In the early ’80s Lionel Richie was one of the biggest music superstars in the world. Yes, he’s responsible for “Dancing On the Ceiling,” but nobody’s perfect. Nicole’s dad has an incredible musical catalog.
Best Lionel Richie songs of all-time:
10 You Are, 1983
The second single from Lionel Richie’s self-titled debut, the up-tempo “You Are” was a change of pace from the slower songs Richie usually recorded. Its wispy synths and catchy chorus make it a likable song to this day.
9 Stuck on You, 1984
“Stuck on You” was a ballad with broad cross-genre appeal. In addition to hitting #3 on the pop chart and #1 on the adult contemporary chart, it pulled off the near-impossible feat of reaching the top 30 on both the R&B and country charts.
8 Angel, 2000
Lionel hit the dance floor with “Angel,” his first good song in more than a decade. Richie’s modernized sound didn’t sound out of place at all. Just one cringe-worthy moment: When he rhymed “rain” with “again.”
7 Penny Lover, 1984
The fifth top ten hit from Can’t Slow Down, “Penny Lover” is so pleasant and easy-going it reminds me of a lot of James Taylor songs I could listen to a million times and never get sick of. Odd fact: “Penny Lover” was co-written by Richie and then-wife Brenda Harvey, who was later famously arrested for spousal abuse of her husband.
6 We are the World, 1985
This song raised millions for famine relief in Africa and would probably be at the top of the list, except that Richie co-wrote it with Michael Jackson, and word is that Jackson did most of the heavy lifting in that regard. But it does stand as one of Richie’s proudest achievements. Richie’s thumbs-up near the end of the music video perfectly summed up the whole project.
5 Endless Love (with Diana Ross), 1981
A gorgeous ballad that became Lionel’s biggest hit, notching nine weeks in the #1 spot. The subtle, restrained vocal performances of Richie and Diana Ross were impressive, in contrast to the 1994 remake by Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross, whose oversinging nearly ruined the song.
4 Running with the Night, 1983
“Running with the Night” features electric guitars co-mingling with urgent keyboard pulsing, creating a suspenseful vibe. It’s one of the best Lionel Richie songs of all-time, and having peaked at #7 on the pop chart, it might be his most underrated song as well.
3 Hello, 1984
Partly haunting and creepy, but partly sweet and yearning, “Hello” is notable for its dark, moody melody, its message of unfulfilled romantic longings, and its unforgettable music video, in which a blind woman sculpts a bust of Richie that – let’s be honest – looks nothing like him.
2 All Night Long, 1983
A nominee for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, “All Night Long” is perhaps Lionel Richie’s best-known song, thanks to its infectious party vibe. Richie famously performed the song at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
1 Still (with the Commodores), 1979
This Commodores ballad is one of the simplest songs Richie ever wrote, and that’s why it’s one of his best. When it comes to love songs, simple and direct is the way to go. This one is about as straightforward as it gets – just a piano and Lionel, earnestly baring his soul to a former flame. Later, strings finally come in and take the song to an emotional high.
Best Lionel Richie songs of all-time: Some that missed the cut
A few notable tunes do not appear on my list of the best Lionel Richie songs. The Commodores smash “Three Times a Lady” is a great tune and would probably be #11 on my list. Lionel’s solo ballad “Truly” isn’t far behind. “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “Say You, Say Me” were big hits but missed the list because they weren’t his best work.
“Easy” is a popular Commodores song but I’ve never cared for it. “Brick House” is a classic Commodores track that would certainly be on this list, except Richie didn’t write that one.