Monday, November 27, 2023

R&B: Annual Song Awards, 1942-2023


Annual Song Awards, 1942-2023

This page offers a consolidated list of the R&B songs of each year as determined by various organizations and entities. They include:

  • American Music Awards: R&B/Soul Song of the Year (1974-1995, 2016-)
  • Billboard: R&B Song of the Year, 1942-.
  • Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI): R&B Song of the Year, 2001-. Music publishing company tracks most-played songs each year.
  • Grammys: Best Rhythm & Blues Performance (1959-1961), Best Rhythm & Blues Performance (1962-1968), Best R&B Song (1969)
  • Soul Train: Song of the Year (1989-1996, 2009-), Song of the Year by Male, Female, or Group/Duo (1987-2007)

See links at bottom of page for more details on above.

In some cases, awards are listed a year earlier than they were often given. For example, Bruno Mars won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 2018 for “That’s What I Like” but the song is listed under 2017 because that was its eligibility year.

Click here to see other ‘Songs of the Year’ lists.

  • Billboard: SZA “Kill Bill
  • Soul Train: SZA “Snooze”

  • AMA: WizKid with Tems “Essence”
  • Billboard: Jack Harlow “First Class
  • DMDB: Lizzo “About Damn Time”
  • Grammy: Beyoncé “Cuff It”
  • Soul Train: Beyoncé “Break My Soul”

  • AMA: Kanye West “Heartless”
  • Billboard: The Weeknd “Blinding Lights
  • BMI: Doja Cat “Say So”
  • DMDB: Chris Brown with Young Thug “Go Crazy”
  • Grammy: Robert Glasper with H.E.R. & Me’Shell Ndegeocello “Better Than I Imagined”
  • Soul Train: Chris Brown with Young Thug “Go Crazy”

  • AMA: Khalid “Talk”
  • Billboard: Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus “Old Town Road
  • BMI: Khalid “Talk”
  • DMDB: The Weeknd “Blinding Lights
  • Grammy: PJ Morton with JoJo “Say So”
  • Soul Train: Chris Brown with Drake “No Guidance”

  • AMA: Bruno Mars & Cardi B “Finesse”
  • Billboard: Drake “God’s Plan
  • BMI: Drake “God’s Plan
  • DMDB: Ella Mai “Boo’d Up”
  • Grammy: Ella Mai “Boo’d Up”
  • Soul Train: Ella Mai “Boo’d Up”


  • AMA: Rihanna with Drake “Work
  • Billboard: Drake with WizKid & Kyla “One Dance
  • BMI: G-Eazy with Bebe Rexha “Me, Myself & I”
  • DMDB: Rihanna with Drake “Work
  • Grammy: Maxwell “Lake by the Ocean”
  • Soul Train: Beyoncé “Formation”


  • Billboard: Pharrell Williams “Happy
  • BMI: John Legend “All of Me
  • DMDB: Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk!
  • Grammy: Beyoncé with Jay-Z “Drunk in Love”
  • Soul Train: Pharrell Williams “Happy

  • Billboard: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Wanz “Thrift Shop
  • BMI: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Ray Dalton “Can’t Hold Us
  • DMDB: Pharrell Williams “Happy
  • Grammy: Justin Timberlake “Pusher Love Girl”
  • Soul Train: Robin Thicke with T.I. & Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines

  • Billboard: Rihanna “Diamonds
  • BMI: Nicki Minaj “Starships”
  • DMDB: Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven
  • Grammy: Miguel “Adorn”
  • Soul Train: Tyrese “Stay”

  • Billboard: DJ Khaled with Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne “I’m on One”
  • BMI: Nicki Minaj “Super Bass”
  • DMDB: Rihanna with Calvin Harris “We Found Love
  • Grammy: Cee-Lo Green with Melanie Fiona “Fool for You”
  • Soul Train: Kelly Rowland with Lil Wayne “Motivation”

  • Billboard: Alicia Keys “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”
  • BMI: B.o.B. with Bruno Mars “Nothin’ on You”
  • DMDB: Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are (Amazing)
  • Grammy: John Legend & the Roots “Shine”
  • Soul Train: B.o.B. with Bruno Mars “Nothin’ on You”


  • Billboard: Robin Thicke “Lost Without U”
  • BMI: Beyoncé “Irreplaceable
  • DMDB: Rihanna with Jay-Z “Umbrella
  • Grammy: Alicia Keys “No One
  • Soul Train (Female): Beyoncé “Irreplaceable
  • Soul Train (Male): John Legend “Save Room”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Gnarls Barkley “Crazy

