Ever felt tongue-tied when trying to express your feelings for a crush? Maybe you’ve been feeling anxious or stressed as you harbor secret feelings for a certain someone. Sometimes, the perfect lyrics can say it all. We’ve compiled the best R&B songs about crushes which you may be able to relate to.
“Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige
Song Year: 2005
Classic MJB, “Be Without You” is the Grammy award-winning single off her 2005 album, The Breakthrough. The song quickly became one of the most played songs in the US in 2006, with the single going double platinum by the RIAA in 2007. A decade later, in 2017, it was ranked as one of the most successful R&B songs of all time by Billboard.
“Be Without You” is arguably one of the best Mary J Blige songs.
With lyrics originally written by Johnta Austin, an American singer-songwriter and producer, Mary J. Blige later came in and reportedly tweaked several lines to better suit her and relate to her vision for the song.
The song begins and ends with proclamations of love, as a bookend to lyrics that express an unwavering commitment to a romantic partner – waiting up every night until they get home, and sticking things out through good and bad.
“With You” by Chris Brown
Song Year: 2007
Chris Brown’s “With You” is undeniably one of the all-time great 2000s R&B songs about crushes. The song showcases Chris Brown’s silky smooth vocal delivery. This sexy slow jam resonates with listeners who may have a secret little crush on someone they view as perfect.
“With You” expresses the singer’s admiration for his girl in every possible way. The song captures how having a crush can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing any flaws in that person – you’re only capable of praising every aspect of them.
“Better” by Khalid
Song Year: 2018
Khalid introduced the world to “Better” in 2018, as a single that followed up on his previous “OTW,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. The release on September 14, 2018 marked a notable point in Khalid’s career trajectory, as his popularity started to soar right around this point.
The lyrics initially seem to speak volumes about admiration and infatuation for a partner who outshines anyone he’s ever known previously – a common state of euphoria around the “high” of harboring a crush.
However, the song hints at something more physical, with an intense physical passion and chemistry that signals more than “just friends.”
“Die For You” The Weeknd
Song Year: 2016
We can’t talk about the best tracks in contemporary R&B without mentioning The Weeknd.
While his earlier material off House of Balloons arouses a dark, brooding picture of temptation and lust, his material on 2016’s Starboy shows a degree of maturity. This chart-topping hit, which is certified 5X Platinum by the RIAA in 2022, has become one of his most genuinely heartfelt songs to date, thanks in part to its lyrics that narrate a relationship that didn’t pan out.
With TikTok driving its resurgence in popularity recently, fans old and new have sought out more context related to this hit single; speculation suggests “Die for You” is about his past relationship with Bella Hadid.
“Die For You” chronicles both the intense passion and pain that comes with letting go of someone you have deep feelings for – when those feelings aren’t reciprocated.
“Say It Right” by Nelly Furtado
Song Year: 2006
Nelly Furtado released her third studio album, Loose, in 2006. This album featured her chart-topping single, “Say It Right.” Produced by Danja and Timbaland (who features on the track), “Say It Right” is a Eurythmics inspired contemporary R&B song with big pop hooks.
Though she confessed not knowing what exactly the song was about or where the inspiration came from in a BBC interview from 2010, the lyrics reveal the emotions and vulnerabilities associated with fully committing yourself to a crush in an act of personal abandon.
Nelly Furtado says there’s an air of mystery about the song, which is perhaps part of the intrinsic appeal of a crush – the mystery of who that person is that you’ve yet to discover. Throwing yourself into something (or someone) with reckless abandon is hallmark c-r-u-s-h-i-n-g, which puts Nelly Furtado’s song near the top of our list.
Often cited as one of the standout tracks on Loose since its release in 2006, “Say It Right” reflects Furtado’s distinctive blend of pop and R&B.
“Love Song” by Rihanna ft. Future
Song Year: 2012
“Love Song” by Rihanna ft. Future (formerly “Loveeeeeee Song” until it was renamed by Jay-Z) is a slow R&B track that captures the feelings of romantic longing that come with having a crush. An R&B list about crushes or romance wouldn’t be complete without Rihanna.
Released as part of Rihanna’s 2012 album, Unapologetic, the song showcases her ability to convey sentimental and even corny feelings with direct honesty. The song has Rihanna guessing if her special someone is thinking about her, proclaiming her need for love and affection – but still asking to take the reins of control.
“Excuse Me Miss” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell
Song Year: 2003
Released through his label imprint in 2003, Roc-A-Fella Records, “Excuse Me Miss” is believed to be all about Beyoncé and explores the idea of love at first sight. The song shows a lot of lyrical maturity for Jay-Z compared to his earlier work on “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
While neither Beyoncé or Jay-Z have confirmed the song to be about their (then) budding romance, it was written, recorded, and released during the initial stages of their relationship, and clearly reflects a man deeply in love.
“double take” by dhruv
Song Year: 2019
dhruv’s “double take” is an R&B track from 2019 that has caught the attention of music fans around the world through social media platforms, like TikTok. This London-born singer showcases his talent and style in this smooth and soulful track.
The song tells the story of a meaningful queer friendship that hints at something more – dhruv narrates as though he sees something more physical between them that has yet to happen. This song is a classic crush story: falling in love with your best friend and all the unrequited feelings that come with it.
