Lionel Richie has had an impressive career. For decades, he's thrilled fans with his music across a number of genres. His Can't Slow Down was a massive hit in 1984 and one of the best albums of the year. He's been coming up with charting hits since the early 80's. More recently, he served as an advisor on NBC's "The Voice" and this month was honored by MusicCares as their 2016 Person of the Year. Here are the top ten songs that represent the best of Lionel Richie:
10. "Penny Lover"
"Penny Lover" was Richie's third consecutive number one single on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart. It also hit the Top 10 of two other charts, including the overall Hot 100. There's a certain funkiness to this song that makes it pop. The harmonies between Richie and the background vocalists are also well-placed. It's not as catchy as some of his more successful songs, but it's a keeper nonetheless.
9. "My Love"
If you're not listening closely, "My Love" can sound a lot like "Easy," one of Richie's biggest hits with The Commodores. The two songs seem to occupy a similar space. "My Love" also follows the same strength of pairing Richie's distinctive voice primarily with a piano. The lyrics are exactly what you'd expect from a love song, and Richie delivers them well. It gets catchier on multiple listens, even if it might give you a little bit of deja vu.
Now we're getting into the more high-profile hits. "Stuck On You" was number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Adult Contemporary Chart. It's a beautiful single that has a standout guitar line to go with Richie's vocals. With the simplicity of the instruments, his distinctive voice really stands out here. If there's a downfall for this song, it's that it's so relaxing that it might lull you into being too comfortable.
The chorus of this song may not be grammatically correct, but that doesn't stop it from being addictive. "Say You, Say Me" topped three different Billboard charts after its release, including the Hot 100. It was also certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Richie has come up with a single that is hard to forget both lyrically and musically (there are some nifty effects in the beginning). It might not be phrased perfectly but we can all understand what he means.
Could there be a more depressing song than "Hello"? Probably not. Every artist has a song like this in their repertoire but no one can touch how deeply "Hello" just makes the audience want to cry. It's one of only four Richie songs to reach number one on three separate charts and also be certified at least Gold. Emotionally it's a tough song to listen to more than once, so we're keeping it in the bottom half of this list, but every download should come with a coupon for Kleenex.
Here we go again with Richie coming up with surprising lyrical spins. Like "Say You, Say Me," this is a song where you don't want to think about it too much. And it has an awfully repetitive chorus. But Richie still crafts a great party song thanks to some excellent guitar riffs and plenty of enthusiasm. Think of this as the light version of "All Night Long," despite the fact that "All Night Long" came out three years earlier.
"Truly" is one of Richie's two big ballads. It's the one where he gets to hit the biggest notes and impress the listener with his vocal ability. There's not a lot else going on with this song other than his voice. That means the audience has to focus on his voice building to the way he holds out the title for longer than many of us could manage. If you want to hear Richie and only Richie, put on "Truly" and you get why he has such staying power.
One of the cool things about the 1980's and into the 1990's was that soundtracks kept coming up with fantastic duets between some of the biggest names in music. Richie's first single as a solo artist was "Endless Love," a joint effort with Diana Ross. To this day it's the only one of his songs to reach Platinum status. Everyone's a sucker for a sweeping ballad but this one was overflowing with star power between the two singers. It brings out the best in two legends.
2. "You Are"
Here's one of the great love songs in the history of music. "You Are" was Richie's third single as a solo artist. It topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and was within the Top 4 on two of the magazine's other lists. While it wasn't one of his biggest hits, it's one of his songs that holds up the best today. There's so much to admire here, starting with the timeless chorus and continuing to the fact that he re-recorded a new version with Blake Shelton that's almost as good.
Who on this planet hasn't heard "All Night Long"? This is the single most easily identifiable with Richie. It was number one on three different Billboard charts in 1983. It seems to be played at every party imaginable. And you can't complain about it because it really is one of the best party songs ever to have been recorded. Plus, without this song we wouldn't have this fantastic parody video featuring MLB star Matt Kemp.
Just like that classic album, Lionel Richie can't slow down. The singer will play a series of shows across the United Kingdom over the next few months. Stops on his "All The Hits" tour include London, Manchester and Birmingham. Tickets are on sale now at AXS. Fans can keep up with the latest news and information on Lionel Richie at AXS.