  • Billboard: Mary J. Blige “Be Without You
  • BMI: Beyoncé with Slim Thug & Bun B “Check on It”
  • DMDB: Gnarls Barkley “Crazy
  • Grammy: Mary J. Blige “Be Without You
  • Soul Train (Female): Mariah Carey “We Belong Together
  • Soul Train (Male): John Legend with “Ordinary People”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Destiny’s Child “Cater 2 U”

  • Billboard: Usher with Lil’ Jon & Ludacris “Yeah!
  • BMI: Usher with Lil’ Jon & Ludacris “Yeah!
  • DMDB: Usher with Lil’ Jon & Ludacris “Yeah!
  • Grammy: Alicia Keys “You Don’t Know My Name”
  • Soul Train (Female): Alicia Keys “You Don’t Know My Name”
  • Soul Train (Male): Luther Vandross “Dance with My Father”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Floetry “Say Yes”

  • Billboard: 50 Cent “In Da Club
  • BMI: R. Kelly “Ignition (remix)”
  • DMDB: OutKast “Hey Ya!
  • Grammy: Beyoncé with Jay-Z “Crazy in Love
  • Soul Train (Female): Ashanti with Ja Rule “Foolish
  • Soul Train (Male): Musiq Soulchild “Don’t Change”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): M2K with P. Diddy “Bump Bump Bump”

  • Billboard: Ashanti with Ja Rule “Foolish
  • BMI: Nelly “Hot in Herre
  • DMDB: Ashanti with Ja Rule “Foolish
  • Grammy: Erykah Badu with Common “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)”
  • Soul Train (Female): Aaliyah “Rock the Boat”
  • Soul Train (Male): Musiq Soulchild “Love”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): The Isley Brothers with Chante Moore “Contagious”

  • Billboard: Usher “U Got It Bad”
  • BMI: Janet Jackson “All for You”
  • DMDB: Alicia Keys “Fallin’
  • Grammy: Alicia Keys “Fallin’
  • Soul Train (Female): Yolanda Adams “Open My Heart”
  • Soul Train (Male): R. Kelly “I Wish”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Jagged Edge “Let’s Get Married”

  • Billboard: Erykah Badu “Bag Lady”
  • BMI: Santana with the Product G&B “Maria Maria”
  • DMDB: Destiny’s Child “Independent Women
  • Grammy: Destiny’s Child “Say My Name”
  • Soul Train (Female): Lauryn Hill “Ex-Factor”
  • Soul Train (Male): Maxwell “Fortunate”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): TLC “No Scrubs”

  • Billboard: Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”
  • DMDB: TLC “No Scrubs”
  • Grammy: TLC “No Scrubs”
  • Soul Train (Female): Deborah Cox “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here”
  • Soul Train (Male): Brian McKnight “Anytime”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Next “Too Close”

  • Billboard: Deborah Cox “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here”
  • DMDB: Brandy & Monica “The Boy Is Mine”
  • Grammy: Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)
  • Soul Train (Female): Erykah Badu “On and On”
  • Soul Train (Male): Usher “U Make Me Wanna…”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Dru Hill “In My Bed”

  • Billboard: Usher “U Make Me Wanna…”
  • DMDB: Puff Daddy with Faith Evans & 112 “I’ll Be Missing You
  • Grammy: R. Kelly “I Believe I Can Fly”
  • Soul Train (Female): Toni Braxton “You’re Makin’ Me High” / “Let It Flow”
  • Soul Train (Male): Maxwell “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Blackstreet with Dr. Dre & Queen Pen “No Diggity

  • Billboard: R. Kelly with Ronald Isley “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)”
  • DMDB: Toni Braxton “Un-Break My Heart”
  • Grammy: Whitney Houston “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”
  • Soul Train: The Notorious B.I.G. “One More Chance”
  • Soul Train (Female): Whitney Houston “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”
  • Soul Train (Male): D’Angelo “Brown Sugar”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): TLC “Waterfalls”

  • AMA: Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love to You
  • Billboard: The Notorious B.I.G. “One More Chance” / “Stay with Me”
  • DMDB: Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men “One Sweet Day
  • Grammy: Stevie Wonder “For Your Love”
  • Soul Train: Barry White “Practice What You Preach”
  • Soul Train (Female): Anita Baker “Body and Soul”
  • Soul Train (Male): R. Kelly “Bump N’ Grind”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love to You

