Tag: Contemporary R and B

2000, Music

The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book (2000) by Wyclef Jean

Why are Wyclef’s albums so fucking long? I don’t know the answer but it feels like it’s not just a case of the ’90s album bloat. Here is a man with a lot of pretty decent material (arguably more than on his debut) who doesn’t seem to know how to present it to the world. …

1980, Music

Give Me the Night (1980) by George Benson

Who is this album for, exactly? Is it for fans of scat singing? Is it for fans of smooth soul? Is it for fans of soul jazz? Is it not stupid to assume those groups of people overlap? Apparently it’s not as this album topped both the Soul and Jazz charts (ugh) and went to …

2000, Music

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1

I don’t know if I can tell you who Jill Scott is, but I can tell you what she is: she’s ambitious. Scott wants us to both accept her as a very talented singer and a poet. That’s something very few people can pull off.

1995, Music

Dreaming of You (1995) by Selena

I remember the singles from the music videos and the ether, I guess, but that was a bit of a surprise to me. Frankly, all I remembered about Selena was that she died young. Like anyone who died young, there has been a lot of hagiographic “what if” since. But I’ve paid little attention to …

1995, Music

Brown Sugar (1995) by D’Angelo

So I sat down to write this thinking I was going to write something and then I skimmed some reviews and saw this record categorized as “smooth soul” and it got me thinking: this record sure didn’t strike me as “slick” or “smooth” when I listened to it. Why did it strike others that way?

2000, Music

Ooops!…I Did It Again (2000) by Britney Spears

A lot of people think pop music is supposed to be ephemeral, disposable. I guess that’s one reason I don’t like so much of it. One of my criteria for deciding whether or not something is “great” is transcendence. And, if pop music is supposed to be disposable, it should be very hard for it …

2000, Music

No Strings Attached (2000) by *NSYNC

I absolutely hated *NSYNC when they first become popular, much like I absolutely hated the Backstreet Boys. And, though time has softened my feelings, it was still a struggle listening to “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” as immediately my got up a bit, as I remembered being inundated with these songs and …

2000, Music

Voodoo (2000) by D’Angelo

I heard so much about this album that I was bound to be disappointed. I had read really positive reviews but also multiple friends of mine told me it was a great album and at least one of these people was not an R&B connoisseur. (Meaning I should take his opinion even more seriously.)

1999, Music

Kaleidoscope (1999) by Kelis

I remember when I first heard “Caught Out There”. I didn’t swear at the time, but imagine it was the polite equivalent of “What the fuck?!?” And I’m sorry to say that was basically the last time I thought about Kelis (whose name I thought was pronounced “Kell Es”). And listening to this record, that …

1999, Music

Rainbow (1999) by Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey might be the best female pop singer of all time, if we go by technical ability. (I say ‘female’ not to perpetuate gender divisions but only to distinguish her from the man I consider the greatest popular music vocalist in history, who is not female.) It’s this record that has brought me to …

1994, Music

CrazySexyCool (1994) by TLC

I was 13 when this came out but I was already sort of aware of manufactured pop music. I already sort of got that the Monkees hadn’t evolved like the other bands I listened to, and I was sort of aware that some of the oldies music I listened wasn’t made the same way. I …

1989, Music

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

I’ll be honest. I have no idea what the state of R&B was in 1989, outside of Michael Jackson and Prince. (And, I guess, Whitney Houston’s early hits.) It’s a genre I never spent much time with once you get past the early ’70s. Well, until very recently, anyway. So I really don’t have the …

1979, Music

Off the Wall (1979) by Michael Jackson

I was listening to this record and I was struck once again by the fact that I just don’t like Michael Jackson. I was so struck by this that I posted a crude joke about him on my podcast’s social media which I will refrain from including in this review because it’s both not the …

1999, Music

The Writing’s on the Wall (1999) by Destiny’s Child

I was born on the same day as Beyonce. She’s the celebrity I always go to when that social media game about sharing celebrity birthdays comes up. But I only bring it up in regard to this album because, though I generally do not believe in any conspiracy theories, the album cover for this record …

1989, Music

Club Classics Vol. One (1989) by Soul II Soul

This is a review of a the original British album and British tradition dictates that the big single from the album is not released on that album, so that consumers have to buy both. So the song you know, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” is only present here in an a cappella …

1999, Music

…Baby One More Time (1999) by Britney Spears

I’m not sure I can convey the loathing I felt towards Britney Spears when she first debuted. I hated both her music, the singles of which were catchy enough they were hard to ignore, and what she represented: manufactured pop. I told myself she was a puppet. In 1998 and 1999 it felt like we …

1984, Music

Footloose Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1984)

I don’t review soundtracks normally for at least two reasons: normally they are not entirely composed of original music and they are not culturally significant enough – i.e. some kids probably bought it but the rest of us likely ignored it. But this one, well it is composed of original music, to the best of …

1998, Music

1965 (1998) by The Afghan Whigs

I did not particularly enjoy the critically acclaimed Gentlemen and I think so much of that has to do with when I heard it, in my late 30s. I suspect had I heard it when I was, say, 22, I might have really liked it a lot. It’s still a fine record but, as a …

1998, Music

Dearest Christian, I’m So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad (1998) by PM Dawn

I have long had a particular impression of 1990s R&B, an impression formed in high school when subjected to Boyz II Men and whatever else. Even with all the listening to ’90s R&B I’ve been doing lately, encountering all sorts of things I never thought I’d listen to, I still haven’t been able to muster …

1993, Music

Plantation Lullabies (1993) by Me’Shell NdegéOcello

It’s hard not be impressed by the ambition of this debut; NdegéOcello seems to want to do everything within the R&B spectrum and, at times, it feels like she might succeed. She’s like a female Terence Trend D’Arby with more of a jazz and hip hop influence and a better sense of rhythm but with …

1998, Music

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

So, full disclosure: Hip hop is not my thing and most contemporary R&B and neo soul is, as far as I know, not my thing. But this record was a big deal at the time and is arguably still quite a big deal today. As far as I can tell, Hill has written a pretty …

1993, Music

janet. (1993) by Janet Jackson

As I say all the damn time, coming at an artist backwards is a bad idea. And yet here I am doing it again. This is only the second Janet Jackson album I’ve ever heard, but the first one I heard was the sequel to this one. The problem for me is that the sequel …

1993, Music

Symphony or Damn (1993) by Terence Trent D’Arby

Somehow I managed to grown up when D’Arby was releasing music and completely avoid him. We listened to an Oldies station primarily, so we didn’t hear him there. And I swear I never saw any of his videos. (If I did, I didn’t see them enough to remember them.) So all I knew was the …

1988, Music

Lovesexy (1988) by Prince

To the extent that I know Prince, I know him as the dynamic performer who effortlessly combines aspects of R&B (funk, soul, etc.) with elements of rock (psychedelia, art rock, hard rock) and pop. Well, he’s dialed down the ambition at this point in his career and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

1988, Music

What Up, Dog? (1988) by Was (Not Was)

Imagine if you can a musically less sophisticated but infinitely slicker, but lyrically more earnest Steely Dan, recording with the very latest in ’80s musical technology, and featuring mostly guest vocalists, and you maybe get some idea of what Was (Not Was) sounds like. You also have to up the R&B quotient while dropping the …