In 1993, Toni Braxton exploded onto the scene with her self-titled debut studio album. It was a major hit, taking her to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, earning 3 Grammy Awards, and selling over 10 million copies worldwide. Over the next decade, her career went from strength to strength, with songs like Breathe Again and Un-Break My Heart dominating the charts both home and away. In the early 2000s, her popularity took a nosedive, only to soar again in 2014 when she teamed up with longtime collaborator Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds on the Grammy Award-winning album Love, Marriage & Divorce. Here, we celebrate one of pop’s greatest divas as we rank the ten best Toni Braxton songs of all time.
10. Take This Ring
Three years before Beyonce gave us Single Ladies, Toni Braxton was tackling the exact same theme on the huge club banger, Take This Ring. It may have lacked the spandex and the iconic video (or any video at all, for that matter), but it was just as enjoyable, with a rocking beat and some outstanding arrangements from producer Rich Harrison. A complete lack of promotion from the record company made it miss out on the Billboard Hot 100, but it still managed to peak at No. 12 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart based on airplay alone.
9. Hands Tied
In 2010, Braxton dug deep into her sultry side with Hands Tied, a synth-infused piece of R&B that finds Braxton singing about how she can love a man with her hands tied. There are seductive vocals, a cascading piano, and enough double entendres to sink a ship. Released as the second single from Braxton’s seventh studio album Pulse, it peaked at No. 29 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 6 on the Adult R&B Songs chart.
8. Another Sad Love Song
As soundpasta.com points out, the first single from Braxton’s self-titled debut album made quite a splash on its release in 1993, winning Braxton her first-ever Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and showcasing her at the very peak of her vocal powers. With an irresistible hook and a slinky melody, it was a smash hit, taking her to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. I Love Me Some Him
If you listen to R&B radio, there’s a good chance you’ll have the words to I Love Me Some Him down to a t. It’s been a permanent fixture on the airwaves since its release in 1997, but despite its ubiquity, it never seems to get old. Braxton’s ability to harmonize with the instrumental is genius, and a mark of both her vocal abilities and musicality. Released as a double A-side with I Don’t Want To, it peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Hot R&B/ Hip-Hop Songs chart, and No. 2 on the Hot Dance Singles chart.
6. I Belong to You
Back in the summer of 1994, everyone was grooving to I Belong To You, a sultry piece of R&B gold written by Vassal Benford and Ronald Spearman for Braxton’s self-titled debut album. Released as the fifth and final single from the album, it peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No 6 on the R&B chart, eventually earning Braxton a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.
5. Long As I Live
As officialcharts.com notes, the lead single from Braxton’s Sex & Cigarettes album finds the singer sticking to what she does best – gut-wrenching heartache told over classy, silky-smooth R&B tones. Unanimously praised for its strong vocals and nostalgic vibe, it spent five consecutive weeks at the top of the US Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and won a string of awards, including the 50th NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song, Traditional. It was also nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.
4. Breathe Again
Braxton’s debut album spawned a series of hits, not least Breathe Again, a moody ballad about a relationship that’s run its course. Produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, the song’s arrangements are majestic, with a breathy chorus and low-key verses that perfectly convey the song’s moody sense of nostalgia. As well as taking Braxton to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, it earned the singer her second Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
3. He Wasn’t Man Enough
As Billboard notes, the new millennium might have seen Braxton embrace a new look and new sound, but her ability to bang out an anthem remained firmly intact. The Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins produced club banger He Wasn’t Man Enough was held off the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 by Carlos Santana and The Product G&B’s Maria Maria, but still managed to climb to a respectable No. 2. It also scored a four-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart.
2. Let It Flow
Released as a double A-side with You’re Making Me High, Let It Flow is a slow, utterly mesmerizing slice of R&B that gets in your head and stays there. The arrangements are flawless, but it’s Braxton’s vocal intensity and ability to combine rage with sensuality that steals the show. By the time it was released as a single, it was already picking up major airplay – unsurprisingly, it flew to the top of the charts, and has remained one of her signature songs ever since.
1. Un-Break My Heart
Un-Break My Heart isn’t just one of Toni Braxton’s best ever songs, it’s possibly the greatest power ballad of all time. Even if you’re not familiar with the rest of Braxton’s catalog, the chance that you haven’t heard this blistering piece of heartbreak is non-existent. Released as the second single from Braxton’s second studio album, Secrets, it spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It’s since become one of the best-selling singles of all time with worldwide sales of over 10 million.