It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since Aaliyah passed away, particularly since her work continues to resonate with so many people worldwide. The singer had an undeniable talent for creating music that was both timeless and lyrically strong. Which is why it's such a difficult task to pick out one Aaliyah song as the best. But in my opinion, the best Aaliyah song is "Try Again," because of its inspirational lyrics and flawless sound. Recorded for the soundtrack to Romeo Must Die, in which Aaliyah starred opposite Jet Li, "Try Again" has an unforgettable music video and an empowering message. With an intro by Timbaland, there's a lot to love about the single, and it's hardly surprising its still at the top of so many people's playlists.
Having made the transition from music to acting, Aaliyah had such a bright future ahead of her, especially since her performances in Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned had been so well-received. But first and foremost, Aaliyah was an award-winning musician, and the fact that her songs have stood the test of time proves just how talented she was. In many ways, "Try Again" doesn't sound like a song released in 2000, and could easily belong to the contemporary era. It's unsurprising that "Try Again" was nominated for a Grammy in 2001, and won two MTV Music Video Awards in 2000.
"Try Again" is so understated. Despite having such a recognizable dance routine and music video (which has been referenced in shows like The Mindy Project), the song itself is never over the top. The production is simple and pared back, giving listeners the chance to really hear Aaliyah's vocals. Timbaland complements Aaliyah's voice, and helps make the song catchy without it getting repetitive. But the main reason that "Try Again" is the best Aaliyah song is that the lyrics are so relatable.
Lyrically, the song is an anthem about never giving up, whether it be in relationships or life. The main message of the chorus is totally inspirational, with Aaliyah singing, "If at first you don't succeed, Dust yourself off, and try again." It's the perfect song to listen to when you feel like there's no hope left or you're not quite sure what to do next. Without being pushy, "Try Again" is a reminder that however many times you get knocked down, it's time to get back up again.
The verses of "Try Again" focus on a relationship, and are all about how to approach something new and unexpected. Aaliyah sings, "You know our chemistry, it's off the chain. It's perfect now, but will it change?" Instead of a typical pop song expecting a relationship to be the perfect love story, Aaliyah interrogates those initial romantic feelings you get in a relationship, and is realistic about them. This makes the song so empowering, and a total feminist anthem. Aaliyah refuses to give any guarantees or play an expected romantic role. When she sings, "This ain't a yes, this ain't a no. Just do your thang, and we'll see how it goes," it perfectly sums up the way a strong woman can approach a relationship -- by not getting carried away, as fairy tale narratives or stereotypical pop songs might suggest.
I love "Try Again," and the song's timelessness is truly a testament to Aaliyah's talent.