'90s R&B hits Wembley

This Saturday, a posse of R&B greats come together for The Show at Wembley Arena. Here are six classic jams you’ll hear on the night

Donell Jones – ‘U Know What’s Up’ It would be tempting to say that the heaving line-up for this Wembley Arena gig – titled The Show: R&B Superstars – marked some kind of ’90s revival. The truth is, though, that songs like this ultra-smooth 1999 classic never really went away. Chicago’s Mr Jones laid it down with so many multi-tracked layers of honey-dipped soul that you kinda ignored the fact that he basically just wanted to have sex on the back seat of his car.Key lyric: ‘I think I feel a bone coming on’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'You Know What's Up' below
Ginuwine – ‘Pony’ This innocent song about tiny horses (oh, who are we kidding, it's more sordid than ‘Game of Thrones’) is the reason Wembley’s sprinklers might have to be deployed this Saturday. Ginuwine's robotic ode to bachelorhood (produced by Timbaland) is just as potent now as it was when it was released in 1996. In recent years, it's been reworked by Rihanna and covered by Ed Sheeran (urgh, gross), and gets dropped at East End house parties more often than naughty pills. Ginuwine himself is still in great shape today, too. In fact there's only one thing un-sexy about the man: his real name is Elgin Baylor Lumpkin. No wonder he's a bachelor.Key lyric: ‘My saddle’s waiting’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'Pony' below
Sisqó – ‘Thong Song’ It's over 14 years old, but Sisqó’s desperate plea to see that confounded thong still echoes around the world today. The story of ‘Thong Song’ is as old as time: man spots a woman with ‘dumps like a truck’, he soon desires to see her lingerie, and… er, that’s it. What it lacked in subtlety it made up for in passion: Sisqó wanted to see that thong so badly that he employed orchestral strings, a huge key change and some turbo-lunged croonery to make us feel his plight. Not much is known about Sisqó these days, but what's for certain is that the effects of 14 years of thong lust are very real. For that reason, don't throw any underwear onstage - it could lead to some distressing scenes.Key lyric: ‘You cruise to the crews like connect-the-dots’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'Thong Song' below
Faith Evans – ‘Love Like This’ Riding a loop sampled from Chic, Faith Evans brought some glitterball glamour to the ’90s R&B charts with this silken masterpiece. As fresh and carefree as the love it evangelises, her 1997 single belies the murder of her husband Notorious BIG a year before. After its release, the song took on another life when another girthy-and-proud hip hopper – Fatman Scoop – remixed it into frat-boy favourite ‘Be Faithful’. Far be it for us to insult a man named after a unit of ice cream, but Scoop's version was rubbish. Adding shouting, cheering sounds and a coda that asks ‘who's fucking tonight?’ severely messed with Faith's innocent original. Thankfully for visitors to Wembley this Saturday, there'll be no surprise Scoop.Key lyric: ‘I can’t even take my mind off loving you’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'Love Like This' below
Adina Howard – ‘Freak Like Me’ Before Azealia, Rihanna or even Lil Kim, there was Adina. Nobody in R&B was getting hers quite as determinedly as the Michigan-born singer did on her 1995 debut single. Over a G-funk beat, she details her kind of man with the specificity of someone ordering a £100 steak. If you were lucky enough to be a card-carrying freak, mazel tov: Adina was ready to ‘pump pump all through the night till the early morn’. If you lacked core freakiness, however, she’d just chew you up and spit you out – without dirtying her quintessentially ’90s pleather jacket in the process. Despite the rather twee Sugababes cover version of 2002, ‘Freak Like Me’ remains Adina’s calling card.Key lyric: ‘Boy, you're moving kind of slow’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'Freak Like Me' below
Blackstreet – ‘No Diggity’ Sadly only Dave Hollister, one-quarter of R&B vocal powerhouse Blackstreet, is on the way to Wembley. Regardless, you can guarantee he’ll be saving this (ahem) seminal grind-’em-up classic for the end of his set. Nowadays, Hollister is a minister at his local church. Back in 1996, however, the group’s faith was being tested left, right and centre: ‘Shorty, get down – good Lord’ is how they introduced the street-savvy subject of their affections. Whether she led the men of God astray, we don’t know for certain. But does it still give people eargasms all these years later? No diggity, no doubt.Key lyric: ‘Baby, you’re a perfect ten’ Buy this song on iTunes Watch the video for 'No Diggity' below

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