The Best Lionel Richie Songs

Lionel Richie
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"All Night Long (All Night)" - 1983

Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)
Lionel Richie - "All Night Long (All Night)". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie became a pop and R&B star in the 1970s as lead vocalist for the Commodores. They had hits with funk songs like "Brick House" and the ballads "Three Times a Lady," "Sail On," and "Still." In 1981 Lionel Richie had a #1 pop hit with the Diana Ross duet "Endless Love" from the movie of the same name. He followed that with his solo debut album the next year and left the Commodores to pursue his solo career. These are his 10 best hit songs as a solo artist.

For "All Night Long (All Night)" from the Can't Slow Down album Lionel Richie combined soul with Caribbean sounds. He has said the sound was influenced by his vacations to the Caribbean. Film director Bob Rafelson put together the music video that accompanies the song. "All Night Long (All Night)" hit #1 across the pop, R&B, and adult contemporary charts. Lionel Richie was chosen to perform "All Night Long (All Night)" at the closing ceremonies for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The song is the lead single from the album Can't Slow Down and represents Lionel Richie at the peak of his solo career. Can't Slow Down hit #1 on the album chart, sold more than ten million copies, and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It spent more than a year in the top 10 of the album chart. Lionel Richie re-recorded "All Night Long (All Night)" with Jimmy Buffett for his 2012 album Tuskegee.

The primary lyrics of "All Night Long (All Night)" are in English. There is a section of "African" lyrics that Lionel Richie has said are actually made up gibberish. They include the lines "Tom bo li de say de moi ya" and "Jambo jumbo." In an interview with CNN, Lionel Richie said, "What I try to write about are real events. There will always be an easy like Sunday morning. There will always be an endless love. There will always be an all night long."

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"Say You, Say Me" - 1985

Lionel Richie - Say You Say Me
Lionel Richie - "Say You Say Me". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie wrote and recorded "Say You, Say Me" for the soundtrack to the movie White Nights. Unfortunately, it wasn't available on the official soundtrack album because Motown didn't want the single appearing on a record for another label. It was Lionel Richie's first single after the massive success of his Can't Slow Down album, and Motown wanted the credit for their label.  

The song earned Lionel Richie's second Academy Award nomination and his first victory. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. "Say You, Say Me" is one of Lionel Richie's biggest hit singles going to #1 on the pop, R&B, and adult contemporary charts. "Say You, Say Me" was ultimately included on the Dancing On the Ceiling album. The album hit #1 and sold four million copies. 

He re-recorded the song with Jason Aldean for his 2012 album Tuskegee. The album was a surprise return to #1 on the album chart for Lionel Richie for the first time in over 25 years. The European edition of Tuskegee includes a duet with Danish pop singer Rasmus Seebach on "Say You, Say Me." Their collaboration reached #3 on the Denmark pop singles chart. 

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"Stuck On You" - 1984

Lionel Richie - Stuck On You
Lionel Richie - "Stuck On You". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie wears a cowboy hat on the single cover for "Stuck On You" to acknowledge the strong influence of country music in the song. "Stuck On You" accomplished the rare feat for its time of being a hit on pop, R&B, and country charts. It was Lionel Richie's debut on the country chart even though strong arguments could be made that country music was a major influence on Lionel Richie's songs dating back at least to the Commodores' 1977 hit "Easy."

"Stuck On You" was most successful with adult contemporary audiences going all the way to #1 becoming his seventh #1 on the adult contemporary chart. "Stuck On You" was the fourth single released from the album Can't Slow Down and became the fourth of five top 10 pop hits from the collection. Lionel Richie re-recorded "Stuck On You" with country singer Darius Rucker for his 2012 album Tuskegee.

In 2003, the R&B trio 3T, made up of the sons of Tito Jackson, of the Jackson 5, recorded "Stuck on You" for their album Identity. It missed the charts in the US, but it was a top 10 pop hit in France and the Netherlands. A reggae cover of "Stuck On You" by British vocalist Trevor Walters reached the top 10 on the UK pop singles chart in 1984 just months after the original.

