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Hits & Unreleased: The Ultimate Collection - Aaliyah

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Genre: R&B & Soul / Artist: Aaliyah / Released: 2002

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      20.03.2009 12:31
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      A must have for any R&B fan

      Aaliyah Dana Haughton born 16th January 1979 in Brooklyn, New York was an R&B singer/ Songwriter & Actress. She first came to fame in 1994 at the age of 15 with her smash hit Back & Forth, her debut album was produced by R&B superstar R Kelly, another big influence on Aaliyah's career was rap superstar Missy Elliot & 'everything I touch turns to gold' Timbaland!

      Since her debut Aaliyah released two more albums, in 1996 came 'One In A Million' & 2001 brought us 'Aaliyah'. Her second album is when she started working with a, then relatively unknown person named Timbaland. One In A Million to date has sold 11 million copies worldwide.

      On 25th August 2001 while on a journey back from the Bahamas, Aaliyah's plane crashed killing 9 people including herself, the crash is thought to have been caused by too much weight on the plane. Aaliyah had just finished shooting the video for her next single 'Rock The Boat'. It's been said that even if Aaliyah had have survived, recovery would have been almost impossible due to the severity of her injuries. Her funeral was held 31st August 2001 in Manhattan, New York.

      Hits & Unreleased: The Ultimate Collection, is a compilation album released in 2002 featuring all of Aaliyah's biggest hits. It includes 18 tracks & two bonus songs.

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      Track List

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      1) Back & Forth (3.51)

      This was Aaliyah's debut single & went Gold which was a big achievement for a debut single from an unknown artist. On release, Aaliyah was just 15 years old. The single spent three weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B songs. The song peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 which again is a big achievement. The song also reached number 16 in the UK singles chart with little to no exposure here.

      Back & Forth is a perfect example of old school R&B. It's a brilliant debut single, a simple song with a simple but catchy chorus, it's not her most well-known song but it's a great R&B track that put her on the map. This song is a perfect chill out song, a lot of her other songs were more up-tempo & this song just goes to show her versatility.

      ****4/5****

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      2) At Your Best ( You Are Love) (4.43)

      This was Aaliyah's second single, it ended up surpassing her debut single Back & Forth as it managed to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 whereas her debut only got to number 5. At Your Best also made it to number 2 on the US Billboard Hot R&B singles. The single was quite disappointing in the UK only managing to reach number 27 over here.

      At Your Best is actually my least favourite track of Aaliyah's, I just can't find anything to good to say about it. I really can't see anything catchy about it at all & it baffles me that this managed to reach number one in America. This song was originally released in 1976 by The Isley Brothers. I personally think it was a big mistake for her to release this album, the only positive I have about this song is that her voice sounds incredible on it, that to me is the only thing that rescues this song. Not one I would recommend.

      **2/5**

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      3) Age Ain't Nothing But A Number (4.13)

      This was the third single released from Aaliyah's debut album, this song in comparison with her first two singles was a big disappointment for her, it peaked at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100 & 32 in the UK Singles Chart. The video for this song contains a cameo from Proof of D12 who, since has also passed away.

      This personally one of my favourite Aaliyah songs, it's one I put on quite a lot when I just want to relax. It's another laid back song but in my opinion this song far surpasses her first single Back & Forth & without doubt surpasses her second single At Your Best. I like the intro when you only hear a piano as this isn't the kind of intro you generally hear on R&B tracks which is something that makes Aaliyah stand out from the crowd. This song is about her wanting to go out with an older man and her explaining that age is just a number. A lot of people have said that this song relates to her relationship with R Kelly as he was 12 years older than her, the two reportedly married when she was just 16, making him 28!

      *****5/5*****

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      4) Are You Ready (3.46)

      Are You Ready was written solely as a soundtrack for the 1996 film Sunset Park. A video was never released and the song was never eligible for the Billboard Hot 100 due to the fact that it was never released as a single. However the song did make it to number 42 on the Billboard Hot R&B/ Hip Hop Airplay Chart.

