Tag: Contemporary R and B

2001, Music

Celebrity (2001) by *NSYNC

Like, what the hell happened? This album is a quantum leap in quality from No Strings Attached. It’s not even remotely close. Some of this is actually…good. And it really makes a case that, at least sometimes, it’s good that the talent take over from the handlers in the manufactured pop music space. Because, well, …

1986, Music

Back in the High Life (1986) by Steve Winwood

Traffic are one of those bands I want to love more than I actually do. They’re one of those bands who might have been All Time great had they just had a great songwriter. There are so many moments in their music that I get really excited about, but then the quality of the songs …

2001, Music

Miss E…So Addictive (2001) by Missy Elliot

I have some vague memory of beginning to listen to an earlier Missy Elliot album and then deciding to stop before my three listens because it didn’t seel enough, the reviews weren’t good enough or I felt I didn’t have enough to say (I do not remember why or even which album it was). But …

2001, Music

Survivor (2001) by Desinty’s Child

I can’t quite get over the congruity (and timelessness!) of writing a song about being an independent woman, while starting off the song referencing the Charlie’s Angels remake. Because, if the idea of Charlie’s Angels was ever feminist, well it’s a pretty dated and dumb version of feminism. (Smart, capable women whose lives are controlled …

1991, Music

Spellbound (1991) by Paula Abdul

I know very little about Paula Abdul. I remember a couple of her songs – and, honestly, remember the video for “Rush Rush” than I do the song – and I remember some vague reason for her being kicked off some talent TV show. That’s it. So I was expecting some kind of early ’90s …

1996, Music

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

So full disclosure: I barely remembered Maxwell’s existence when this anniversary came up. I knew the name but I couldn’t even tell you what kind of R&B he was associated with. I now understand that what he’s doing on this record was distinct from the dominant form of R&B at the time but, all these …

1991, Music

Cooleyhighharmony (1991) by Boyz II Men

I began to mature as a music fan in a world where Boyz II Men were ubiquitous. It felt like you couldn’t avoid them because, unlike so many other artists on the music video channels I watched, they were also played in malls, in doctor’s offices, everywhere.

1981, Music

Street Songs (1981) by Rick James

What I know about Rick James can basically be summed up in two things: “Super Freak” and Chappelle Show. And I really know “U Can’t Touch This” much better than Super Freak. Oh, I know a third thing: he was once in a band with Neil Young. (That’s actually true.) So I had no idea …

1986, Music

Control (1986) by Janet Jackson

I need to preface this by saying that I only know “New Jack Swing” as a name, I don’t really know anything about the genre and its history and have added it as a label to my reviews only when told by someone that “this music is New Jack Swing.” But if it’s true, it’s …

2000, Music

Whoa, Nelly! (2000) by Nelly Furtado

I’ve paid basically no attention to Nelly Furtado. I was aware of her hits – and remember the hits from this record – but was otherwise utterly uninterested. Some of that has to do with my music tastes – specially my tastes when I was 19 – and some of that appears to have to …

1995, Music

Daydream (1995) by Mariah Carey

I’m on my fourth ish Mariah Carey album. And, with listening to her actual albums, I’ve come to believe she may be the most technically gifted female vocalist in pop or R&B. (I might go even further than that.) With every album of hers I listen to, I become more and more convinced that she …

1980, Music

Dirty Mind (1980) by Prince

Like so many artists’ early work, I’ve come to this Prince album backwards. And I suspect that a lot of my issues with it come from all the later Prince I’ve heard. Because, on first listen, this record just sounded like Prince in utero or, um, proto Prince.

1995, Music

The Gold Experience (1995) by O(+>

I can’t claim to know Prince’s catalogue that well, especially since the ’80s. So you can’t take what I say as gospel. But, listening to this, I’m inclined to agree with the critical consensus that says it’s his best record of the ’90s (or one of them). There may well be better ones, of course, …

1990, Music

Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) by George Michael

More than his debut album, this record strikes me as the work of a singer-songwriter, one who also happens to be an incredibly dynamic performer, and a multi-instrumentalist. I’ve only listened to Faith a couple of times, but this feels more personal. And I must say I like it more. As an aside: the fact …

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?