It’s been a great year for R&B music. Here are some highlights.
1 . “Let It Burn”; Jazmine Sullivan; Reality Show
It’s hard not to replay the first 45-50 seconds of this song when you listen to it (especially if you’ve seen a performance of it). And it’s not just the opening that will have you hooked. The whole song is a demonstration of the greatness that can come from lyric simplicity combined with a talented and charismatic vocalist. It speaks volumes that the song has been as successful as its been without an actual music video.
2. “My Baby Just Cares for Me” – Usher; Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone
While not a full remake, when listening you’ll notice a special effort to modernize the lyrics e.g. “…My baby gon’ keep it tight; My baby don’t post for likes…,” Usher’s homage to the classic is definitely a fitting tribute.
3. “Lipstick” – Tamia; Love Life
Tamia can sing a love song like few others. And this one is her hottest one yet! No more words. Just listen.
4. “BURNITUP!” – Janet Jackson (featuring Missy Elliott); Unbreakable
There are a few songs I could’ve put on this list from Janet’s highly anticipated comeback album, but I chose the one that shows she still knows her way around an uptempo R&B/dance track. Plus, she teamed with another “comeback kid” in Missy (more on her later), who may be her second best collaboration partner behind Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who not coincidentally were the main producers on the album.
5. “Circles” – Tamar Braxton; Calling All Lovers
It’s a beautiful ballad from Tamar’s latest effort. It eventually was released as a single, but I think it should’ve come earlier in the order of singles released.
…You drug my heart through the ground
Left it all battered and bruised
I’m done fighting this battle with you
I can’t keep going round in circles
Circles, going in circles
Round and round and round with you…
6. “WTF (Where They From)” – Missy Elliott (featuring Pharrell)
The dance track was released in the form of the best video of the year (love those marionette scenes!). Missy followed up her surprise guest appearance at this year’s Superbowl and a brief feature on Janet’s album with her first release in several years to an eager audience that’s been starved for her unique artistry. Interesting tidbit: it’s purportedly a very nuanced Miley Cyrus diss record.
Photo Credit: @callmedollar