“Finally” by CeCe Peniston (1991)

Over the years, so many of the best dance songs have been made by either queer men or leather-lunged big-boned Black women. CeCe Peniston was the latter. She wasn’t just a powerful voice, though. Unlike most dance divas (who are generally hired to front a song written by a male producer), CeCe wrote the lyrics to her biggest hit, “Finally”. The lyrics describe the feeling of falling in love with the perfect person after a long period of searching. Those lyrics were super relatable to dance club denizens, many of whom went out on Saturday nights to look for love (or a temporary version of it) as much as they went out to have a good time. The song was aspirational for a lot of people, which I think helped its success. It also had an irresistible, pounding house beat. For a period of time in late ’91/early ’92, “Finally” felt inescapable on the radio. I was a little surprised to find out that the song didn’t even make the top 30 on Billboard‘s R&B chart (it was a much bigger pop hit, peaking at #5), but now that I give it some thought, “urban” radio in New York City was probably a little more comfortable with playing dance music than a lot of the rest of the country was.

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