November 25, 2022
The One and Only-LIYAH
The number seven is considered the number of completion. In just seven short years, singer/actress/model and forever cultural icon Aaliyah Haughton made such an impact on the world that it truly is remarkable to think that it was all accomplished by the tender age of 22. Five years before the singer’s untimely passing along with her glam crew after filming what would become her final music video, she released a sophomore album, One In A Million. Before this album, in 1994, she was introduced to everyone with a catchy song that gave us one of many famous monikers, LIYAH. After a two-year hiatus to collectively change and rebrand her image and sound, she returned stronger than ever.
One In A Million was officially released on August 13, 1996, and overall, the album went on to triple platinum status in the US and eight times platinum worldwide. Aaliyah fans had to listen to her music through older playlists or CDs/cassettes for over a decade because her music was not featured on streaming platforms. However, nearly 20 years later, her music began its reemergence and resurgence online through re-release. OIAM debuted on the Billboard 200 charts on September 14, 1996, and it continued to set records 25 years after its release. OIAM reached the number 10 spot on September 4, 2021, with the re-release to a generation of fans that only know of her via internet memorabilia. Three singles from this album also appeared in the Top 30 regarding Digital Sales in September 2021.
Regarding album sales, One in A Million reached a new peak on September 4, 2021, at Number 5, officially making this album listed on the charts for 70 weeks. One of the many things that could be said about Aaliyah from the release of this project was that her sound was more mature, but she still maintained her sass and flair. In the opinion of a handful of critics, Aaliyah’s image and demeanor never appeared more mature for her age. Her life experiences and the power she gained by creating the path she wanted to follow gave her an edge and persona that was more elusive than mature. However, despite this often-read assumption about the songstress, it was clear that her talent wasn’t elusive.
The famous title track cemented a new sound and style for modern R&B music that is still heavily influenced by its driving beat and smooth rhythms that nod to the past. OIAM spawned six singles in total, with the first release as If Your Girl Only Knew and the final single as Hot Like Fire. Aside from newness and originality, many of the songs featured on OIAM were sung with a technicality that many of her contemporaries simply did not possess, let alone by a sixteen-year-old. One of those examples is found in the track Giving You More, which showcased and centered a very soulful Aaliyah. From the background harmonies to the smooth baseline and tempo, Giving You More allowed the singer to send her message that she was, in fact, giving you much more of her artistry.
In Choosey Lover (Old School/New School), Aaliyah samples the sounds of the Isely Brothers while placing a signature newness of laid-back 90s R&B. Choosey Lover is a distinct track on the album because of its time length and the nostalgic twist that blends perfectly together with not only the sound but the composition of the album. And one final standout from OIAM centers Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, which sampled Ladies Night by Kool & The Gang. The feel-good song is a reminder that with everything happening today, the world is due for a reprieve from the constant crisis. Based on her musical legacy and what the singer represented, Aaliyah’s message was for harmony, to focus on being your best self, and continue striving for your goals.
Overall, One In A Million samples many classic and contemporary musical elements, and it’s worth reliving to catch all of the references she utilized to make such a definitive album. Her impact on today’s industry standards proved powerful and transformative. And posthumously, Aaliyah is indeed considered One in A Million and one of the best to ever grace the R&B scenes in the late 20th Century.