How “At Your Best (You Are Love)” Has Stood The Test Of Time

From The Isley Brothers to Aaliyah to Frank Ocean.

August 19, 2016

Frank Ocean’s new visual album Endless opens with a song he originally shared with the world months ago: his soul-stirring cover of The Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love).” Frank’s version has undergone a lush transformation since he first posted it on Tumblr, now featuring synths by James Blake and string orchestration by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. The song, originally released in the 1970s and made super popular in the 1990s by Aaliyah, has a long and beloved history in the cultural canon. Here’s a quick recap.

1976: The Isley Brothers released “At Your Best (You Are Love).”

The Ohio trio and legendary songwriters originally dedicated the song to their mother, Sally.

1994: Aaliyah covered the ballad on her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.
1994: An R. Kelly remix of Aaliyah’s cover, with a more chart-friendly ‘90s beat, became a huge hit.
2005: Filipina artist Nina covered the song on her album Nina Live!
2009: Swedish artist El Perro Del Mar covered the track in a split single with Lykke Li.

Cotton and jacket by @josephineb

A photo posted by El Perro Del Mar Official (@epdm) on

2010: Drake sampled the Aaliyah and R. Kelly version on “Unforgettable,” a Jeezy-featuring song on Thank Me Later.
2012: L.A. producer Knxwledge. also sampled Aaliyah on the track “letme[knx].”
2013: Then Gucci Mane sampled the same version on “Activist.”
2014: And so did Tamar Braxton, on “Let Me Know,” her single with Future.
2015: Frank Ocean released his stripped-back cover on Tumblr, on what would have been Aaliyah’s 36th birthday.
2016: Frank Ocean's Endless featured a fleshed-out cover of the song, with synths by James Blake.
Once again, Frank's release coincided with a meaningful date for Aaliyah fans: Endless appeared just before the anniversary of her death.
How “At Your Best (You Are Love)” Has Stood The Test Of Time