Best Songs from H.E.R.’s #BOMM for your R&B Playlist
Enjoy this following curated list of the 11 strongest tracks from H.E.R.’s Back of My Mind. Alongside brief analysis, we’ve aimed to distill the different moods of the album by suggesting the perfect kind of playlist each song should live in… Enjoy, and happy listening.
The #BOMM Vibe Guide
1. We Made It
Songs you catch flights to
They said I won’t come up with the family and cop a couple GRAMMY’s
All the things they said that I can’t be, revenge taste just like candy, yeah
And now we eating up in Paris with a view
Ooh, you know I always wanted to
Ooh, you know I always wanted you, wanted you
All those nights hopin’ that we’d find it
Lookin’ at the sky, like thank God that you’re with me
“We Made It” is an epic debut to the album. It features deliciously layered instrumentals, one of H.E.R.’s signature electric guitar solos, and a melodic piano outro. Combined with bass drops and H.E.R.’s soaring vocal range, “We Made It” exudes a feeling of grandeur.
H.E.R. is filled with wonder, celebrating her life’s blessings. She can hardly believe her success, at such a young age. At 19 years old, she wins Grammy awards for Best R&B Song and Best R&B album. At 21 years old, she wings 2 other Grammy’s for Song of the Year (I Can’t Breathe) and Best R&B Song (Better Than I Imagined). At 22 years, she goes to the next level, winning an Oscar for Best Original Song (Fight For You). Eventually, in 2021, she celebrates her 24th birthday accepting the award of Best Female R&B/Pop Artist at the BET Awards.
She remembers when she used to look up at the sky with her partner in crime, dreaming about everything that she has now attained. “We Made It” could be a soundtrack to a movie, the perfect song for that moment when time stops and gazes lock and fireworks explode in the background.
2. Back Of My Mind (ft Ty Dollar $ign)
Songs you subtweet to
Is that your new thing? That’s your new thing
Tell me are you into new things, into new things
The titular song of the album has a complicated emotional footprint: H.E.R. is a little angry at her ex and more than disappointed that they didn’t work out; but she is also a bit smug. Because she knows that in the back of his mind, she is still the “greatest of all time.” Sure, she never should have gotten involved with the guy— she gave him everything and received nothing but heartbreak in return. But at least she has the knowledge that no matter who he is with, he’ll always be comparing the new girl to H.E.R.
As if to quiet any skeptical listeners, Ty Dolla $ign sings in the background affirming that H.E.R. is right— she really is in the back of his mind. Whether it’s H.E.R.’s fantasy or reality? That’s up to the listener to decide.
3. Trauma (ft Cordae)
Songs you pour a drink to
Trauma is an extremely direct song packaged in a catchy beat. Through candid and brooding verses, H.E.R. and Cordae question the wider societal treatment of emotional vulnerability.
Cordae blesses the track with a classic hip hop sound right from the start as he explores the ugly side of public perception. Why does his sincerity and kindness so often get misunderstood and treated as weakness?
H.E.R. follows up with an equally raw tone:
So many things
Why I let it get to me
Like I know everything
But I don’t know anything
Think I need a drink
I just need to chill, maybe I need a shrink
Need to hear ‘em preach, and some inner peace
Sick of drama and bad energy, H.E.R. asks “is it worth it though?” and Cordae seamlessly responds with “Uh, was it worth it? I guess that is the question to ask…” And then he absolutely goes off. He launches into a searing rap where he talks about losing respect for someone who deceived him, being disappointed in the way these “parasitic absorbers” and “energy drainers” were brought up.
His words, chosen so carefully, wound way more than an angrier speech ever could— after all, we all know that facing someone’s disappoint is worse than facing their anger.
4. Damage (ft. Ant Clemons)
Songs you write poetry to
Either learn me or I’m a lesson, gone, no
In a Genius x Spotify feature on this song, H.E.R. explains that « Damage » is about vulnerability, about opening yourself to a person in the hopes that they won’t break your heart. Relationships take patience because you have to get to know the person and how they want to be loved. So a partner has two choices: either learn the other person, or lose them and have that experience serve as a lesson.
Soft piano keys end the song just like in “We Made It.” The notes slow things done and let the emotions settle, as if giving the listener a moment to reflect before the next track queues up.
