Kelis’s 20 Best Songs – Ranked! | The route

20. Fuck Them Bitches (2006)

Hidden at the end of Kelis Was Here – after the laid-back, samba-influenced closer Have a Nice Day – is a burst of Kelis on her most winning spleen, turning her attention to that eternal bug bear, the Haters: “Keep my name your mouth ,’ she offers, ‘I’ll keep my foot out of your ass.’

19. Feed Them (2022)

Since the release of her latest album, 2014’s Food, Kelis has largely limited her releases to guest venues — which include Disclosure and TCTS — but this year’s single Feed Them, a teaser to her forthcoming album Dirt, was a light-hearted, funky return, apparently designed to emphasize the need for more fruits and vegetables in one’s diet.

18. Sugar Honey Iced Tea (2003)

Kelis at her most light-hearted – the backing track comes loaded with soft soul strings and laid-back sax, the enamored lyrics are filled with blue skies and twittering birds, the title line is sung in an accelerated child’s voice – and yet there’s still a dirty joke on hand: acronym the title and it doesn’t seem so sweet.

17. Be Forever (2014)

Four years after reinventing herself as a house diva, she turned left again: Food was produced by TV on radio’s Dave Sitek, with a quirky, eclectic, left-wing take on soul. With its husky vocals floating over a tapestry of strings and horns and minimal piano, Forever Be is utterly joyful.

16. July 4 (Fireworks) (2010)

Her guest appearances are beyond the scope of this list, but throughout her career Kelis has collaborated with dance producers – Timo Maas, Moby, Richard X, Crookers – which helped explain why her own left-wing spin on house music on 2010 Flesh Tone worked: poppily melodic but tough, the 4th of July commercial failure (Fireworks) was surprising.

15. Distance (2012)

The great what-ifs of Kelis’ career: Played on the radio, available online as an illegal rip, never officially released, the Skream-produced Distance was said to be the lead single from an unfinished “trip-hoppy… darker” album. It’s great: a whisper of two-step garage in the beats, the lyrics about a collapsing relationship – at odds with the luscious electronic backing.

Several last year
Several last year. Photo: Mike Mora

14. Popular Thug (2001)

Kelis’ second album, Wanderland, was a commercial disaster: her US label refused to release it and it flopped everywhere else. Still, it’s just as good as her debut, as evidenced by Popular Thug’s swinging beats and clever, repetitive hook. She then re-recorded it with then-partner Nas, but the original, which featured Clipse’s Pusha-T, is it.

13. Shoemaker (2014)

After often complaining about her record labels, Kelis sounded genuinely comfortable on Food. From the opening studio chat to his awesome self-mockery about the artist’s limited vocal range – it’s hard to imagine any of her peers would accept such a thing – Cobbler is a squirming funky well of copious good vibes.

12. Getting Along With You (1999)

Kelis isn’t exactly known for his ballads, but Kaleidoscope’s heartbroken Get Along With You – a bittersweet slow-motion take on the 1999 trend for R&B tracks propelled by staccato riffs – shows a suitably off-center approach to form. : “Now I am forced to roam this planet unfortunately,” she laments, “lonely as a loose baguette.”

11. Millionaire (2003)

Produced by imperial stage André 3000 and pretty much everything on OutKast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below, Millionaire is a fantastic song: a slick new wavy drum machine amongst scattered, distorted synths and a fantastic melody. You actually get more André than Kelis for your money, but who cares if the results are this good?

10. Good Stuff (1999)

With his great bass line, clever lyrics – “I can love you a million ways, if you don’t like it send it back in 30 days” – and a fantastic guest appearance from Pusha-T (back then he still called himself Terrar), Good Stuff was smart, minimal and different: as much a calling card in its own way as Caught Out There.

9. Looking Back (2001)

Another song that escaped Wanderland’s commercial car crash to live another day, Flashback’s futuristic funk resurfaced in identical form on the album’s follow-up Tasty. Aside from the beautiful melody, there’s almost nothing to it – a cool beat, a bit of synth – but that’s all it needs: the Neptunes at their spartan best.

8. Like You (2006)

Outside of her work with the Neptunes, Like You has arguably the most notable beat in Kelis’ catalog: a cut, twisted sample of an opera singer erupting into a nagging hook on the chorus. Together with her soft voice – she bursts out laughing after a particularly candid line – Like You makes a brilliantly original take on a slow jam in the bedroom.

Kelis plays Acapella at Eve Nightclub, Las Vegas, in February 2010
Kelis plays Acapella at Eve Nightclub, Las Vegas, in February 2010. Photo: Steven Lawton/FilmMagic

7. Acapella (2010)

Flesh Tone’s highlight found David Guetta unexpectedly curb his poppier tendencies: a million miles away from his work on Black Eyed Peas’s I Gotta Feeling, it’s a distorted, minimal electro-house stunner: Donna Summer’s ghost lurks somewhere around Kelis’ performance, the chorus is fantastic, the overall effect euphoric but never apparent.

6. Jerk Ribs (2014)

Food’s song titles echoed Kelis’ second career as a Cordon Bleu chef, but Jerk Ribs’ lyrics are a beautiful meditation on her jazz musician father and the way music and memory are intertwined: that they are set to urgent. horn-laden Afrobeat-influenced funk rather than something more reflective just makes them more powerful.

5. Young, Fresh and New (2001)

A flop in the US, which seems inexplicable. This is by far the Neptune’s best attempt at forging a 21st-century funk-rock hybrid: the sound of Kelis erupting from a multitude of car alarms and grinding electronics is wildly exciting; no comparable NERD production has ever lived up to it.

4. Bossy (2006)

As if to prove she could make weird hit singles without the help of the Neptunes, Kelis teamed up with producer Bangladesh – best known for Lil’ Wayne’s A Milli – on Bossy: spindly keyboards, plenty of moans and an 808 drum machine, about which she roars irresistibly: “I ride to the rhythm like a bicycle – I’m freezing”.

3. Deceive Me (2003)

Hats off to producer Dallas Austin, who wrote Trick Me – unstoppable hook, great lyrics – and transformed the cheesy preset foxtrot rhythm on a 60s Mellotron keyboard into sneaky reggae. Nevertheless, it’s Kelis’s show. She sounds both seductive and steely, suggesting that the subject of the song will regret his decision to screw her up.

2. Caught There (1999)

Kelis’ cameo on Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Got Your Money had already pricked the ears, but Caught Out There was one of the big standout debuts of the ’90s. The screamed chorus is what everyone remembers, but its power lies in the shift from the cold, disdainful tone of the verses to the rage of the chorus.

1. Milk Shake (2003)

Relations between Kelis and the Neptunes are at an all-time low, but before it all went bitterly wrong, their collaboration produced her best song — and theirs. Milkshake is a stunning record, made of roaring, blaring electronic noise, an Egyptian darbuka drum and the alternately brash and sexy vocals of Kelis.

Who could have predicted that something so weird, experimental – and sometimes atonal – would be a worldwide hit? And yet, who could have doubted that? Despite its exciting sonic strangeness, Milkshake is impossibly catchy and eminently danceable: it’s like a dream about how rich and exciting pop music could be.

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