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"You Are" - 1983

Lionel Richie - You Are
Lionel Richie - "You Are". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie co-wrote "You Are" with his wife Brenda Harvey Richie. This was Lionel Richie's second single from his self-titled debut album, and Richard Marx performs background vocals as a session singer. Country singer Kenny Rogers also appears in the backing vocal mix as well as tennis star Jimmy Connors. "You Are" was a top 5 hit on the pop and R&B singles charts and went all the way to #1 on the adult contemporary chart. The song signaled that Lionel Richie could leave the world of Commodores funk like "Brick House" behind and dive deep into the pop mainstream. Lionel Richie re-recorded "You Are" with Blake Shelton for his 2012 album Tuskegee. As his second consecutive top five smash, "You Are" established Lionel Richie as a major solo pop star.

The self-titled album was released while Lionel Richie was still officially a member of the Commodores. It climbed to #3 on the US album chart, was certified quadruple platinum for sales, and it also reached the top 10 on the UK album chart.

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"Truly" - 1982

Lionel Richie - Truly
Lionel Richie - "Truly". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie's solo career began with "Truly." He wrote the song and co-produced it with his frequent production collaborator in the Commodores James Anthony Carmichael. "Truly" is a big ballad and reached #1 on the pop and adult contemporary charts and spent nine weeks at #2 on the R&B chart. Lionel Richie won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal for "Truly." It is the first single from his self-titled debut album. The album was a #3 chart hit and ultimately sold more than four million copies. It included guest appearances by guitar player Joe Walsh of the Eagles and synthesizer pop musician Thomas Dolby.

James Anthony Carmichael left the Commodores when Lionel Richie left. He was co-producer of all of Lionel Richie's big solo hits. Lionel Richie pointedly thanked James Anthony Carmichael when he accepted his first American Music Award in 1984. James Anthony Carmichael also produced three consecutive albums by the R&B group Atlantic Starr in the early 1980s.

In the accompanying music video, Lionel Richie performs "Truly" on the piano. In 1998, British singer Steven Houghton covered "Truly" and he hit #23 on the UK pop singles chart. 

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"Endless Love" with Diana Ross - 1981

Diana Ross and Lionel Richie - Endless Love
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie - "Endless Love". Courtesy Motown

Lionel Richie wrote and recorded "Endless Love" as a duet with Diana Ross for the movie Endless Love. It kicked off Lionel Richie's emergence as an individual artist separate from the group the Commodores. The song reached #1 on the pop singles chart and stayed there for nine weeks becoming the 18th #1 hit of Diana Ross' career, her biggest hit, and her final #1. It also went to #1 on the R&B and adult contemporary charts. "Endless Love" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song From a Motion Picture. Billboard named "Endless Love" as the top pop duet of all time. Lionel Richie has stated that the recording process was rushed and put together while both he and Diana Ross were on their way to other projects. 

Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey reached #2 with their version of the song in 1994. They earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Lionel Richie re-recorded "Endless Love" with Shania Twain for his 2012 album Tuskegee. Their version reached #12 on the adult contemporary chart. Diana Ross recorded a solo version of "Endless Love" for her album Why Do Fools Fall In Love. "Endless Love" was also covered on the hit TV show Glee.

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"Running With the Night" - 1983

Lionel Richie - Running With the Night
Lionel Richie - "Running With the Night". Courtesy Motown

"Running With the Night" was co-written by Lionel Richie with legendary pop songwriter Cynthia Weil. She is best known for the string of 1960s pop hits written with her husband Barry Mann including "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "On Broadway." It was released as the second single from the album Can't Slow Down. The album Can't Slow Down was the biggest of Lionel Richie's solo career. It hit #1 on the album chart, generated five top 10 pop hit singles, and was given a diamond certification for selling ten million copies. It was also the bestselling album in the history of Motown Records and earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Richard Marx performed session backup vocals on "Running With the Night." The guitar solo was created by Steve Lukather of the band Toto. He improvised his contribution to the recording in the studio. Along with Michael Jackson's legendary Thriller album, "Running With the Night" was seen as a rare fusion of rock music with R&B.

