From daily livestreams of our favorite artists to Lady Gaga’s “One World: Together at Home” concert, musicians have provided us with a great amount of quarantine entertainment. But nothing has topped the amount of excitement music lovers get out of the Timbaland and Swizz Beats curated Instagram live series “Verzuz,” which pairs up two legendary producers to battle out 20 of their greatest hits and share stories about each song.
On April 20, Teddy Riley and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds—after a technical-difficulty ridden attempt two days prior—garnered over half a million viewers on their highly anticipated livestream battle. Even though the second attempt still experienced issues—partly because so many people were trying to get on the live—and ended earlier than expected, it remained a fantastic celebration of some of music’s most renowned hitmakers.
Although both producers each gave a fantastic setlist, Babyface in particular had very unique choices by playing his work with underrated artists like Karyn White and Tevin Campbell. With him—and Riley, of course—having massive catalogs filled with undisputable classics, it would be quite an endeavor to list every single song Babyface could’ve played.
But just for fun, here’s five suggestions.
“Sittin’ Up In My Room” – Brandy
Honestly, Babyface could’ve just played each track from the diva-filled 1995 soundtrack for “Waiting to Exhale,” which he wrote and produced almost entirely, because that’s how good it is. He did play Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans’ “Count On Me” when he and Riley broke off and did their own separate livestreams when they couldn’t reconnect, but this Brandy classic would’ve been a great option as well. After all, it’s perfect for the occasion and has already been deemed as a “quarantine anthem.”
“Someone to Hold” – Jon B. (featuring Babyface)
One of the best parts of the entire livestream was to see the celebrities on there completely fan out—just further proof of how much Riley and Babyface’s music has impacted everyone. In the middle of Babyface playing “Count On Me,” many noticed Nelly in the comments begging him to play Jon B. multiple times, which was hilarious. This 1995 track would’ve been the perfect one to make his wish come true. Like always, it’s just another example of Babyface’s knack for writing beautiful love songs with infectious melodies.
“Take A Bow” – Madonna
Babyface truly brings out the best in the artists he works with and for his first time working with Madonna in 1994, he did just that with this poetic mid tempo ballad. Being the second single for the “Bedtime Stories” album, Babyface helped Madonna showcase a more emotive side of her. And come on, Madonna’s elegant lead vocals and Babyface’s smooth background vocals all combined in one song are to die for!
“Diggin’ On You” – TLC
Thankfully, Babyface did get to play the sensual masterpiece “Red Light Special,” but this other R&B classic from 1994’s “CrazySexyCool” would’ve been another incredible addition to the setlist. More than any other TLC song, “Diggin’ On You” encapsulates the group’s effortless sense of coolness and confidence that just cannot be taught. Also, there’s nothing better than a Babyface written bridge.
“I’m Your Baby Tonight” – Whitney Houston
This funky, ever-so catchy track—co-produced and written with L.A. Reid in 1991—kickstarted Babyface’s magical partnership with The Voice. But as mentioned before, there’s so many classics to choose from—and a lot of them are Whitney songs. But this one in particular strayed away from her classic ballads, which is why it stands out. You’d be lying if you haven’t been out of breath after attempting to belt the fast-paced lyrics: “Looks like I’m fatal/It’s all on the table/And baby, you hold the cards …” and so on. Legendary is the only word we can describe it as.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.