After being pitted against each other for more than two decades following their classic 1998 duet “The Boy Is Mine,” the reverence shared between two of modern R&B’s most renowned stars was a joy to see. Not only were fans able to watch the singers celebrate each other’s successes — amidst a few moments of somewhat unavoidable tension — but they also received a message from Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who called in with a live video message for the two stars, thanking them for their contributions to the culture and using the platform to encourage voters to hit the polls this upcoming November.
After Harris spoke, the battle was underway, delivering a brilliant 20-round exhibition of Black Girl Magic. See Billboard’s official scorecard for the record-setting event below.
Round 1: Brandy’s “What About Us?” vs. Monica’s “Everything to Me”
Brandy kicks off the R&B jam fest with her Darkchild-produced 2002 Full Moon banger “What About Us?” In return, Monica serves up an equally unshakable record in her 2010 ballad “Everything to Me.” Monica’s resounding vocals shake the room but aren’t enough to clinch the opening round.
Round 2: Brandy’s “He Is” vs. Monica’s “A Dozen Roses”
Dubbed a “fan favorite,” Brandy slows down the tempo after her fiery entrance with her spellbinding deep cut from Full Moon. She ruminates about how her 2002 effort didn’t pack as many singles as she might’ve liked, but unearths a sparkling cut here. Monica effusively praises Brandy for her “unmatched” tone, before getting back in the game her dulcet track “A Dozen Roses.” With Missy in tow, Monica proves why she and the hip-hop luminary were such a superb tandem in the 2000s.
Round 3: Brandy’s “Full Moon” vs. Monica’s “So Gone”
Brandy refuses to hit eject on her Full Moon album and opts to play its most savory single with its title-track single. Swaying back and forth, both Brandy and Monica dance in unison to the instant classic. ‘Full Moon’ is so serious,” gushes Monica after the song’s conclusion. Mo issues an impressive comeback with her 2000s scorcher “So Gone,” which she reveals found her at a crossroads in her life romantically. “I’m done kicking in doors,” she playfully quips.
Round 4: Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down” vs. Monica’s “Don’t Take It Personal”
Debut single showdown. Interestingly, Brandy recalls first meeting Tupac in the ’90s and cleverly loops in a soundbite from the rapper’s 1996 song “Me & My Girlfriend,” which name-dropped her 1994 single, to kick off this round — and also dips into the star-studded “Down” remix before handing over the controls. Monica storms right back with her swaggering 1995 opener “Don’t Take It Personal,” but we have to applaud Brandy for the sweet presentation on this one.
Round 5: Brandy’s “Baby” Vs. Monica’s “Like This and Like That”
Brandy is officially in her element. Sprinkling a bevy of ad-libs during the performance of her 1994 single “Baby,” Brandy keeps us engaged with her entrancing falsettos. Meanwhile Monica powers her way through a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Like This and That,” which she says she recorded at 12.
Round 6: Brandy’s “Angel in Disguise” vs. Monica’s “U Should’ve Known Better”
Dating back to her 1998 sophomore attempt Never Say Never, Brandy reflects on sampling Joe for the criminally underrated track “Angel in Disguise,” before delving into her decision to stay single. Monica matches Brandy’s heartbreak with the melancholy “U Should’ve Known Better,” and even sings a cappella to make the tearful anthem that much stronger for R&B purists.
Round 7: Brandy, Chaka Khan, Tamia & Gladys Knight’s “Missing You” Vs. Monica’s “For You I Will”
Brandy’s showmanship continues to shine during this matchup early on. Here, she pays homage to fallen figures in the Black community such as Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston before playing the loaded Set It Off soundtrack cut “Missing You,” recorded alongside Chaka Khan, Tamia and Gladys Knight. Monica also shows love to the Bryant family by speaking on how “For You I Will” remains an impactful song for Kobe’s wife Vanessa. “That song I was only 17, and that was for Space Jam,” says Monica. “Movies and soundtracks just hit different back then.”
Round 8: Brandy’s “Almost Doesn’t Count” vs. Monica’s “Why I Love You So Much”
Journeying back to Never Say Never, Brandy recounts the pressure of love before earning applause from Monica for “Almost Doesn’t Count.” Monica skillfully keeps the train of adoration running with “Why I Love You So Much,” before receiving a sea of “Ayes” for her sonorous vocals at the record’s tail-end.
Round 9: Brandy’s “Brokenhearted” vs. Monica’s “Love All Over Me”
After realizing they reached an unfathomable 1.2 million views on their matchup, Brandy chooses to take a request from her opponent. The result proves to be golden, as she plays the inescapable 1994 jam “Brokenhearted” featuring Wanya Morris. The ’90s break-up anthem quickly has the comment section in shambles. “Clouds don’t stay, and the sun always shines again,” says the upbeat Monica, before inserting her delirious 2010 cut “Love All Over Me.” Sorry Mo, heartbreak wins this round.
Round 10: Monica feat. Rick Ross & Lil Kim’s “Anything (To Find You)” vs. Brandy feat. Ma$e’s “Top of the World”
After a short intermission and an order reversal, Monica emerges with the bombastic club starter “Anything (To Find You), which sampled Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya.” Brandy brings the heavy artillery, touting the ’90s bop “Top of the World.” Ma$e’s silky opener is still a showstopper no matter the decade. What a way to start the second half.