With “double take,” dhruv proves that he is more than just a one-hit wonder.
“Knock You Down” by Keri Hilson
Song Year: 2009
Released in 2009 for her debut album, In A Perfect World…, “Knock You Down” by Keri Hilson features Kanye West and Ne-Yo on one of the biggest R&B tracks of the 2000s.
This collab between three powerhouse artists delivers emotional range that encapsulates the feelings of being “knocked down” by love.
If you’re looking for an R&B anthem about crushing, “Knock You Down” is definitely worth adding to a playlist – the song is all about what happens when a powerful romance overtakes your sense of self and independence.
“Because of You” by Ne-Yo
Song Year: 2007
Written for his 2007 album of the same name, “Because of You” recalls the intoxication of a crush and budding romance. Ne-Yo often compares the woman in the song to a drug, signifying a desire so intense it spirals into obsession.
While the lyrics are definitely playful, they also signal a crush that almost seems toxic to Ne-Yo’s mental state, clearly clouding his judgment and preoccupation with anything else. And yet, this is probably what makes the song relatable.
The song quickly became Ne-Yo’s second most successful song in the US, after his hit “So Sick.” It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2007. The instrumentation is pretty unique for an R&B track, showcasing harpsichord and disco-influenced guitar.
“Dilemma” by Nelly
Song Year: 2002
“Dilemma” was released as the second single for the aptly titled Nellyville, Nelly’s second album. Featuring Kelly Rowland, the song also made an appearance on her debut album, Simply Deep. Both saw release in 2002, to critical acclaim. The song peaked at the number one spot on the Billboard 100 for 10 weeks in the US, after it replaced Nelly’s iconic “Hot in Herre.”
The lyrics clearly describe a crush – or infatuation – for a woman already in a committed relationship. Really, it is a song about flirting with infidelity, as Rowland’s lines have the woman contemplating leaving her relationship.
“Sure Thing” Miguel
Song Year: 2010
Miguel’s “Sure Thing” is a classic love song that captures the essence of unconditional and everlasting love, with Miguel assuring that he’ll be there through thick & thin. The track, which was included on Miguel’s debut, All I Want Is You, quickly became an R&B favorite.
“Sure Thing” fits in pretty well with songs about coming back from heartbreak with an even stronger love for your ex.
Produced by Happy Perez, the song climbed to the top of multiple US Billboard charts, including the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Its success also extended to the UK, where it reached the Top 10.
What makes “Sure Thing” stand out is lyricism that promises unwavering devotion and loyalty to a significant other, part and parcel of having a crush. It’s no surprise that this heartfelt track often finds its way onto lists of best R&B songs about crushes or romantic relationships.
Interestingly, Miguel revealed that he wrote “Sure Thing” in an effort to win back a girlfriend he had cheated on – a testament to how personal the track is, but also a little hypocritical? We’ll let you be the judge of that.
“Come & Talk to Me” by Jodeci
Song Year: 1991
Released in 1991 by R&B group Jodeci, “Come & Talk to Me” topped Billboard’s 1992 R&B chart for 2 straight weeks. The song is tell-tale crush confession, with the first verse immediately checking off every crush cliché (in the best way possible).
The chorus makes it evident that this is a crush and not an actual relationship, as the narrator presses about “meeting” his crush and talking to her for the first time. This is a song all about physical attraction and desire for someone you haven’t been able to get out of your head – despite never speaking to them.
“Easy” by DaniLeigh ft. Chris Brown
Song Year: 2018
DaniLeigh’s hit 2018 track, “Easy” ft. Chris Brown is definitely one of the best examples of contemporary R&B songs about crushes.
DaniLeigh, a Dominican-American singer, delivers lyrics that perfectly capture the excitement and longing involved with having a crush. Usually known for her up-beat, dance-driven tracks, “Easy” is a bit of a curveball in her discography.
The lyrics speak directly on feelings of attraction and wanting a relationship that is truly effortless. Compared to a lot of the tracks on this list that come from a place of admiration for the qualities they see in the other person, DaniLeigh seems to talk about what she has to offer them. Rather, how much she’s going to be the one missed in the relationship.
“When I See U” by Fantasia
Song Year: 2006
Fantasia’s “When I See U” is a soulful and romantic R&B ballad that explores all those emotions wrapped up in having a crush on someone. The song showcases Fantasia’s incredible vocal delivery, making it a standout on her 2006 self-titled sophomore album.
Produced by Midi Mafia, this classic R&B track was released in the early 2000s as the second single for the self-titled record, where it then topped Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for 9 total weeks in 2007.
Lyrically, the song feels like Fantasia confessing all those otherwise hidden emotions involved in harboring a secret crush – when feelings of “shyness” and “nervousness” collide with the raw excitement of a potential new romance.
Top R&B Songs About Crushes, Final Thoughts
These R&B songs about crushes capture the exhilarating feeling of falling in love with somebody new, and the intense longing that comes with it. From Nelly Furtado’s mysterious and sultry “Say It Right” to Chris Brown’s infectious, hook-driven “With You,” these songs perfectly convey the scope of emotions involved in having a crush.
Whether you’re looking to express your feelings to that special someone, or simply enjoy some romantic tracks that capture the whirlwind of emotions involved in crushes both forbidden and realized, this playlist is sure to help hit all the right notes.