      This is probably one of Aaliyah's least recognisable songs as it was never released as single. To be honest I think that it was a good thing this wasn't released as a single as I think it's a pretty mediocre R&B track. It's another slow one from her but it doesn't seem to have the substance that 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number' or 'Back & Forth' had. There's nothing that stands out about it, it's instantly forgettable and definitely not one of her best songs.

      *1/5*

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      5) If Your Girl Only Knew (3.47)

      If Your Girl Only Knew was the first single from Aaliyah's second album 'One In A Million'. Aaliyah referred to this song as her version of Patti LaBelle's song 'If You Only Knew'. The song was written by the unfaultable team of Missy Elliot & Timbaland who were both close personal friends of Aaliyah. The song reached number 11. It also reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B singles where it stayed for 2 weeks. The song reached number 21 in the UK. If Your Girl Only Knew was re-released in 1998 as double A-Side single along with One In A Million, it then managed to reach number 15 in the UK

      This is another one of my favourite Aaliyah songs & probably the one that I listen to the most often. It's go a really unique sound to it which makes it instantly recognisable. It's one of those songs that you may not like on the first listen but it rapidly grows on you & will stick in your head for a very long time. This is a song that I find singing in my head on occasions when I haven't even been listening to it previously. This song is about a man who's in a relationship who keeps giving excuses to his girlfriend so he can spend time with Aaliyah. This is another brilliant R&B track from Aaliyah that has definitely stood the test of time as it's something that I still see being played on the music channels even to this day.

      *****5/5*****

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      6) One In A Million (4.30)

      One In A Million was, in some countries including the UK the second single released from Aaliyah's second album but in others it was the third after 'Got To Give It Up'. This is another song written by the superstar team consisting of Timbaland & Missy Elliot, I think for Missy Elliot especially this really shows off her talents as this song is so far from the type of music that she releases. This song reached number 15 in the UK & number one in the US where it stayed for 6 weeks. One In A Million was her biggest hit to date as it far surpassed anything she had released before.

      When I first heard this song I disliked it immensely & I almost refused to give this song the chance that it deserves. I used to skip this whenever it came on, whether it be on the TV or on her album, I had immediately put it in the imaginary 'rubbish' pile & I'm glad I didn't keep it there. I think I actually listened to this song by accident one day & because I had hardly listened to it before I didn't know what it was. When given a chance this song is really catchy. This song is miles better than her last love song 'At Your Best' this is also the title track of her album. This is a really understated song & can be easily overlooked as another slow R&B track that has nothing to it but this song deserves a chance as it's an immensely catchy song with great background music and brilliant lyrics.

      ****4/5****

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      7) 4 Page Letter (4.09)

      This song is yet another song written and produced by Timbaland & Missy Elliot but as some people say 'if it aint broke don't fix it' this is a perfect example of that. Timbaland produced this & Missy Elliot provided Aaliyah with backing vocals. 4 Page Letter was the third single to be released from her One In A Million album, the single was a bit of a failure on all accounts. It at 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay Chart, however it managed to make it to number 12 on the Hot R&B Airplay Chart.

      This song is very similar to the previous song, it's a slow paced R&B track. There's nothing that really stands out about this song & it does eventually become very repetitive however there's something that I really love about this song. I think it may be because it's so underrated & was instantly cast off as a rip-off of the success of One In A Million. I disagree with people who say that though, I think this is a catchy R&B love song, maybe not as catchy as the previous song but that was so successful that it would be hard to mimic it. This song doesn't really stand out and I'm sure a lot of people will immediately class this as boring but if you give this song a chance it really gets in your head. I think the lyrics are brilliant too, it's about her being too shy to tell a guy that she likes him so she decides to send him a letter... consisting of 4 pages believe it or not!

      ***3/5***

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      8) Hot Like Fire (4.23)

      Hot Like Fire was the forth release from One In A Million and in my opinion one of the best. It peaked at number 30 in the UK Singles Chart. This of course is written by Missy Elliot & Timbaland & they both feature on the song. The song was considered a bit of a flop in the US as it wasn't picked up by many radio stations at the time. The video features cameos from Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Lil Kim, Changing Faces & Junior Mafia.

