In the wake of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s death, many of us have found ourselves traveling down a memory lane of musical genius. And as with the deaths of Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson and Prince, losing a musical icon and honoring their passing by pressing play on throwbacks can have you in your nostalgic feelings.

After strumming my pain with Auntie Ree’s dynamic catalog and rocking out to R&B from the mid-to-late ’90s on into the new millennium, it became clear that while black people are the progenitors of the best music, many black folks f**k with some of whitest white music. And by f**k with, I mean some of us know all the damn lyrics, and many of us have even bought the albums.

Don’t front. Don’t act like Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” is a reach.

Every decade has at least one white band or singer who has been given an official black card or received an invitation to the cookout on the strength of their vocal prowess. And guess what? Madonna ain’t it. 


1. Paramore - "Crushcrushcrush"

So yeah, it’s about a crush — a relationship never coming into fruition. But are we listening? Or do we care more about the marriage of these musical instruments? Perhaps Lil’ Uzi Vert can answer this for us.

YouTube | Taye Marsel

2. Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"

Many of us were introduced to Underwood by way of American Idol in 2005. Since winning season 4, the singer’s career has skyrocketed. She has Grammy awards and hall of fame status to prove it. However, it is this song that black people cherry-picked and made ours.

YouTube | Carrie Underwood

3. Teena Marie - "Square Biz"

YouTube | BrownPrider Funk

Ms. Marie dominated the “that white girl can sing” category back in the ’80s when she stepped out with Rick James. Her solo “Square Biz” bumps on most old-school ’80s R&B playlists ‘cause your mama, your daddy and all your aunties and uncles said so — and Rick James, too.


4. No Doubt - "Don’t Speak"

When No Doubt popped on the scene in 1996, it was no doubt in our minds Gwen Stefani would be its breakout artist. When she did spread her solo wings, she had us hollering back the lyrics to “Hollaback Girl.” Then our beloved Eve co-signed Stefani by featuring her on the Grammy-winning “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”

YouTube | NoDoubtTV

5. Linkin Park - "Numb"

Long before Jay-Z remixed it for “Numb/Encore” and XXX-Tentacion expressed numbness on his track “Numb,” Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington beautifully sang about the tragic lows of depression and disappointment. Bennington committed suicide last July.

YouTube | Linkin Park

6. Phil Collins - "In the Air Tonight"

Collins wowed black music lovers with his course vocals as lead singer in the group Genesis, but his hit single “In the Air Tonight” took that awe-factor to the next level. This song is a cult classic in almost every hood. Rapper Beanie Sigel remixed it on 2003’s “Feel It in the Air.”

YouTube | Phil Colins

7. Lorde - "Royals"

This Australian dame’s course vocals laced over a hip-hop beat is an ode to the underdogs of the world, and when Rick Ross jumps on the track, it becomes hood-certified for real. Ahem.

YouTube | MoneyHipHopTV

8. Adele - 19, 21 and 25

Auntie Ree gave this British babe a nod while shading other “renowned” divas. Plus, “Rolling in the Deep” proved Adele wasn’t just another white girl with soul. She had the rhythm and the blues to match. Amen?

YouTube | Adele

9. Panic! at the Disco - "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"

It bumps, and the wedding day theatrics of both the song and video is some entertaining tea.

YouTube | Fueled By Ramen

10. Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Winehouse had the chops and the throaty chords that had us second guessing Macy Gray’s rank on the playlist. Winehouse had personal battles that interrupted her superstardom. We watched her struggle; we wanted her to win. Although “Rehab” had staying power, unfortunately, Winehouse did not. The acclaimed songstress died from a drug overdose at the age of 27.

YouTube | Amy Winehouse

11. Evanescence - "Bring Me to Life"

The drums, the guitars, the bass, the veiny vocals give us life in this energetic hit. It has all the trappings of an ’80s rock song borrowed by black folks and never to be returned like “Shout” by Tears for Fears.

YouTube | Evanescence

12. The Police - "Roxanne"

The Police put a hurting on this timeless gem, though, many of us were introduced to the song by Eddie Murphy when he belted it in the classic film 48 Hours. Since then it’s been etched in our brains.

YouTube | The Police

13. Green Day - American Idiot

This whole album is a national treasure, and MTV made sure we knew. N’ary half-hour was complete without a Green Day plug. The same was true for contemporary radio stations. The early 2000s ushered in Green Day all day every day, but it was a sound choice because it was a solid album. Source Magazine would’ve given American Idiot five mics. It went hard on every block and every broken boulevard.

YouTube | Green Day

Though these songs may be testaments that a few white people have soul, by no means are they better than the life-giving beats and melodies we create.