Readers of That Grape Juice know what avid music lovers we are – especially of hits past.
So, as our retrospective segments, ‘From the Vault’ and ‘TGJ Replay,’ allow us the chance to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday of one artist, our latest feature – Chart Rewind – serves as a variation of our Retro Rewind assay to salute an entire era of music history.
This week, we think it’s best to take it back to ‘At Your Best’ – the second top 10 hit of late R&B superstar Aaliyah‘s career.
This week 26-years-ago, a rising R&B songstress named Aaliyah learned her second single, ‘At Your Best (You Are Love),’ had reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The feat was impressive but not unfamiliar to the then-15-year-old who was coming off the high of watching her debut single, ‘Back & Forth,’ soar to #5 on the same tally.
Like ‘Back,’ ‘Best’ had the signature stamp of serial hitmaker R. Kelly all over it – a detail shared by many of the songs aboard her debut album, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,’ as he wrote and produced the majority of it.
**Related: Click here to read our ode to ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number’ (the album)**
In fact, the only of the 14 songs that line the LP’s tracklist that didn’t feature Kelly’s penmanship was ‘At Your Best’ – a tune originally made famous by The Isley Brothers in 1976. For the ‘Age’ album, Aaliyah’s version of ‘Best’ tonally and structurally mirrors that of the Isleys’ classic and (on this side of history) stands as the fan-preferred edition of her remake. Upon its early 90’s release as a single, however, Kelly flipped the cut into a Chicago-inspired ‘stepper’s song’ – remixing the slow jam with a synth style that better reflected the overall sway of the era at large.
The move worked as it not only hoisted the young R&B princess to her second consecutive top 10 hit but also her second Gold certified single from the Recording Industry Association of America (denoting sales of over 500,000 copies in the United States).
Its enduring popularity, alongside ‘Back’ and other tunes listed aboard ‘Age,’ boosted the album’s sales to over 3 million in the U.S. alone.
As we salute one of the late singer’s most popular ballads, look below to see who joined her in the top 25 this week in 1994:
Hot 100 This Week in 1994
Hot 100 This Week
Click here to see this week’s full ‘TGJ Chart Check: Hot 100.’