5. Bloody Waters (ft Thundercat & KAYTRANADA)
Songs to burn incense to / Songs to put war paint on to
All I hear is sirens from every way…
can’t make no sense about it…
speculate, caution signs,
incriminate people’s minds
war and love don’t combine
destiny doesn’t roll the dice
watch your back, save me mine
under attack, spiritual kind
This song is a bit groovy in a dark way, a bit swaying, a bit smoky and ethereal, just like the image of blood curling through water. With a voice gliding over the sultry melody, H.E.R. sings that she feels like she’s drowning, like she’s running in slow motion and losing the race. And she isn’t just talking about herself— she is speaking in a collective sense.
She is bewildered by the “corporate racists” and the sickness of a modern system that prioritizes violence and profit over love and well being. Lamenting the fact that people don’t want to have real conversations about making a change, she declares that in fact times are not changing. There is a lack of leadership, a lack of protest, a lack of sense, and it makes her anxious to her core. It’s a song relevant to a moment where many of us feel heavy with the weight of the inequality and suffering around us, but unsure where to start healing a problem that has has hundreds of roots.
6. Cheat Code
Songs to burn photos of your ex to / Songs for a night drive to nowhere
I’m wondering why
Why you stayin’ out so late
Too much for me to contemplate
This soulful, rich track layers acoustics and jazz orchestrations with delicious beats. It might be the most well executed song about cheating since Beyonce’s « Sorry »— and those are big heels to fill.
Songs to groove to under city lights
You already know what time it is don’t need a Rolex
This one is just über cool. H.E.R.’s expressive voice hits all the right highs and lows, grooving in between hi-hats and snaps and bass drops. “Process” demands attention.
8. Hold On
Songs to sway to in the kitchen
And if i hold on to you
I’m only hurting me
“Hold On” is arguably the most gorgeous song on the album. The electric guitar returns, which is a bit unexpected on such a mellifluous number— but somehow the guitar’s edge creates a superb contrast to H.E.R.’s smooth voice. It is a song of acceptance. Instead of living in a fantasy H.E.R. sees her relationship for what it is and confronts her partner. “Hold On” manages to demonstrate emotional maturity while still resonating with a rawness that holds the listener transfixed.
9. Hard To Love
Songs to belt out in the shower
But take it easy on me, baby
I know that I crossed a line
I’m hard to please, but baby
Real love is so hard to find
The acoustic guitar in “Hard To Love” gives off a cowgirl energy that works with her raspy, world-weary tone in the song. The simple strumming of strings complements the beauty of H.E.R.’s voice by making it seem incredibly near and full.
10. For Anyone
Songs for rainy days
I remember the times when you and i would hide
and no one else found it funny
and only you would know
I’m better with you and it shows
because the way you loved me
“For Anyone” is exquisite and soft. It is watching water drops run down a window pane, the whisper of slippers on a cold kitchen floor, a lone glass of wine.
11. Slide ft YG
Songs to blast out the window / Songs to get ready to with the girls
You always wear them glasses,
you don’t want no sucker to look you in the eyes?
you betta show them eyelashes…
Apparently the first time H.E.R. met rapper YG he made a comment about her glasses as they were walking past each other at Coachella. That cheekiness stuck with her, and YG came to mind when she was looking for a West Coast artist to feature on “Slide.”
“Slide” is H.E.R.’s tribute to her hometown of Vallejo, California. « People in the Bay always say ‘I’m finna slide’.' » H.E.R. explained in a Genius x Spotify interview. « That’s just the lingo, you know? …Where are we going? What are we doing? »
She wanted to create something unexpected, something that had a Bay Area vibe, and so “Slide” is imbued with the urgency of living in the moment. It was tricky for H.E.R. to come up with melodies as the style was outside of the singer’s comfort zone. But ultimately she realized she couldn’t think too much about it; it was better to just feel it. The result is a fun and swaggy song coated in H.E.R.’s fondness for her home:
I grew up seeing people ghost-riding the whip and doing donuts in these amazing blue, purple, different-colored cars. I never got a candy-painted ride unfortunately. But my ride is matte black, which I think is more me— a little bit more mysterious and cool.H.E.R. Genius x Spotify for Slide
She is undoubtedly mysterious and cool, yes— but also vulnerable and sensitive. Perhaps no one does that contradictory combination better than silver-tongued H.E.R.