Round 11: Monica feat. Ludacris’ “Still Standing” Brandy’s “Borderline”
Acknowledging her abrasive ways, Monica owns her past missteps on the 2008 record “Still Standing” with Ludacris. “To put him on this song, he really got it,” Monica says of her cousin, who penned a poignant verse. On her attempt, Brandy fast forwards to her new album B7, and speaks on her personal connection with one of the set’s highlights, “Borderline.” Unfortunately, might be too early to dish out the new records.
Round 12: Monica’s “Commitment” vs. Brandy feat. Daniel Caesar’s “Love Again”
Monica touches on the importance to go independent, and how that liberating experience carved out her 2019 single “Commitment,” which soared to No. 1 on the Billboard’s Adult Songs Airplay chart. To counteract Monica’s effort, Brandy revs up her Grammy-nominated duet “Love Again” with R&B crooner Daniel Caesar, and dashes across the finish line this round.
Round 13: Usher feat. Monica’s “Slow Jam” vs. Brandy feat. Chris Brown “Put It Down”
Monica moonwalks back into the ’90s with a unique cheat code by unwrapping her “Slow Jam” collaboration with Usher. “Our voices really turn into one,” reflects Monica. “He’s the consummate professional.” Brandy’s slinky CB collab sounds good but has a tough time burying Usher and Mo this round.
Round 14: Monica’s “The First Night”vs. Brandy’s “Who Is She 2 U”
Staying in her ’90s pocket, Monica unleashes her Jermaine Dupri-produced record “The First Night” as she shuns the idea of being lusty from the onset. Brandy leaps back with momentum by reeling in Verzuz co-founder Timbaland for the syrupy Afrodisiac single “Who Is She 2 U.”
Round 15: Monica’s “Knock Knock” vs. Brandy’s “Best Friend ”
Monica and Missy strike again with another magical heater in After the Storm’s “Knock Knock,” solidifying their presence as one of R&B’s top tandem. Brandy’s debut album comes back into the fold with “Best Friend,” before quickly blending in her theme song for her ’90s sitcom Moesha. Sadly, we only get a five-second teaser of the classic theme, since Brandy didn’t want to get sued for playing the song in full.
Round 16: Monica “Before You Walk Out Of My Life” vs. Brandy’s “Sitting Up In My Room”
It’s all about the white shoes. Monica breaks down the videos shot in Los Angeles when pressing play on “Before You Walk Out of My Life” from Ms. Thang — a song she deems as “one of her favorites to sing to this day.” Brandy’s story of “Sitting Up in My Room” speaks to linking up with one of her favorites in Babyface (also a Verzuz alum) for the first time, while again boasting about an on-record shout-out, this time from Biggie via Life After Death‘s “Another.” Great flex by Brandy.
Round 17: Monica feat. Dem Franchize Boyz’s “Everytime Tha Beat Drop” vs. Brandy feat. Kanye West’s “Talk About Love”
Monica takes a trip to the A-Town in Round 17 with another Jermaine Dupri-produced hit. The street symphony showcases Mo’s versatility after coming with a strong showing of ballads throughout the battle. Before diving into her record, Brandy sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” to speak to the importance of voting and staying positive during this dark time. Her impromptu solo plus her Kanye-featuring record gives her the point here.
Round 18: Monica’s “Sideline Ho” vs. Brandy’s “Put That on Everything”
Channeling her inner City Girl, Monica peels back into her 2007 single “Sideline Ho” and axes the notion of playing the second option in relationships. Monica edges Brandy’s Never Say Never track by peppering the ad-libs with the word “ho” and providing funny banter throughout.
Round 19: Brandy’s “When You Touch Me” vs. Keyshia Cole’s “Trust” featuring Monica
“Them harmonies in there were crazy,” says Brandy while listening to Keyshia and Monica’s duet. The Moesha singer revisits Full Moon to cradle fans with her baby-making record “When You Touch Me,” which garner a slew of “Yasssss” responses. The fans have spoken.
Round 20: Monica feat. Lil Wayne’s “Just Right For Me” vs. Brandy’s “Have You Ever”
Don’t think Monica was aware of the song count here, saving her 1999 Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Angel of Mine” for just after the 20-song buzzer sounded. Instead, Brandy gets the bucket here with a chart-topping ’99 ballad of her own.
Best “Boy Is Mine” Performance: Brandy
The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Interestingly enough, Monica doesn’t seem eager to perform alongside her counterpart, but the song’s magnitude and moment is enough to overlook this moment. They even hugged it out at the end and teased an upcoming tour too!
Best Banter: Tie
Both women were equipped with jokes and stingers throughout the night. It was a blessing to see them trade stories about their come-ups in the ‘90s and praise each other’s catalog.
Biggest K.O.: Brandy
Unaware of the time, Brandy slipped in a nice K.O. at the final buzzer with “Have You Ever,” and Monica opting to go with “Just Right For Me” versus her timeless record “Angel of Mine.”
People’s Champ: Tie
From Brandy bringing in Kamala Harris to Monica bringing out the harmonies on “Sideline Ho,” this hall-of-fame twosome deserved the incredible 1.2 million IG views they earned tonight.
FINAL SCORE: Brandy, 12-7-5