      This is one of my favourite songs on the album, it's a mid tempo R&B song that I'm sure will be overlooked a lot but this is a song that deserves more recognition than it got back when it was released. If you give this song a chance I guarantee that it will grow on you as I didn't particularly like it when I first heard it but after a couple of listens it grew on me significantly and I really liked it & still do now. This song actually carries a subtle but strong message, it's about waiting to have sex until you're 100% sure.

      ****4/5****

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      9) The One I Gave My Heart To (4.12)

      This song went to number one in a staggering 20 countries, however in her home country America it only peaked at number 9, something I personally don't understand but who am I to disagree! This was released as a double A-Side with Hot Like Fire.

      This is my favourite song off her One In A Million album. It's also the most relatable, I know that a lot of girls (and boys) will be able to relate to this song. It's about a relationship that's ended because the other person has mistreated you, she's basically saying that she doesn't understand that someone she considered to be 'the one' for her could treat her like that. This is by far one of the strongest songs on this compilation album, it may not be the most upbeat or the most catchy but the lyrics are sublime & I'd recommend you give this song a listen & don't let the fact that it's a slow paced song put you off. This is Aaliyah at her best, her voice sounds amazing on this song.

      *****5/5*****

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      10) Death Of A Playa (4.58)

      This is a song that was released as a B-Side on a couple of occasions, it charted but that was only because it was released with songs like 'The One I gave My Heart To' if it wasn't then I can't see this song going very far at all. This song features Aaliyah's Brother Rashad & was also written by the two siblings.

      This is the weakest song on this compilation and I don't think that this should have been released at all, whether it be as a B-Side or as a fully fledged single. This is another slow paced R&B song that really does nothing for Aaliyah, I think this song doesn't really do Aaliyah's voice justice, or her Brother's for that matter, he doesn't sound very good on this song & I'm not sure if that's just his voice or if it's the song that makes him sound worse than he is. Either way this isn't a song I would recommend.

      **2/5**

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      11) Are You That Somebody? (4.25)

      This song was written and composed by Static Major and Timbaland. The song was ranked number 18 by Spin Magazine of the top songs of the 90's. The song was also 3rd most played on TRL in 1998. Are You That Somebody reached number one in both the Hot 100 Airplay Chart and the Hot R&B Airplay Chart.

      This song simply has Timbaland written all over it, not only because he's featured highly in it but because this is something that sounds really similar to a lot of his other tracks from around this time. This is a really top class R&B song & Timbaland does a brilliant job with this. This was also used as the soundtrack for Doctor Dolittle. This is a really catchy tune that will have you hooked immediately & is something that you will struggle immensely to get out of your head for hours! This is definitely one of the stronger songs on this album.

      ****5/5****

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      12) I Don't Wanna (4.15)

      I Don't Wanna was released in January 2000 as a double A-Side with Come Back In One Piece. It reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song featured on the Next Friday & Romeo Must Die Soundtrack.

      This song is instantly catchy, it's one that can get repetitive after listening to it quite a few times but it's got a really catchy chorus that sticks in your head for a long time. I do feel that Come Back In One Piece is a stronger song than this but that's not taking anything away from the quality of this song. It's a great mid-tempo R&B track that deserves more recognition than it got.

      ***3/5***

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      13) Try Again (4.04)

      This is without doubt Aaliyah's biggest hit, it was nominated for a Grammy back in February 2001. This song is the main soundtrack for the film Romeo Must Die in which she starred. The song was written by Static Major & Timbaland, who also produced it. This was the first song to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on the strength of it's radio airplay. The song eventually reached number one in 25 countries. It peaked at number 5 in the UK & it stayed in the top 75 for 29 weeks.

      This is my favourite Aaliyah track of all time & this was one of the songs that got me into her music in the first place as I was only about 12 when this was released. When it came out I was utterly obsessed with it & this was one of the songs that really got me into R&B music in general as up until then I had been into pop music like the Spice Girls & that kind of thing. This song is instantly catchy, from Timbaland's intro right through to the end. The lyrics are brilliant and carry a really strong message about not giving up on things & the video is equally brilliant. I don't have a bad word to say about this song.

      *****5/5*****

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      14) Come Back In One Piece (4.18)

      This song features US rapper DMX, it wasn't a top 40 in the US and wasn't really a big hit for either of them. It peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot R&B songs. The video was shot in Yonkers, New York & it depicts life in the 'Hood'.

