R&B Fridays (on Saturday): Episode 28

You thought I’d forgotten? Shame on you. I’m allowed a day off for Christmas.

The last R&B Friday of 2009 is packed to the rafters, with 21 (!!) tracks from a glut of good names. Beyoncé (with a Ne-Yo assist) anchors the bunch with a surprisingly high number of tracks in this one, and there are of course many other superb artists waiting for your attention after the click.

Beyoncé-Fever (Heat Version)
-This is a cover of the pretty old Fever track that everyone knows, which Beyoncé apparently covered a little while back. This is however a slightly different version of that cover, which is being used to promote her new fragrance.

R. Kelly-One Day On This Earth
-How this didn’t make Kels’ album, I’ll never know. This was cut from the final tracklisting, and it’s a very good song to be honest. The production is energetic with an alternative edge, and Kelly delivers some nice vocals on it. Really good all-round, and one of his strongest tracks this year.

Iyaz-Replay Remix ft. Sean Kingston, Nipsey Hu$$le, Rock City & Bizzy Bone
-If it isn’t already, this track is going to be huge. It’s got that rarely-perfected R&B-Reggae mix (which Sean Kingston fails at, and Rock City get just right) which is always a successful sound. Rock City add their own vocals to this too, and definitely provide the highlights of the track verse-wise. Nice track to throw on in a party mix.

Sammie-Him 2
-Sammie’s solo material has been pretty hit and miss in my books, but this one isn’t bad. The Kiss Me Thru The Phone singer delivers a strong hook, with some OK verses over a decent production. It’s by no means incredible, but certainly worth a few listens.

Jordin Sparks-Me & The Mirror and Ne-Yo-Better Today
-I like it when this happens. This production was originally found on a Ne-Yo demo track I picked up a year ago (to the day!) and Sparks appears to have taken it on. I don’t really like her music at all normally, but this is a good track. Admittedly, my opinion may be enhanced by my liking for the Ne-Yo demo, which you can grab above if you want to compare the two.

Raheem DeVaughn-Best Kept Secret
-2 out of 2 for Raheem, and I think I’m going to have to hunt out his back catalogue. This is another really good track, with a mixture of soul and R&B elements. Mellow production with some variety in the vocals makes for a very listenable experience.

Taio Cruz-Time Is Up
-A typical Taio Cruz, with a slightly electro-infused beat and memorable chorus. It’s a decent track, and although it’s not up there with his best stuff, it’s definitely decent and Taio’s fans will enjoy it.

Corinne Bailey Rae-I’d Do It All Again
-Keeping on with the UK artists, I thought I’d throw in something a little less R&B. Most should be familiar with the soulful tones of Corinne, and this is a chilled out slice of music which is very easy to listen to.

Usher-Little Freak ft. Nicki Minaj
-Changing styles considerably, this is a track that may, or may not, make Raymond vs. Raymond. I like the slow, driving beat on this track and the hook is good too. I think the first verse is a tiny bit too long for this sort of beat, but there we are. The second verse is good though, and Minaj’s guest spot is a good addition. I suspect this may be unfinished, as there’s room at the end for more, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Beyoncé-Waiting and Ne-Yo-Waiting
-Funny old episode this. This track is yet another completed Ne-Yo demo, but this time the beat has been changed in place of the lyrics. I really liked the Ne-Yo version, and admittedly I don’t like the production as much on this one, but that may be due to my familiarity with the original. Beyoncé fans should enjoy this though, and as earlier you can pick up the Ne-Yo demo above.

Beyoncé-Waiting (StarGate remix)
-That’s right, a 3rd version of the same song. This one fuses together the production of the original and the new Beyoncé version, and I do like this hybrid production. Lyrics/vocals are the same as the above.

Ray Lavender-Public
-One minute he’s Ray L, then Ray Lavender: make up your mind pal. Akon’s buddy drops off a decent all-round effort here though, with Akon himself providing some adlibs and backing vocals.

Lady GaGa-Kandy Life
-Bit of a treat for her fans here. This is actually an unreleased track from GaGa, recorded back in 2007. It’s got a slightly more indie-pop feel than her current music, and is worth adding to GaGa fans’ catalogue.

Bobby Valentino-Stilletos and a Tee
-This has got that classic Bobby V sound all over it. The production, the hook and even the verses are straight out of his playbook. Liking this track, and fans of mid-2000′s R&B will really enjoy this.

Tayma Loren-Tipsy ft. The-Dream
-Another distinctive track, with The-Dream/Tricky Stewart’s stamp being all-over this in terms of the production and hook. Never a bad thing though, and they always create hits. This could be a breakout hit for Tayma, and it’s a likeable and catchy track with some club potential.

Alexandra Burke-Fear of Flying
-This is the best thing she’s done to date in my book. The stuff I’ve seen of her on TV and heard on the radio is frankly a terrible use of her voice, and such a blatant attempt to force her music into the US R&B style is cringeworthy. This, however, is pretty good. I like the sample (used in Watergate’s classic track Heart of Asia I believe?) and it’s definitely a track I’ll throw in a rotation for a while.

Ne-Yo-Bedroom Walkin’
-Might as well throw you a new Ne-Yo demo, seeing as how I’ve given you two already eh? The lyrics suggest that this is a reference for a female singer, and it will be a good track for whoever takes it on. The beat is nice and has an eerily familiar sample, whilst the lyrics are pretty decent.

Beyoncé-Black Culture
-With a prominent Jackson 5 sample, the beat for this is naturally pretty old school. The track all-round isn’t totally my thing, but a lot of you will probably quite like this.

-Closing the final episode of this year with yet another great Lloyd track. He’s kept us provided with great music over the last 6 months, and this is no exception. The beat sounds like something that would fit nicely onto Lessons In Love, and the vocals are classic Lloyd: the airy quality is mixed with switching flows, as Lloyd speeds up and slows down intermittently. Worth grabbing for sure.

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