  • AMA: Michael Jackson “Remember the Time”
  • Billboard: Silk “Freak Me”
  • DMDB: Janet Jackson “That’s the Way Love Goes”
  • Grammy: Janet Jackson “That’s the Way Love Goes”
  • Soul Train: Boyz II Men “End of the Road
  • Soul Train (Female): Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You
  • Soul Train (Male): Michael Jackson “Remember the Time”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Boyz II Men “Please Don’t Go”

  • AMA: Color Me Badd “I Wanna Sex You Up”
  • Billboard: Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You
  • DMDB: Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You
  • Grammy: Boyz II Men “End of the Road
  • Soul Train: Color Me Badd “I Wanna Sex You Up”
  • Soul Train (Female): Lisa Fischer “How Can I Ease the Pain?”
  • Soul Train (Male): Keith Washington “Kissing You”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Color Me Badd “I Wanna Sex You Up”

  • AMA: MC Hammer “U Can’t Touch This
  • Billboard: Shanice “I Love Your Smile”
  • DMDB: Natalie Cole with Nat “King” Cole “Unforgettable”
  • Grammy: Luther Vandross “Power of Love/Love Power”
  • Soul Train: MC Hammer “U Can’t Touch This
  • Soul Train (Female): Mariah Carey “Vision of Love
  • Soul Train (Male): Johnny Gill “My My My”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): En Vogue “Hold On”

  • AMA: Janet Jackson “Miss You Much”
  • Billboard: Pebbles “Giving You the Benefit”
  • DMDB: C + C Music Factory “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
  • Grammy: MC Hammer “U Can’t Touch This
  • Soul Train: Soul II Soul “Keep on Movin’”
  • Soul Train (Female): Janet Jackson “Miss You Much”
  • Soul Train (Male): Luther Vandross “Here and Now”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Soul II Soul “Keep on Movin’”

  • AMA: Freddie Jackson “Nice N Slow”
  • Billboard: Karyn White “Superwoman”
  • DMDB: Soul II Soul “Back to Life (How Ever Do You Want Me)”
  • Grammy: Simply Red “If You Don’t Know Me by Now”
  • Soul Train: Anita Baker “Giving You the Best That I Got”
  • Soul Train (Female): Anita Baker “Giving You the Best That I Got”
  • Soul Train (Male): Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): E.U. “Da Butt”

  • AMA: Michael Jackson “Bad”
  • Billboard: Keith Sweat “I Want Her”
  • DMDB: Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry, Be Happy
  • Grammy: Anita Baker “Giving You the Best That I Got”
  • Soul Train (Female): Natalie Cole “I Live for Your Love”
  • Soul Train (Male): Michael Jackson “Bad”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Levert “Casanova”
  • Soul Train (Rap): LL Cool J “I Need Love”

  • AMA: Janet Jackson “Nasty”
  • Billboard: Michael Jackson “The Way You Make Me Feel”
  • DMDB: Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me
  • Grammy: Club Nouveau “Lean on Me
  • Soul Train (Female): Anita Baker “Sweet Love”
  • Soul Train (Male): Gregory Abbott “Shake You Down”
  • Soul Train (Group/Duo): Cameo “Word Up!”
  • Soul Train (Rap): Run-D.M.C. with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler & Joe Perry “Walk This Way

  • AMA: Whitney Houston “You Give Good Love”
  • Billboard: Prince “Kiss
  • DMDB: Prince “Kiss
  • Grammy: Anita Baker “Sweet Love”

  • AMA: Prince “When Doves Cry
  • Billboard: Freddie Jackson “Rock Me Tonight (For Old Time’s Sake)”
  • DMDB: Dionne & Friends (Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder) “That's What Friends Are For
  • Grammy: Aretha Franklin “Freeway of Love”


  • AMA: Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love
  • Billboard: Marvin Gaye “Sexual Healing
  • DMDB: Michael Jackson “Billie Jean
  • Grammy: George Benson “Turn Your Love Around”

  • AMA: Diana Ross “Upside Down
  • Billboard: Earth, Wind & Fire “Let’s Groove”
  • DMDB: Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love
  • Grammy: Bill Withers with Grover Washington Jr. “Just the Two of Us”

