The 10 Best Songs from ‘Empire,’ In Order

Jamal & Hakeem

Hakeem (Yazz) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) on Empire.

Courtesy of FOX

When it was announced that Timbaland would be executive music producer for FOX’s hip-hop-inspired soap opera, Empire, expectations were high. Longtime fans of the producer could assume if the show wasn’t going to be great, at least the music would be. But as Empire heads into its home stretch with only three episodes left after this week’s episode (which airs tonight, Wednesday, March 4, at 9 PM EST), it has turned out to be the exact opposite.

Empire is a bonafide television smash, with ratings growing each week. Meanwhile, the music has been hit or miss, with no genuine hit records coming from any of the episodes thus far. To date, the only tangible chart success has gone to Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal on the show. But any show in which Timbaland is in charge will still have some songs worth repeating long after the end credits have rolled. Below are the ten best songs thus far from the first season of Empire.

10. “Live in the Moment
Performers: Jamal and Hakeem
Episode: Pilot

One of the first song’s heard this season, “Live In The Moment,” was a promising indicator of what we would be in for musically, and it still holds up. The two young Lyons brothers showed their chemistry early on and have proven to be best when collaborating together.

9. “No Apologies”
Performers: Jamal and Hakeem
Episode: “The Outspoken King”

If those keys sound familiar, it’s because they also function as the show’s main theme song, but “No Apologies” wasn’t given justice until the final scene of episode two. This was when Hakeem and Jamal performed the song on stage and ripped the house down. The song is reminiscent of Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s “Holy Grail,” and has an epic build appropriate for the grandeur of Empire Entertainment.

8. “I Wanna Love You”
Performers: Jamal
Episode: “Out, Damned Spot”

Proving he isn’t one of those singers who needs to belt things from the top of his lungs, Jamal smooths it out and croons on this gentle two-stepper. “I Wanna Love You” has a timeless quality to it, sounding familiar and yet very fresh and different from most of Empire‘s R&B, which is bogged down in hip-hop. “I Wanna Love You” is a reminder that as much as Empire may be a hip-hop family, their roots are deep in rhythm and blues.

7. “Keep It Movin’
Performers: Teyana featuring Hakeem
Episode: “False Imposition”

The princess of Empire records is not slated to appear in anymore episodes this season, but Teyana‘s short time on the show delivered a couple of bangers, some of which made Hakeem more relevant than he could make himself. “Keep It Movin’” is an example of that. This was the type of song that made you believe Takeem (the celeb nickname given to Teyana and Hakeem on the show) were destined to tour the world together.

6. “Adios”
Performer: Teyana
Episode: “The Outspoken King”

If Rihanna would have recorded a song like this, she would have been accused of ripping off Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman;” that’s what we get from “Adios,” and that’s a good thing.

5. “Money For Nothing”
Performers: Jamal and Hakeem
Episode: “Our Dancing Days”

“Money For Nothing” was performed at a private concert for potential investors who were going to help Empire Entertainment go public. The performance showed the two Lyons brothers at the height of their powers: Hakeem’s raps improving greatly and Jamal’s powerhouse vocal prowess, contending with the song’s crunchy guitars. This song is proof the Lyons boys are only getting better.

4. “Can’t Truss ‘Em”
Performers: Hakeem
Episode: “Out, Damned Spot”

Up until this song, Hakeem seemed destined to have only one hit on the show at best, but when he plays “Can’t Truss ‘Em” for Anika and his father Lucious its seen as an instant hit. The marching band thumps and shouts are the kind of thing you’re likely to hear at the halftime show of an HBCU football game. Hakeem’s lyrics about being done wrong by a girl are perfect for all emotionally-stunted men looking to turn up without crying over lost love.

3. “Keep Your Money”
Performers: Jamal
Episode: “Dangerous Bonds”

It would not be surprising if it was revealed that the instrumental for “Keep Your Money” was actually a throwaway from a session between its real-life producer Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. Serving as both a diss song to Lucious, and a message about doing well without the support of other people, “Keep Your Money” can work in the clubs if it wasn’t so heavy on righteousness.

2. “Drip Drop”
Performers: Hakeem featuring Teyana
Episode: “Dangerous Bonds”

“Drip Drop” was the first sign that Empire can actually feature legitimate hit records. If someone like Tyga had a song like this, they’d rule a summer. The hook (“Drip, drop, drip drippity drop”) is an earworm if ever there was one and the beat sounds like something Timbaland would have given Missy Elliott. “Drip Drop” was the song that made viewers not only take Hakeem seriously, but also, the music of Empire.

1. “You’re So Beautiful”
Performers: Jamal
Episode: “The Lyon’s Roar”

It would be easy to put “You’re So Beautiful” at the top of the list because of its importance. After all, this was the jam in which Jamal decided to come out of the closet when singing, “this the kind of song that makes a man love a man.” But “You’re So Beautiful” is a bouncy, uproarious party-starter with enough elements to make people of all ages sing and dance along. Don’t be surprised if “You’re So Beautiful” gets spun at a white party in summer 2015.