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"Black contemporary" gained popularity with the recording industry in the 1980s as a politically correct designation for African American popular music. A direct progression beyond terms such as "race music," "sepia blues," rhythm and blues," "soul," and "funk," the genre cuts across a wide range of stylistic boundaries. It came to mean middle-of-the-road forms of music as interpreted by African Americans, particularly romantic ballads likely to be played on Top 40 AM radio stations. Black contemporary was rarely seen to include harder-edged, up-tempo styles almost exclusive identified with black artists and listeners such as rap, funk, and punk-punk (many BC acts, however, did incorporate elements of these genres). By the early 1990s, the "rhythm and blues" moniker had come back in fashion as a designation of mainstream African American pop material.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

Altantic Starr--"Circles" (1982); "Secret Lovers" (1986)

Boyz II Men--"End of the Road" (1991)

Peabo Bryson--"Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" (w/Roberta Flack) (1983); "If I Ever You're in My Arms Again" (1984)

Champagne--"How 'Bout Us" (1981); "Try Again" (1983)

Natalie Cole--"This Will Be" (1975); "Inseparable" (1976); "Sophisticated Lady" (1976); "I've Got Love on My Mind" (1977); "Our Love" (1978); "Someone That I Used to Love" (1980)

Tyrone Davis--"Can I Change My Mind" (1969); "Is It Something You've Got" (1969); "Turn Back the Hands of Time" (1970); "There It Is" (1973); "Give It Up" (1976)

DeBarge--"I Like It" (1983); "All This Love" (1983); "Time Will Reveal" (1983/4); "Rhythm of the Night" (1985); "Who's Holding Donna Now" (1985)

El DeBarge--"Who's Johnny" (1986)

Ronnie Dyson--"Why Can't I Touch You?" (1970); "One Man Band" (1973)

Richard "Dimples" Fields--"If It Ain't One Thing...It's Another" (1982)

Whitney Houston—"You Give Good Love" (1985); "Saving All My Love For You" (1985); "How Will I Know" (1986); "Greatest Love of All" (1985)

Phyllis Hyman--"Can't We Fall in Love Again" (1981)

Janet Jackson--"What Have You Done For Me Lately" (1986); "Nasty" (1986); "When I Think of You" (1986)

Michael Jackson--"Got to Be There" (1971); "Rockin' Robin" (1972); "I Wanna Be Where You Are" (1972); "Ben" (1972); "Just a Little Bit of You" (1975); "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (1979); "Rock With You" (1979); "Off the Wall"(1980); "She's Out of My Life" (1980); Thriller (1983); "Billie Jean" (1983)

Millie Jackson--"Ask Me What You Want" (1972); "Hurts So Good" (1973)

Quincy Jones--"Stuff Like That" (1978); "Ai No Corrida" (1981)

Kashif--"I Just Gotta Have You" (1983); "Baby Don't Break Your Baby's Heart" (1984); Love the One I'm With" (w/Melba Moore) (1986)

Chaka Khan--"I'm Every Woman" (1978); "I Feel For You" (1984)

Labelle(, Patti)--"Down the Aisle" (1963); "You'll Never Walk Alone" (1964); "Lady Marmalade" (1975); "New Attitude" (1985); "Oh, People" (1986)

Stacy Lattisaw--"Let Me Be Your Angel" (1980); "Love on a Two Way Street" (1981); "Miracle (1983)

Marie, Teena--"I Need Your Lovin'" (1981); "Lovergirl" (1985)

Stephanie Mills--"What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" (1979); "Never Knew Love Like This Before" (1980)

Melba Moore--"Love's Comin' at Ya" (1982); "Livin' For Your Love" (1984); "A Little Bit More" (1986); "Falling" (1986/7); "It's Been So Long" (1987)

The New Edition--"Cool It Now" (1984/5); "Mr. Telephone Man" (1985); "Earth Angel" (1986)

Jeffrey Osborne--"I Really Don't Need No Light" (1982); "On the Wings of Love" (1982); "Don't You Get So Mad" (1983); "Stay With Me Tonight" (1983/4); "The Borderlines" (1985); "You Should Be Mine" (1986)

Ray Parker, Jr./Raydio--"Jack and Jill" (1978); "You Can't Change That" (1979); "Two Places at the Same Time" (1980); "A Woman Needs Love" (1981); "That Old Song" (1981)

Teddy Pendergrass--"Close the Door" (1978); "Love T.K.O." (1980); "Joy" (1988)

The Pointer Sisters--"Yes We Can Can" (1973); "Fairytale" (1974); "How Long" (1975); "Fire" (1978/9); "Happiness" (1979); "He's So Shy" (1980); "Slow Hand" (1981); "Should I Do It" (1982); "American Music" (1982); "I'm So Excited" (1982; 1984)); "Automatic" (1984); "Jump" (1984); "Neutron Dance" (1984/5); "Dare Me" (1985)

Ray, Goodman and Brown--"Special Lady" (1980)

Lionel Richie/The Commodores--"Truly" (1982); "You Are" (1983); "My Love" (1983); "All Night Long" (1983); "Running With the Night" (1983/4); "Hello" (1984); "Stuck On You" (1984); "Penny Lover" (1984); "Say You, Say Me" (1985); "Dancing on the Ceiling" (1986); "Love Will Conquer All" (1986)

Patrice Rushen--"Forget Me Nots" (1982)

Tierra--"Together" (1980/1)

Luther Vandross--"Never Too Much" (1981); "'Til My Baby Comes Home" (1985)

Deniece Williams--"Free" (1977); "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" (1982); "Let's Hear It For the Boy" (1984)

Yarbrough and Peoples--"Don't Stop the Music" (1981)