My Definitive Ranking of Silk Sonic Songs

My love for Anderson .Paak is well documented. If you search this site long enough you’ll find post after post filled with me singing the man’s praises. He was behind two of my three favorite albums of the 2010s (NxWorries’ Yes Lawd! and his solo breakthrough Malibu) as well as the greatest song of the 21st century, maybe ever. In the storied history of NPR Tiny Desk performances, his is the most watched and the best. My Mount Rushmore of music is D’Angelo, Prince, Erykah Badu, and Anderson .Paak. I think that highly of the man.

My feelings for Bruno Mars are not as clear. His talent is unquestionable. He has one of the most flawless voices I’ve ever heard. There isn’t a thing he can’t sing perfectly. His music was never my favorite, but every time I saw him perform live I was mesmerized. Then he released 24K Magic in 2016 and gave me the New Jack Swing revival record I never knew I needed. I couldn’t believe a brand new album could make me yearn for the days of Guy and Bobby Brown, a musical era that I thought I’d closed the door on decades ago. Seriously, listen to “Calling All My Lovelies” and tell me it wouldn’t have fit right in with the slow jams on Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel. That’s not a compliment I just hand out to anyone. “Roni” might be the best slow jam of that era and I put “Calling All My Lovelies” in that category. Yep. This is serious.

When I discovered with the rest of the music world that .Paak and Mars would be teaming up to form Silk Sonic I had concerns. It would introduce .Paak to Bruno’s much larger audience, but at what cost? Would he have to sacrifice everything that makes him unique to blend in with Bruno’s more pop-friendly style? The lead single, “Leave the Door Open” dropped in March of 2021 and remained unavoidable for most of the year. It wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was damn good old school soul music and definitely had .Paak’s comedic sensibility. The kind of music you don’t hear in the 2020s. So good it earned Silk Sonic Record of the Year and Song of the Year Grammys. By that summer I was dying for more. My kids and I were parked at the very computer where I’m typing right now at 11:00 PM on a Thursday night in late-July that year to see the video for the second single, “Skate” when it dropped. My oldest daughter hasn’t stopped listening to it. The album finally dropped in November of 2021, and I had to wait until August of 2022 to finally get my hands on a vinyl version of it.

26 months after the release of “Leave the Door Open” I can say that Silk Sonic has given me my favorite album of the decade thus far. It’s still one of my go-to albums when I’m looking for something to listen to, so it has staying power with me. I get the most mileage out of it when I’m with my kids as it’s the rare popular album that we all agree on. In an era where my daughters’ playlists are filled with music by people who I’ve dubbed “half-ass singers” it’s refreshing to hear Mars and .Paak, who can actually really sing. No offense to cats like Steve Lacy or Rex Orange County – whoever the hell he is – but they sound like they’re half ass singing. Like they could sing but they’re too cool and/or lazy to try that hard so instead they end up doing something that sounds like 10% rapping, but they’re not good rappers. They actually can sing but don’t want to put in the effort most of the time. By the way, easily the best half-ass singing song I’ve ever heard is “Orange Girl” by Dreamer Boy, but my daughter doesn’t seem to put that in her rotation because her dad recommended it. I can’t say I blame her. No kid wants to approach her friends like, “Hey, check out this song my dad played for me!”

I’m straying far from my point, which seems to be my signature move. Silk Sonic’s popularity surprises me because I find them far more talented than most of their so-called peers. The same way it shocks the hell out of me when people freak out every time a new Kendrick Lamar album drops. His hip hop is so much better than anyone else popular right now that I don’t understand how people like him. Who listens to Kendrick Lamar and Moneybagg Yo? They’re not even the same genre as far as I’m concerned.

So, yeah…what I wanted to do was rank the Silk Sonic songs because it’s a frequent topic of conversation with my kids. Not sure how I wandered so far from that objective, but here we are. Silk Sonic’s lone album – An Evening With Silk Sonic – contains a one-minute intro followed by eight songs. The whole album barely clocks in at 30 minutes. For Valentine’s Day of 2022 they also released a remake of Con Funk Shun’s 1982 jam “Love’s Train“. It was added to streaming versions of An Evening With Silk Sonic as the ninth track. It’s also included in the vinyl pressing that was purchased from the Silk Sonic website – the version I own – so I’m going to include it in my ranking. I am not including the “Intro” track, which is not a proper song. That means I have nine songs to rank, which I’ll do right now. I look forward to many arguments.

9. Put on a Smile
I’ll start by saying this: I enjoy every song on this album including this one. However, this is the only one I find myself occasionally skipping. Maybe it’s the lyrical content. I’m not always in the mood for a heartbreak song. Compared to the rest of the album I find this song a bit flat. I have no more “Put on a Smile” analysis, and maybe that’s the problem. It’s just fine. A perfectly nice song.

