Remembering Aaliyah

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years, to the day, since Aaliyah's untimely death. I spent a lot of time in high school listening to her music, crossing my fingers that "Back and Forth" would come on TV while I was babysitting, and wishing that I could be as cool as her (remember how cool she was with her baggy pants and sunglasses?), and though I've never come close to achieving her coolness, I still love her songs. Unlike some of the music I liked back then (sorry, Quad City DJs), her sound stands the test of time.

Like so many musicians and artists who die so young (she was just 22 when her plane crashed), we can only imagine what Aaliyah's career would look like now. Considering how self-possessed and strong she already was at such a young age, I can only guess that she'd have gone on to do even bigger and better things for women in the industry.

Check out the video for "Are You That Somebody?" (especially if you're one of these young whippersnappers who are too young to remember this when it came out). Aaliyah is so charismatic and powerful that you hardly notice the dopey Eddie Murphy clips playing in the background:

(Song lyrics here)

And the video for "Rock the Boat," released after Aaliyah's death. Again, her presence is enough to elevate the cheesiest of cheesiness (though I swear that walking-on-water effect was cool when this came out):

(Song lyrics here)

Aaliyah's music continues to influence pop and R&B singers working today. Though we don't know where the next 10 years will take us (seriously, who would've predicted Lady Gaga in 2001?), I'm willing to bet that people keep turning to her music for inspiration and ideas. Maybe her sunglasses-and-baggy-pants look will even make a comeback, though I doubt anyone else could pull it off.

Further reading:

Miss You, Aaliyah by Alyx Vesey of Feminist Music Geek:

They [Aaliyah and Selena] also seemed to have a lot of self-respect. Both women were sexy, but refused to be degraded or turned into objects. They seemed in control of their sexuality. They knew girls were watching them, and they also knew to save some of themselves from the public eye. Like Janet Jackson before them and Beyoncé after, they made self-possession sexy.

Damon Dash Remembers Aaliyah: "I Would Do It All Over Again" by Leslie Pitterson of Clutch Magazine:

Hearing Dash talk about his time with Aaliyah, it's undeniable how he felt about her. It's also undeniable that fans will keep a little piece of baby girl's spirit with them too.

Aaliyah: 10 years later, impact holds without posthumous releases by Gerrick D. Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times:

Aaliyah might not have left behind the wealth of music that other fallen artists have, but what she did leave was enough for those who remember her.

by Kelsey Wallace
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