      This is another one of my favourite Aaliyah tracks & also the one that has the most Hip Hop influence in it. I think DMX is perfect in this song & his strong, deep voice blends really well with the strong beat that this song carries. I don't understand why this wasn't a big hot for them as I think it's an amazing collaboration. This is a really catchy R&B/ hip hop song that shouldn't be overlooked.

      *****5/5*****

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      15) Are You Feeling Me (3.14)

      I can't give you any chart information on this song as there isn't any! I don't think this was really hit for Aaliyah, I think the unprecedented success of her song 'Try Again' almost overshadowed her post releases.

      Despite not being much of a hit I think this is a good up-tempo R&B song and shows off her talents to do up-tempo & slow songs as well as everything in between. This isn't a song that really stretches her vocal capabilities however it is a catchy tune that of course has that Timbaland influence on it. This isn't her best but one that deserves a chance as you may actually like it.

      ***3/5***

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      16) We Need A Resolution (4.02)

      This song was the lead single to Aaliyah's last album 'Aaliyah' it was released in April 2001 only 4 months before Aaliyah's tragic & untimely death. The song, surprisingly wasn't a big success although it did reach the top 20 in the UK Singles Chart. It didn't manage to reach the top 40 in America.

      With exception of 'Try Again' this is my favourite Aaliyah song. It's completely unique, it's got a really recognisable beat to it. Her voice blends perfectly with the music & this creates a brilliantly catchy R&B song that you can't get away from. This song deserved to do well when it was released and I was utterly shocked when it didn't. However, having said that I don't think that everyone will get this song, it's really different from a lot of her other songs & really breaks the mould which of course some people aren't going to like. You really need to listen to this to make up your own mind on it.

      *****5/5*****

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      17) Rock The Boat (4.33)

      Rock The Boat was nominated for best female vocal performance at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. It was released as the albums second single in 2001. After flying home from recording this video Aaliyah's plane crashed & she was tragically killed. This was the last single to be released before her death as the single was released before the video was. The song peaked at number 2 in the UK, it's lowest position in the charts all over the world was number 7 so this song was a huge hit for Aaliyah.

      This personally isn't one of my favourite Aaliyah songs. I feel that this is a classic example of when a video is better than the song & of course it should always be the other way around otherwise you're going to get nowhere. I was surprised that this was such a bit hit. This is a catchy song and it's one that I like but I feel that it lacks what most of her other songs have. I don't feel that her vocals are that strong on this track either, you can barely hear what she's singing. The chorus is catchy but the lyrics are quite weak.

      ***3/5***

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      18) More Than A Woman (3.49)

      This song is another one written by Static Major & Timbaland & was the last single to be released from Aaliyah's final album. The video was done prior to the Rock The Boat video as this was scheduled to be the second single to be released but after Rock The Boat received so much attention they decided it was better to release More Than A Woman third. This was her only number one in the UK, sadly she had only just started to be really recognised over here when she was killed. This song also got to number one in the US.

      This song is the song that really stands out for me on this album & the album that it actually came from. It's an amazing R&B track & it almost manages to cross over into the pop genre which I think is part of the reason that this song was so popular & still is today. It's got a really strong beat that storms through from start to finish. Her vocals really shine through on this in a subtle but strong way.

      *****5/5*****

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      Bonus Tracks

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      The bonus tracks include a remix to If Your Girl Only Knew, featuring Missy Elliot & a One In A Million remix from Darkchild. I wouldn't say that the remixes are quite as strong as the original versions on this album however it's a nice little bonus to finish off a spectacular album.

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      I would highly recommend this album, it includes everyone of her singles which are all extremely memorable for their own specific reasons, either good or bad. The majority of the tracks on this album are absolutely flawless.

      I believe that artists like Rihanna & Ciara wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Aaliyah's music, she really paved the way for new artists. I think that if she was still here she would outshine the lot of them, including people like Beyonce & Kelly Rowland. She was the original & still the best.

      This album isn't widely available & at the moment it's not available on play.com or on iTunes but if you do manage to track it down somewhere I would highly recommend you buy it as this is a must for any R&B fan.

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