Mary J. Blige opens the Fillmore Silver Spring tonight. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)


Chris Richards: I probably could have done this post on my lonesome and spent 700 words arguing with myself. The contenders: her big debut (“Real Love”), her most epic slowburner (“I’m Going Down”), her most killer cameo (“Hate it Or Love It”) and her upbeat/downbeat new school darkhorse (“Just Fine”). But in the end, I chose “I Can Love You.” The Rodney Jerkins-produced track alone is heavy, melancholy magic — something Blige figures out how to amplify tenfold.

Allison Stewart: My real favorite is any song in which Mary J. Blige refers to herself in the third person. Because Mary J. Blige does that a lot. That's just how Mary J. Blige rolls. Because I can't remember any specific songs that do this (and it's impossible to Google it, for some reason), I'm going to go with her cover of U2's "One," which was such an enjoyably melodramatic trainwreck I can't decide if I like the original more or less now.

David Malitz: I’m picking one that we may only hear in truncated form tonight: “I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need to Get By,”her duet with Method Man. It's not exactly a proper MJB song, but that’s sort of the point, as she often sounds best while sharing the spotlight. So here you’ve got in-his-prime Method Man, getting a little sensitive and Mary J. delivering one of those sexy, soulful hooks that basically every rap/R&B collaboration will try to duplicate for the rest of eternity. Plus it did justice to the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell original, which is no easy feat.