Some adult contemporary radio stations edited out the guitar solo to make the song less rock sounding. Bob Giraldi, who directed Michael Jackson's famed "Beat It!" video, directed the clip that accompanies "Running With the Night." The song reached the top 10 on the pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts as well as the pop singles chart in the UK. Rihanna sampled "Running With the Night" on her song "Push Up On Me" recorded for the 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad.

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"My Love" - 1983

Lionel Richie - Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie - Lionel Richie. Courtesy Motown

"My Love" was the third single from Lionel Richie's self-titled debut solo album and it peaked at #5 on the pop chart becoming his third consecutive top 10 pop hit. It features guest backing vocals from country singer Kenny Rogers and represents another connection with country music. Lionel Richie had previously collaborated with Kenny Rogers by writing and producing the country singer's #1 pop hit "Lady" in 1980. In addition to its pop chart success, "My Love" hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart and the top 10 on the R&B singles chart. Lionel Richie re-recorded "My Love" with country singer Kenny Chesney for his 2012 album Tuskegee.

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"Hello" - 1984

Lionel Richie - Hello
Lionel Richie - "Hello". Courtesy Motown

This ballad was the third single from Lionel Richie's third album Can't Slow Down. It became one of his biggest hit singles topping pop, R&B, and adult contemporary charts as well as the UK pop singles chart. Lionel Richie co-wrote the song with James Anthony Carmichael, his musical collaborator from his days with the Commodores. "Hello" was written for Lionel Richie's first solo album, but he left it off. His wife convinced him to include it on the second album.

The song was the subject of a lawsuit brought by songwriter Marjorie Hoffman White who claimed "Hello" plagiarized her song "I'm Not Ready To Go." The line "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" inspired the song when Lionel Richie said it as a greeting. He has said he thought the song was corny at first, but when he finished the verse, he fell in love with it. One frustrating legacy for Lionel Richie from the song is that he says he is asked, "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" everywhere he goes.

The music video, directed by Bob Giraldi, who also directed Michael Jackson's "Beat It," is memorable in its depiction of Lionel Richie discovering a blind woman shares his feelings about her when he sees she is sculpting his head out of clay. Actress Laura Carrington played the woman. She later starred in the soap opera General Hospital. Lionel Richie re-recorded the song with Jennifer Nettles for his 2012 album Tuskegee. In 2011 singer Berto La Voz released a Latin version of "Hello" that reached #11 on the tropical songs chart.

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"Dancing On the Ceiling" - 1986

Lionel Richie - Dancing On the Ceiling
Lionel Richie - "Dancing On the Ceiling". Courtesy Motown

"Dancing On the Ceiling" is the title song from Lionel Richie's third solo album, his second consecutive #1 collection. It was a top 10 hit across the pop, R&B and adult contemporary genres. The song's video referenced Fred Astaire's classic ceiling dance routine from the 1951 film Royal Wedding. The video was directed by the film's director Stanley Donen. He claimed that Lionel Richie adjusted to the rotating room used for the video faster than Fred Astaire did. It was one of the most expensive music videos filmed up to that time. It reportedly cost somewhere between $350,000 and $500,000. Rodney Dangerfield and Cheech Marin make guest appearances. A 30 minute HBO TV special Lionel Richie: The Making Of Dancing On the Ceiling was released to help publicize the song. Lionel Richie re-recorded the song with Rascal Flatts for his 2012 album Tuskegee.

"Dancing On the Ceiling" was one of four top 10 pop hits from the album of the same name. It was Lionel Richie's third consecutive album to sell four million or more copies, and it was his last solo studio album for ten years. After promoting Dancing on the Ceiling, Lionel Richie was exhausted by his schedule and took time off to care for his ailing father at home in Alabama.