Amirah Mercer
November 18, 2014 11:16 am

Watching Lifetime’s Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B this weekend was pretty cringe. As a lifelong Aaliyah fan, I couldn’t help but think that the new generation of fans watching — those who were introduced to Aaliyah’s music after her passing — were being duped. Instead of walking away with an understanding of how magical her voice and presence really were, all the Lifetime movie left us with was whiplash from their criminally weird casting choices. (So horrendous were their choices for R. Kelly and Missy Elloitt that Twitter hilariously mocked the network’s casting with the trending hashtag #Lifetimebelike.)

The made-for-TV movie was doomed from the start. Without approval from Aaliyah’s family and estate, the filmmakers couldn’t use any of her original music, which meant that actress Alexandra Shipp (who played Aaliyah) had to cover some of her songs. While Shipp has a lovely voice, it’s basically impossible to outdo Aaliyah. After two hours of suffering through this flop of a flick, I felt there had to be a better way to honor Aaliyah’s important legacy.

Indeed, I can think of many ways to celebrate how amazing Aaliyah truly was that have nothing to do with that Lifetime movie:

Celebrating her voice

Aaliyah revived this tune, originally recorded in 1976 by The Isley Brothers, as the second single off her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. You can’t listen to “At Your Best (You Are Love)” and not get goosebumps. It is one of the sweetest displays of Aaliyah’s vocal ability. .

Admiring her confidence

Today’s Hollyweird sees some of your favorite stars altering their appearance or their body drastically in order to fit in a some made up ideal of beauty. Aaliyah always stuck out to me as someone who was comfortable in her own skin. Aaliyah embraced her body with no apologies, and oozed confidence, and sex appeal without even trying.

Paying homage to her style

Aaliyah is and was a style icon. Models and celebrities still imitate her look in fashion shoots and if you take one look at fashion blogs, you’ll see her sexy tomboy cool is a constant source of fashion inspiration for even today’s most popular street-style get ups.

Being wowed by her acting chops

When I think of the movie Queen of the Damned, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t vampires, Lestat, or Anne Rice. It’s THAT WALK. Aaliyah solidified her place as an actress on the rise in Hollywood and she was well on her way to being a triple threat.

Gushing over her edge

One in a Million, released in 1996, was Aaliyah’s second album and her breakout. The music video for the song of the same name officially put Aaliyah on the map. From her actually hypnotic dance moves, to her classic hair swoop and tomboy style, she instantly became the girl we all wanted to be.

Basking in the glow of her cool

Aaliyah made movie soundtracks cool to listen to. I know I’m not the only one who bought the Doctor Dolittle soundtrack because of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody”!

Feeling her undeniable presence

When Aaliyah visited The Late Late Show to promote her film Romeo Must Die, host Craig Kilborn was absolutely smitten with the beauty. Many of Aaliyah’s celebrity friends, like Missy Elloitt and Timbaland, talked about how sweet, graceful, and charming the singer was, and it shows here!

Recognizing her serious star power

It’s hard to believe now, but Aaliyah was a bigger star than Beyoncé at one point. Here’s Beyoncé interviewing Aaliyah on the red-carpet. It’s cute to see Queen B’s nervous energy as she talks to the star. Considering Beyoncé’s amazing career and evolution since then, I have no doubt that Aaliyah’s star would have continued to skyrocket, also.

Remembering her larger-than-life talent

Aaliyah performed on Star Search at 10 years old, and like every great artist’s story goes, she lost. But she officially won us all over in the years to come.

(Images , via)

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