R.I.P Aaliyah

  8. MISHKA January 16, 2012

    Well, thanks to Canada Dry, I can no longer think of Aaliyah without associating him and his ugly tattoos.

    He’s such a jacka$$ for that.

  9. Troy January 16, 2012

    i love you so much ! happy birthday ADH ! 🙂

  10. B4REAL02 January 16, 2012


  11. Bird January 16, 2012

    love I Refuse! Glad u mentioned “Its Whatever”…also Loose Rap is amazing as well as Never No More

  12. nia January 16, 2012

    never compare ciara to the beautiful & talented Aaliyah again.

  13. Curtis January 16, 2012

    Nice write-up. Happy Birthday Aaliyah, beloved icon.

  14. KELIS January 16, 2012

    I REFUSE! one of my all time fave songs! (Also extra smooth)
    beautiful song, beautiful voice, beautiful person
    Happy Birthday Baby Girl! <3 WE LOVE U

  15. Musicmann January 16, 2012

    OMG, Aaliyah was SANGING her ass off On that Giving Up Track.!! I had NO idea she could sing like that, WOW. WHy didn’t she sing like that more often?

    • Brad February 1, 2016

      Well I mean Aaliyah ALWAYS came out different. We never really knew what to expect from her but always knew whatever she had coming was gonna be really really good!so maybe she was gonna safe the best for last. Maybe she was going to make more of those kinda songs with strong vocals as she was getting older….like the whitney type of songs. she even said in 1 of her interviews that maybe she will also rap in future. #ripbabygirl#missu#4everteamaaliyah!

  16. Chet January 16, 2012

    Happy birthday Aaliyah! It still boggles my mind how some people called her a “weak” singer and put her in the same lane as Ciara and Rihanna. B**** PLEASE. Listen to “Givin’ Up” and tell me otherwise. SMH

  17. JP January 16, 2012

    Before expanding this post, I had two songs immediately in mind.

    I Can Be
    All I Need

    Glad TGJ highlighted these two great tracks. RIP Aaliyah.

  18. THE REAL TYLER January 16, 2012

    I’m soooooo over her, her only good album was “ONE IN A MILLION” and after “Try Again” she fell off her last album had a handful of good songs on there after that everything else was filler!

    But I think she would be dope if she was still here!

  19. Chanel January 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday Aaliyah, you are truly missed!!!

  20. Teflon Boy January 16, 2012

    Aaliyah was the Truth…, it’s so easy for female acts to fall into either the ‘can’t sing but dances, looks hot and has catchy music’ category or the ‘can sang but just stands there and has boring music’…., Aaliyah was rare in that she had a gorgeous voice and of course was stunning, but could also blow when required, dance her b*** off and had both edgy interesting music that also had a rare depth…., such a unique talent and beauty and to this day still so difficult to replicate as her range and skill was so wide in breadth but always so definably hers. RIP sweetheart xx

  21. richard January 16, 2012

    I thought she was a weaker singer Way way back when, compared to Brandy and Monica, but that changed when she performed on the oscars singing Journey to the Past. The way she was belting and owning that song, was just wow to me. If anybody ever doubts her singing ability should look at this. She was nervous in the beginning (it WAS the Oscars after all) But that went away quickly…

  22. Jayla January 16, 2012

    “Never No More” & “I Don’t Wanna” are my faves

  23. Army Of Queen Aaliyah January 16, 2012

    Queen /.\ The Queen Of Urban Pop Happy Birthday ! This Post Is For The Haters That Say The Queen Couldn’t Sing ! I Wish Her Team Would Have Pushed Her Voice Further Because She Would Have SLAYED ! Also I Wish She Had Some Opera Training To Help Her Belts And Even Reach Higher FALSETTOS And Even Whistle Register !

    P.S. Please Don’t Compare Ciara To The Queen Because Their Is Simply NO Competition 😉 You DEAL !

  24. riri January 16, 2012

    If she was still alive, i dont think current singers or artists would be here today!

    There would be no beyonce (as solo artists) and no rihanna!

    loved her!