8. Love’s Train
A rare remake that improves on the original…yet this is the one other song on the album I put in the same category with “Put On a Smile”. I’m glad they made it and added it to an album that was painfully short, but it’s the other song on the album that doesn’t quite live up to the rest for me. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t found myself attempting to belt this one out in my car from time to time. It does mean that every song from this point on is on another level. Nothing but classics from this point forward.

7. Leave the Door Open
A classic case of just hearing the same song too damned many times. As I mentioned above, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song in 2021. Add to it the fact that I was dying to hear anything by Silk Sonic at that time, so I just kept playing the same song over and over. Every awards show was another performance of the same song (see the link above). It’s a certified classic worthy of every award and bit of praise it’s received. I just need a break.

6. 777
Anderson .Paak’s drumming on this track is world class. I’m pretty sure the entire second verse is a fill if that’s possible. I love it when you never know what a drummer is gonna do next, and that’s easily the best part of this song for me. I can’t help but imagine that “777” has likely become an anthem for every penis paraphernalia wearing bachelorette party and douchebag Vince Vaughn-in-Swingers wannabe who hits the strip in Vegas now and that bums me out a little bit every time I hear it.

5. After Last Night (feat. Bootsy Collins and Thundercat)
This track brings the nasty that the previously listed slow jams don’t. There’s an urgency and dramatic buildup in this song the others don’t have. This might be a slow jam, but it’s funky as hell. It also does more with Bruno Mars’ outrageous vocal talent that the other tracks listed so far. To top it off, the song is littered with flawless harmonies. This is easily the sexiest slow jam I’ve heard in years.

4. Skate
Much to my daughter Phoebe’s chagrin, “Skate” could only climb to #4 on my list. This song is insanely infectious and fun. It’s like Silk Sonic bottled up the vibe from an amazing summertime party and converted it to music. Anderson .Paak opens the song with perhaps my favorite lyric on the entire album singing, “In a room full of dimes you would be a hundred dollars. If being fine was a crime, girl they’d lock your little fine ass up in a tower.” The bridge at the 2:11 mark of the song is the epitome of feel-good music. It’s impossible to hear this song and be unhappy. It also reminds me of my Phoebe, which always puts a smile on my face.

3. Smokin Out the Window
To be honest, take these next two in either order. Both brilliant. “Smokin Out the Window” is the rare fun heartbreak song. It’s so catchy and enjoyable you almost forget that they’re singing about a girl that hurt them. On an album loaded with super slow jams, this one wins. It’s everything I mentioned about the slow songs above, but better. Better melody. Better harmonies. Better lyrics. Better comedy (“I also hope that your trifling ass is walking around barefoot in these streets”). This song is just better than pretty much everything. Yet I only have it #3…

2. Fly As Me
It should surprise nobody that the song that’s essentially an Anderson .Paak solo track is this high on my list. Not since the days of Clyde Stubblefield have I heard drumming this funky. Anderson .Paak puts on an absolute hi-hat clinic. Listen to this track, focus on the drumming – specifically the hi-hat – and give AP his respect. I’ve considered myself a drummer at heart for most of my life and regret not pursuing that when I was young enough to do such things, but this song makes me want to get a drum set and start learning every single time I hear it. By the way, what’s cooler than Anderson .Paak talking shit about how cool he is? If I was a baseball player this is the song I’d have playing when I approach the plate. I feel invincible when this song is playing.

1. Blast Off
Probably a surprise that I’m not a drug user but a song that’s clearly about getting high is my favorite track on the album. This song is just so goddamned lovely. Nothing musically outstanding is happening on this track. There’s no one specific thing I can point to on this song to say, “This is why ‘Blast Off’ is the best,” yet it’s just the best and I won’t accept your counterargument. When AP opens the song with, “Clouds are blowing, don’t know where we’re going,” I feel tears welling. It’s just so gorgeous. The harmonies with the ethereal background singing, strings, and trippy sound effects are magical. I can damn near feel myself floating when I hear this song, but it’s not scary. It’s warm and peaceful and beautiful. I don’t know where they got the idea for “Blast Off” (likely something they ingested, right?) or why they did it, but this song makes me so happy that Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars made Silk Sonic. No way either of them makes this amazing masterpiece alone. Adding to the ecstatic vibe is the fact that it’s the final song on the album and I doubt these two will ever make music together again, meaning this is the last time I’ll hear them sing together. It’s the same way I feel when I hear the equally gorgeous “Another Life” that closes D’Angelo’s 2014 Black Messiah. I may never hear music from these people again. This is the end. I’m saying goodbye. It’s bittersweet. But what a way to end an album.

That’s it. Nine fantastic songs. One definitive ranking. Tell me I’m wrong. I’ll ignore you while patiently waiting for Anderson .Paak’s next project.

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