CeeLo Green is an interesting artist. He has a Hip-Hop and Rap background and history, yet he has been able to make a seamless transition into a world of Soul, Alternative Rock, and Pop. It is not a typical journey, and no doubt one of the main reasons for this success is his incredible versatility both in his voice and as a songwriter.
His solo career has been interspersed with his collaboration with Danger Mouse in Gnarls Barkley. The band is now on hiatus, but CeeLo Green has continued to pursue a solo career around his work with Gnarls Barkley. My Top 10 CeeLo Green songs do not include any Gnarls Barkley songs. So, let’s get to it and take a look at the first song.
Top 10 CeeLo Green Songs
This seems like a good place to start, as “Fuck You” was easily CeeLo Green’s biggest hit. It came out in 2010 from his third solo studio album, The Lady Killer. The single was a huge success on just about every major chart in the world.
It went to #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. Sales were strong, with it going seven times platinum in the US and platinum in the UK. It also went multi-platinum in New Zealand and Australia. The Lady Killer also performed well, reaching #9 in the US and #3 in the UK. It went platinum in the UK and sold close to two million copies globally.
The song is about the pain of a breakup…
And it is a two-fingered gesture to the music industry. A very strong sentiment in both regards but one that was a bit too much for radio and TV. Consequently, CeeLo had to temper things down a little.
In response to many of his TV appearances and videos, he changes the words to “forget you” rather than the original, “fuck you.” Maybe not as effective in getting across the message, but it got him past the censors. Otherwise, the song would have been buried, and there would have been no message at all.
“Bright Lights Bigger City”
This is the second most successful song of CeeLo Green’s solo career. It was released in 2011 and was also taken from the fantastic album, The Lady Killer. The single got to #36 on the US Billboard charts and made it to #13 in the UK. Additionally, it also hovered around the Top 20 on all the major European charts.
It is a very catchy Soul song that has a strong groove and a hint of Disco thrown in the mix. There is a small section of rapping just after the halfway mark. But, frankly, I think it would have been better without it. The song is about a city boy who moves to the country and is amazed at the quality of the nightlife.
Over 20 years ago, when CeeLo Green was heavily involved in Hip-Hop and Rap, I never for one second thought he would change genres. His hook-up with Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley was surprising enough. However, if you had told me that he would one day be singing a classic Jimi Hendrix song, I would never have believed you.
“Foxy Lady” CeeLo Green-style was released in 2011 but not as a single. It was part of a Jimi Hendrix tribute album called The Power of Soul. It only reached #50 on the Billboard Independent Charts. A little surprising, given it featured other artists like Prince, Sting, Eric Clapton, Santana, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Regardless, a great effort by CeeLo, and I still cannot believe he released a Rock song.
“Fool For You”
“Fool For You” was released in 2011 as the fourth single from, The Lady Killer. Surprisingly, given the strength of the song, it failed to make it onto any major charts. Although, it did peak at #13 on the US R&B/Hip Hop Charts.
The song is a beautiful ballad that features the immensely talented vocals of singer Philip Bailey. It is a strong vocal performance from both artists. Although it went pretty much unrecognized by the buying public, it did not go unnoticed by his peers and the music critics. That is because it won two Grammys for Best R&B Song and Performance.
“Kung Fu Fighting”
I love this song and can remember watching the original on the UK chart show “Top of the Pops” back in 1974 when it was first released. It was originally written and performed by Carl Douglas and was essentially a Disco hit.
I loved it then, and I loved the CeeLo Green cover of “Kung Fu Fighting.” Also, I was particularly pleased that it was kept faithful to the original. It was recorded as part of the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack. Another great vocal performance from CeeLo Green, although I am not too sure about Jack Black’s contribution. The single saw little interest outside of Australia, where it got to #77.
“What Christmas Means to Me”
CeeLo Green never fails to amaze me. He is full of surprises and is one of those rare artists that you never quite know what he is going to do next. To cover this classic song is up there as one of the biggest shocks.
It was released in 2012 and taken from the album, CeeLo’s Magic Moment. Unfortunately, the single enjoyed very little success. Other than a couple of low placings on the US Billboard R&B Hip Hop Charts and the main Canadian Charts. That is a shame because CeeLo does a great job, and I think it should have done better.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside”
You cannot knock CeeLo Green’s Christmas credentials. Here is another great song that proves he is a man that loves the festive seasons and everything that goes with it. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was released in 2012 and was also taken from the album, CeeLo’s Magic Moment. Other than in Canada, where it got to #92, no love was shown for the single.
CeeLo hooked up with the incredible Christina Aguilera for the recording. They did a fantastic job, and the result was a song that felt like it came straight out of the 50s. CeeLo sounded more like Frank Sinatra than himself. And, frankly, when I first heard it, I was shocked at just how different his voice was. Just another example of what a versatile artist he is.
This was CeeLo Green’s debut single as a solo artist and marked his departure from the world of Hip-Hop and Rap. The song was written and recorded in 2002, which was the year before he got involved with Gnarls Barkley.
The song was included on CeeLo’s debut solo album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, which was a compilation album. The single charted at #98 in the US but failed to see success elsewhere.
There are a lot of different influences in this song, but I would best describe it as a Soul and Alternative track. However, a few elements of Hip-Hop and Rap are also in there. Considering his background as a musician, this is pretty much to be expected.
This song was released in 2012 and was taken from The Harder They Fall movie soundtrack. The movie was a modern twist of an American Western, which featured an all-black cast starring Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba.
It is a powerful and soulful song that deals with the oppression and struggles of black Americans. The song describes America as a place where the black community is routinely marginalized. Undoubtedly one of CeeLo’s best songs.
I am rounding off my Top 10 CeeLo Green songs list with this fantastic, upbeat Soul song. It was released in 2012 and was the fourth single to be taken from his album, The Lady Killer. The single was only released in the UK and Europe.
Subsequently, it got to #20 in the UK and had some success in the rest of Europe too. I am not sure why they chose not to release it in the US, and frankly, it seems a strange decision. The quality and style I would have thought would have been very popular in America.
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Top 10 CeeLo Green Songs – Final Thoughts
CeeLo Green has written and recorded so much great music. Consequently, choosing CeeLo Green’s Top 10 songs has been far from easy. Additionally, I have a feeling that many of you are going to disagree with my selection, and that is fine.
However, I hope you enjoyed my choices, and feel free to let me know of any glaring omissions in the comments below. I have a feeling that there could be quite a few.
Until next time, happy listening.