  25. Cierra January 16, 2012

    Love this post . her voice will never be forgotten .

  26. irene46 January 16, 2012

    aaliyah brought it all with her version of ‘givin up’. i’ve never heard donny hathaway’s version and i also heard gladys knight sang it many moons ago.

  27. Chillin January 16, 2012

    @richard ..ALSO she was the yongest performer ever at the Oscars!!

  28. Pucci January 16, 2012

    These are def some of my favorites from her. “I Refuse” blows me away everytime I hear it.

  29. RNB Fan January 16, 2012

    Man Undercover is her best track IMO. And her 1st albums slays!

  30. CJ January 16, 2012

    I don’t know where to begin…I love Aaliyah. The TRUE QUEEN of HIP HOP and R&B… here are just a few. I miss and love you “baby girl”. Check these songs out and enjoy… here is true talent where she excelled in her genre making lanes and over coming obstacles. A true Hip Hop and R&B artist.
    -Never Comin’ Back
    -Journey to the Past
    -I’m So Into You
    -Street Thing
    -Old School
    -I’m Down
    -Young Nation
    -Don’t Worry
    -Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
    -I Gotcha Back
    -Never Givin’ Up
    -I Don’t Wanna
    -Messed Up
    -Live and Die for Hip Hop Aaliyah is featured on this Kriss Kross song her adlibs are everything on this song.

  31. Mr.Geezy January 16, 2012

    Aaliyah had a style all her own, on top of that she was a ginunely sweet person who was adored by many in the industry and fans alike. RIP Aaliyah your spirit lives on.

  32. Bey Fan… January 16, 2012

    I never thought Aaliyah was strong vocally….but she was such a talented dancer. A great personality. And the potential she show leads me to believe that we had not seen the best of babygirl…..

    Happy Bday…..RIP

  33. lyric commander lee January 16, 2012

    a true angel – her first album – pure classic – “street thing” is my absolute fav song from that album – i loved her 3rd album as well – “what if” is my shyt as well as “its whatever” and “i refuse” – looove all of her music – a true angel!

  34. Jose G January 16, 2012

    fukk that fat b**** Beyonce she will mever be on Aaliyahs league

  35. BOOGIE BEEESH January 16, 2012


  36. YES MA’AM B****! January 16, 2012

    Aaliyah could SANG her ass off her version of Giving Up>>>>>>>>>>>>
    she has great range, her ability to sing so low and then high is simply mind mazing!

  37. 100% REAL January 17, 2012

    Aaliyah is one of my favorite singers and dancer. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since her passing. Time flies! I still listen to her music. I love her personality. She was always smiling, laughing ad just having an all around good time. You will always be missed, Baby Girl. R.I.P., Aaliyah.

  38. swagg January 17, 2012

    wow its been so long happy bday babygirl…never giving up is one of my all time fav tracks..but y’all cant forget those where the days off the third album! and Ladies in the house from the second!…all 3 are very hot tracks…rib baby girl still bumps yo jams and watches ya videos angel

  39. BELLALYN January 17, 2012


  40. JUSTbeinHONEST January 18, 2012

    Ive heard i refuse i love that song along with everything she made each some i can relate to or just unwind to R.I.P Aaliyah R&b just isnt the same without you !!!

  41. ASAP (As Sincere As Possible) January 18, 2012

    Aaliyah is AMAZING! Her music was so fresh and unique, it’s timeless, even the album tracks!! My fave Aaliyah album track is ‘What If’ from her 3rd album…gem!

    I miss her, I’m sure many people do. May her soul rest in peace…

  42. Aaron Wycklendt February 11, 2012

    I miss Aaliyah and now Whitney. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Even the most Beautiful, Talent, Remarkable Angels of our time period. Cherish every amazing moment. I miss you Aaliyah. <3

  43. The Unknown August 29, 2016

    Listening to “Givin Up” right now…I could see her in Sparkle listening to it…like the different scenes where sister is fighting with her boyfriend and eventually killing him…so glad that I found the sound and downloaded it, miss you Baby Girl… Hope to hear/find other unrealsed songs from her soon!

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