Ten years on from her tragic death, tributes pour in for this remarkable R&B star whose music sounds just as fresh today
It's 10 years to the day since we lost Aaliyah. The singer was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas aged 22, on her way home from filming the music video for her single Rock the Boat. Her death seemed all the more tragic for the fact that Aaliyah was pushing a minimalist and futuristic sound that far surpassed anything she ? or her peers ? had done before.
Her third, eponymous album came out a month before she died, but if it was released today it would still sound startlingly fresh. Producer Timbaland hasn't come close to creating anything as sonically stunning since, although it's likely his success on this record was responsible for the commercial peaks he reached with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. From We Need a Resolution's odd, skittish argument with a bad boyfriend to the gentle soul of I Care 4 U, it's pop music in a different league, as playful as it is inventive.
As friends and fans tweet tributes today, linking to videos of tracks that meant the most to them, it's remarkable not only that few chose the same song, but also how different and complex each track is. The music was rarely smooth ? famously, Timbaland makes use of a baby's cry for the percussive drive of Are U That Somebody?. Such starkness has had a lasting and far-reaching effect on music ? not just shaping the direction of singers such as Cassie and Ciara but also reaching out to everyone from Dirty Projectors to the xx to Gossip.
Even 10 years after her death, the feeling that, were she still alive, Aaliyah would still be releasing remarkable music, has not yet subsided, and maybe it never will.