  • AMA: Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”
  • Billboard: Chic “Good Times
  • DMDB: Sister Sledge “We Are Family
  • Grammy: Earth, Wind & Fire “After the Love Has Gone”

  • AMA: The Emotions “Best of My Love”
  • Billboard: Funkadelic “One Nation Under a Groove”
  • DMDB: Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”
  • Grammy: Donna Summer “Last Dance”

  • AMA: Lou Rawls “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and Wild Cherry “Play That Funky Music
  • Billboard: Earth, Wind & Fire “Serpentine Fire”
  • DMDB: Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive
  • Grammy: Leo Sayer “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”

  • AMA: KC & the Sunshine Band “Get Down Tonight”
  • Billboard: Johnnie Taylor “Disco Lady”
  • DMDB: Wild Cherry “Play That Funky Music
  • Grammy: Boz Scaggs “Lowdown”

  • AMA: Gladys Knight & the Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia
  • Billboard: The Isley Brothers “Fight the Power (Part 1)”
  • DMDB: Van McCoy “The Hustle
  • Grammy: Betty Wright “Where Is the Love”

  • AMA: Stevie Wonder “Superstition
  • Billboard: Roberta Flack “Feel Like Makin’ Love”
  • DMDB: Bob Marley & the Marleys “No Woman, No Cry
  • Grammy: Stevie Wonder “Living for the City”

  • Billboard: Jean Knight “Mr. Big Stuff”
  • DMDB: Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On
  • Grammy: Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine”

  • Billboard: The Jackson 5 “The Love You Save”
  • DMDB: The Jackson 5 “I’ll Be There
  • Grammy: Clarence Carter “Patches”

  • Billboard: Marvin Gaye “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”
  • DMDB: The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back
  • Grammy: The Winstons “Color Him Father”

  • Billboard: Aretha Franklin “Respect
  • DMDB: Aretha Franklin “Respect
  • Grammy: Aretha Franklin “Respect

  • Billboard: The Temptations “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
  • DMDB: Four Tops “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
  • Grammy: Ray Charles “Crying Time”

  • Billboard: Mary Wells “My Guy”
  • DMDB: The Temptations “My Girl
  • Grammy: Nancy Wilson “How Glad I Am”


  • Billboard: Bobby Lewis “Tossin’ and Turnin’”
  • DMDB: Ben E. King “Stand by Me
  • Grammy: Ray Charles “Hit the Road Jack”

  • Billboard: Dinah Washington & Brook Benton “Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes”
  • DMDB: Chubby Checker “The Twist
  • Grammy: Ray Charles “Let the Good Times Roll”

  • Billboard: Brook Benton “It’s Just a Matter of Time”
  • DMDB: Ray Charles “What’d I Say
  • Grammy: Dinah Washington “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”

  • Billboard: Jackie Wilson “Lonely Teardrops”
  • DMDB: Chuck Berry “Johnny B. Goode
  • Grammy: The Champs “Tequila”

  • Billboard: The Coasters “Searchin’”
  • DMDB: The Coasters “Searchin’”

  • Billboard: Fats Domino “Ain’t That a Shame”
  • DMDB: Little Richard “Tutti Frutti

  • Billboard: The Dominoes “Have Mercy Baby”
  • DMDB: Lloyd Price “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”

  • Billboard: The Dominoes “Sixty Minute Man”
  • DMDB: Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats “Rocket 88

  • Billboard: Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers “Pink Champagne”
  • DMDB: Nat “King” Cole “Mona Lisa

  • Billboard: Charles Brown “Trouble Blues”
  • DMDB: John Lee Hooker “Boogie Chillen

  • Billboard: Julia Lee & Her Boy Friends “King Size Papa”
  • DMDB: Nat “King” Cole “Nature Boy”

  • Billboard: Louis Jordan “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”
  • DMDB: T-Bone Walker “Call It Stormy Monday

  • Billboard: Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers “The Honeydripper”
  • DMDB: Billie Holiday “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)”

  • Billboard: The Ink Spots with Ella Fitzgerald “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”
  • DMDB: Nat “King” Cole “Straighten Up and Fly Right”

  • Billboard: Erskine Hawkins with Jimmy Mitchelle “Don’t Cry Baby”
  • DMDB: The Ink Spots “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”

  • Billboard: Paul Whiteman with Billie Holiday “Travl’lin’ Light”
  • DMDB: The Mills Brothers “Paper Doll

Resources/Related Links:

First posted 11/23/2021; last updated 11/27/2023.

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