Long before we pledged Twilight allegiance to Team Jacob or Team Edward, there was a pop culture moment that required teens to take sides. It was 1998, and the contenders were singers: Monica, who had sung gospel since the age of 10 and whose short haircut left me awestruck; and a braided angel, a mortal with an immortal voice and the sweetest smile you ever saw. Brandy was everything I wanted to be.
Brandy’s debut single, I Wanna Be Down, was perfect for a 12-year-old who read Just Seventeen and wanted more than anything to be a grownup. She sounded like she could be your friend, and looked like it, too: her playful braids were a symbol of something wholesome – no sleek weave or mature pixie cut for her.